Fred Hutch announces eight recipients of 2023 Dr. Eddie Méndez Scholar Award

In its fifth year, the national award recognizes exceptional postdoctoral researchers from groups who are historically underrepresented in science
Photo collage of all award recipients.

SEATTLE – OCTOBER 17, 2023 – Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center has announced the recipients of the 2023 Dr. Eddie Méndez Scholar Award, which recognizes early-career underrepresented minority scientists and scientists with disabilities.

The eight postdoctoral awardees represent a range of research institutions across the U.S. and are experts in a variety of subjects including tumor interactions with the immune system, cell signaling in obesity and links between parasites and cancer.

“We congratulate this year’s Méndez scholars, whose extraordinary scientific accomplishments are revealing important insights on health," said Dr. Christopher Li, co-director of the award program and vice president of faculty affairs and diversity at Fred Hutch.

"We are also proud of the awardees for representing significant advances in diversifying the scientific workforce and making it more equitable and inclusive," Li said. Li is also associate director of diversity, equity and inclusion for the Fred Hutch/University of Washington/Seattle Children's Cancer Consortium and holds the Helen G. Edson Endowed Chair for Breast Cancer Research at Fred Hutch.  

Named for Dr. Eddie Méndez, a head and neck cancer expert and cherished colleague at Fred Hutch who died of cancer in 2018, the award was created in his honor to recognize his commitment to cancer research and his role as a mentor.

A native of Puerto Rico, Méndez attended University of Washington as a surgical resident and spearheaded minimally invasive robotic surgery for head and neck cancers. He was the first in Washington state to perform such surgery.

Now in its fifth year, the award, which comes with an honorarium, has been given to 46 postdoctoral researchers. 

Méndez, a native of Puerto Rico, came to University of Washington as a surgical resident, eventually spearheading minimally invasive robotic surgery for these tumors. He was the first in Washington state to perform such surgery. 

The 2023 award recipients will be recognized, present their research findings and discuss career development with Fred Hutch faculty and leaders at the Méndez Symposium on Oct. 23. 

“The 2023 Méndez scholars have exhibited exceptional scientific creativity and innovative research discoveries,” said Dr. Christina Termini, co-director of the Méndez award program and an assistant professor in Fred Hutch’s Translational Sciences and Therapeutics Division. 

“I was most impressed by the awardees’ ability to articulate their research vision – they are rising stars,” Termini said, who received the Méndez award in 2020. 

People interested in applying for next year’s Méndez award can reach out to for more information. Solicitation for the next round of applications is expected in mid-November and applications accepted through April 2024. 

2023 Dr. Eddie Méndez Award Recipients:

Gina Gallego Lopez, PhD 
Morgridge Institute for Research, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Juliana Hofstatter Azambuja, PhD 
University of Pittsburgh

Johanna Melo-Cardenas, PhD 
St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital 

Carlos Mendez-Dorantes, PhD 
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute 

Kari Price, PhD 
Yale University  

Maritza Puray-Chavez, PhD 
Washington University in St. Louis

Tigist Tamir, PhD 
Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT 

Christine Vazquez, PhD 
University of Pennsylvania

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Media Contact: 
Molly McElroy  

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center unites individualized care and advanced research to provide the latest cancer treatment options while accelerating discoveries that prevent, treat and cure cancer and infectious diseases worldwide.

Based in Seattle, Fred Hutch is an independent, nonprofit organization and the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in Washington. We have earned a global reputation for our track record of discoveries in cancer, infectious disease and basic research, including important advances in bone marrow transplantation, immunotherapy, HIV/AIDS prevention and COVID-19 vaccines. Fred Hutch operates eight clinical care sites that provide medical oncology, infusion, radiation, proton therapy and related services. Fred Hutch also serves as UW Medicine’s cancer program.