Marilena Melas joined the PIBBS Program in 2015 and is currently part of the Cancer Biology and Genomics PhD Program. Marilena started her career at USC in March 2013 working with Stephen Gruber, MD, PhD, MPH, as a research lab assistant. Her experience in the lab opened her eyes to the numerous opportunities a degree in translational cancer genomics could offer. Marilena’s five-year goal is to uncover actionable therapeutic targets that offer patients more precise treatment options. Marilena is a native of Greece and has always dreamed of obtaining a PhD in the United States. Growing up with a mother who is also a physician, she has always been intrigued by diseases.
A day in her life as a doctoral student includes conducting experiments and data analysis, lab meetings, individual meetings with mentors and collaborators, and giving lab tours to patients who want to get a better understanding of research. Marilena is grateful for the challenging yet positive and supportive environment PIBBS created for her. At USC, she has been able to improve her social skills through various professional development workshops offered by PIBBS. During her three years as a USC student, Marilena has attended multiple conferences and coauthored several publications related to her research. Most recently, Marilena won best oral presentation at the Graduate Student Symposium hosted by Cedars-Sinai. Marilena also takes time to give back to the USC community by mentoring incoming first-year PIBBS students.
In her free time outside of the lab, she is actively involved in a variety of activities. When she is not taking spinning or Pilates classes, Marilena enjoys dancing and is a member of the USC Ballroom and Latin Dance Team at the University Park Campus. Marilena values all of these activities as they help her create a work-life balance to manage stress associated with being a doctoral student.