Jefferson Postdoctoral Association

2023-2024 Officers

Mouadh Barbirou, MSc, PhD


Mouadh has been preparing for a career in biomedical science that includes the translation of science discoveries into clinical practice. Dr. Barbirou's general research interest is in the molecular etiology of cancer with a particular focus on mechanisms of cancer susceptibility. The profound problems of cancer research center on an inter-individual variance of the characterization of cancer, its symptoms, molecular mechanisms of development, response to treatments, and outcomes. Mouadh's ultimate objective is to seek and understand the molecular basis of that variation, establish scientific clarity of the causes and participate in the use of novel knowledge to improve detection, treatment, and outcomes. In addition, Dr. Barbirou's goal is to pursue the translation of scientific results and knowledge into clinical practice and patient health care, and thereby make applicable the potential of precision medicine.

What is your favorite place to visit in Philly?
I love visiting the Liberty Bell because it always reminds me of how free we are in this country, and how people have suffered to give us freedom. It also makes me feel how this country has improved over time, and what we should give to the next generation to be better than us. I also like shopping and clothes, and I often go to the King of Prussia and Philadelphia Mills Malls.

Joice Thomas Gavali, PhD

Senior Vice President

Joice Thomas Gavali, PhD, earned her doctorate in Pharmacology at the Centro de Investigacion y de Estudios Avanzados (CINVESTAV-IPN) in Mexico. Her graduate studies focused on regulation by reactive oxygen species of store-operated calcium release in adult rat cardiomyocytes preconditioned with diazoxide. She moved to the United States in October 2020. Before joining Thomas Jefferson University, she worked as a postdoctoral scientist at Smidt Heart Institute, Cedar Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

She is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in Dr. Jianxin Sun's lab. Her research focuses on understanding the regulation of EC coupling in cardiac hypertrophy, cardiac fibrosis, and pulmonary artery hypertension.

Who do you most admire?
The person I admire most is my father because he's a great dad. He taught me everything I needed to know and helped me become who I am today.

Caitlyn Cardetti, PhD


Caitlyn received her BS in Human Biology and Psychology from Minnesota State University, Mankato. She worked in pharmaceutical manufacturing and clinical research before deciding to go to graduate school. She earned her PhD in Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology from Stony Brook University in New York. Her PhD work focused on better understanding mitochondrial RNA processing and mitoribosomal assembly. Currently, she is a postdoctoral researcher in the Sheu lab where she is studying how calcium regulation in the heart influences mitochondrial gene expression. She also holds a part-time faculty position at Bucks County Community College.

What is your favorite thing to do in Philly?
Run along the Schuylkill River on a nice, sunny day.

Fnu Deepa, PhD

Vice President, Communications

Deepa is currently serving as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Hematology at Thomas Jefferson University. She built a strong academic foundation with both a Master's degree and PhD in Biochemistry from Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India. Her key focus area is platelet signaling: platelets hold a crucial role in hemostasis. Her research aims to shed light on how platelets lead to critical ailments such as myocardial infarction and stroke. In the future, she aspires to make significant contributions in the field.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I enjoy enriching my knowledge through reading books and staying active by playing basketball. I believe these hobbies help to maintain a balanced lifestyle and stimulate my mind creatively.

Amandeep Girdhar, PhD

Vice President, Career Development

Amandeep is a native of Jalalabad (West), a small town in Punjab (Land of Five Rivers) located in the northern part of India. He received his B. Tech in Biotechnology from Lovely Professional University in Punjab, India, his M. Tech in Biotechnology from RGPV in Madhya Pradesh, India, and his PhD in Biotechnology from IIT in Hyderabad, India. Aman started his postdoctoral position with Dr. Lin Guo at Thomas Jefferson University in 2020. His research interest is to design and test novel short RNA inhibitors for reversing the liquid-liquid phase separation and aggregation of proteins involved in ALS and FTLD diseases.

What is your favorite hobby, and why?
I enjoy traveling and discovering new places such as restaurants, cafes, and historic sites. This appeals to me because it allows me to feel energized, fulfilled, and enthusiastic while engaging in social activities.

Arun Kumar Jannu, PhD

Vice President, Nominations and Elections

Arun Kumar Jannu is a native of Warangal, a small city in Telangana, located in the southern part of India. He did his masters at the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER) - Hyderabad, and then pursued his PhD in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology from NIPER - Guwahati in 2021. His studies focused on finding a novel carrier system for the targeted delivery of anticancer drugs. Later in 2021, Arun joined Thomas Jefferson University as a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Translational Medicine under the supervision of Dr. Raymond Penn. Arun's research focuses on identifying the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which G protein-couple receptors regulate significant functions in human airway smooth muscle cells.

If time travel was a possibility, what era would you visit and why?
I'm very interested in the nature of cultural and human development, and how we came to be. I would love to travel to a time well before modern civilization was established, and watch the evolution of people as they spread from one location to another, and across the globe.

Melissa Molho Medina, PhD


Melissa Molho is originally from Mexico, where she got her bachelor's degree in Genomic Sciences from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. In 2014, she moved to the United States to do her PhD in the Plant Pathology Department at the University of Kentucky (UK). During her PhD, she studied virus-host interactions in plants, specifically the role of the actin network in viral infection. She was also part of the UK graduate Student Congress leadership team and advocate for international students.

In 2021, she joined Dr. Ramage's lab as a postdoctoral fellow in the Microbiology Department at Thomas Jefferson University. Currently, she is studying virus-host interactions of emerging infectious diseases focusing on flaviviruses such as Dengue, Zika, West Nile, and Powassan viruses.

What do you enjoy in your work, as well as life in Philly?
I enjoy doing outreach activities to talk about plant health, viruses, and inclusion in science. My favorite thing to do in Philly is walking around the parks or streets in Center City and South Philly, because there is always something new to find.

Shamaila Zafar, PhD

Vice President, Social Affairs

Shamaila Zafar is a Neuroscientist and registered Pharmacist from Pakistan. She earned her PhD in Physiology from Government College University of Faisalabad (GCUF) in Faisalabad, Pakistan, in 2021. Her past research focused on exploring alternative therapeutic moieties to instigate and accelerate axonal regeneration and full functional recovery following nerve injuries. As a Postdoctoral fellow, she is working with Dr. Jay Schneider on understanding the influence of socioeconomic and environmental factors on the developing brain regarding neurocognitive functioning, behavioral changes and the risk of dementia associated with neurodegeneration in later life. Shamaila has had opportunities to present both as an inviting-speaker and as a presenter in multiple international and national science meetings supported by travel grants.

If you had a full day without responsibilities, how would you choose to spend the day?
I am a proud Mom of three cool and charming kids who are my anti-depressants. I would prefer to spend my whole time with them, either making their favorite foods, painting, playing games, visiting outdoor spots (beaches, parks, resorts, museums), or watching movies.

Elham Javed, PhD

President Emeritus

Elham Javed has a very diverse background; she is an Indian national born and raised in the Dubai, UAE, and came to the United States for her master's in Molecular Medicine at Drexel University. She was doing an off-campus CPT at Thomas Jefferson University in the neuroscience department which is why following her master's graduation she pursed her PhD with Thomas Jefferson University at the Center for Translational Medicine. She is now currently working as postdoctoral fellow under Dr. Raymond Penn. Her research is focused on understanding the mechanism behind differential compartmentalized signaling induced by β2AR and PGE2 receptors in human ASM.

If time travel was a possibility, what era would you visit and why?
If I could, I would go back to the 90s - the simpler times - where the only issue was getting your homework done and listening to the Backstreet Boys. I finally understand why all the grown-ups said "don't wish to grow-up so soon."