Juliano Tiburcio de Freitas

Degree: Ph.D. in Biology

College/School: School of Environment, Arts & Society, College of Arts, Sciences & Education

Juliano Tiburcio de Freitas is determined to stop melanoma — the deadliest type of skin cancer because of its ability to spread to distant organs.

Juliano is from Viçosa, a small town in Brazil. While pursuing his bachelor’s degree, he and his high school sweetheart — now wife — spent time studying in Europe. In Paris, he volunteered in a lab studying pigment cells and melanoma. The lab’s director encouraged him to pursue a Ph.D. and recommended he contact Lidia Kos from FIU’s Department of Biological Sciences. 

Under Kos’ guidance and after several years of trial and error, Juliano had a breakthrough. By targeting specific molecules associated with melanoma metastasis, he has found a way to considerably slow down tumor growth. Juliano earned a Young Investigator Award at an international conference in Prague for this research.

His fight for a cure stems from his family experience – his two grandmothers and mother battled different forms of cancer. While in high school, he lost one grandmother. In college, he lost the other. While he was in graduate school at FIU, his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was almost enough to break his spirit, but his mother’s fight inspired him to press on. She won her battle and today is cancer-free. He says his mom is a survivor in part because someone has not given up on studying treatments for breast cancer. He is not giving up on treatments for melanoma. Juliano has applied for post-doctoral positions to continue his research.

By Ayleen Barbel Fattal
Account Manager
College of Arts, Sciences & Education