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Kandy T. Velazquez, M.S., Ph.D.

Principal Investigator

Dr. Kandy T. Velázquez is from Isabela, Puerto Rico.  She did her bachelor’s degree in Biology at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez. Then, she pursued her master degree in Medical Physiology at the Medical Sciences Campus-UPR under the tutelage of Dr. Juan Carlos Jorge.  For her thesis, she studied the role of 3-alpha androstanediol on hedonic, reinforcing, and anxiety-like behaviors in rats.    After receiving her PhD in Exercise Science-Applied Physiology from the University of South Carolina investigating the role of nutraceuticals on cancer cachexia under the mentorship of Dr. James A. Carson, she joined the laboratory of Dr. Angela Murphy to pursue postdoctoral training on obesity promoting cancer.  Her graduate work was funded by RISE-program (UPR-MSC), PREP-Program (USC), SLOAN Scholarship (USC), SEAGEP (USC), Diversity supplement (NIH-NCI), ASPIRE (USC), Mentor/Mentee grant (SSMN), K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award (NIH-NCCIH), Seed Grant from SLOAN Foundation, R43 from NCCIH-NIH, Target Faculty in the P20 from NIGMS-NIH, and RDA from the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Dr. Velázquez’s lab focuses on investigating the neuro-immune mechanism by which colorectal cancer, colitis, and chemotherapy treatments promote visceral nociception (pain) and neuropathic pain, respectively.  In addition, her lab studies the effects of an herbal formula as a new therapy to treat pain and cachexia.  Her life outside academia is concentrated in spending quality time with friends/family and going on walks with her kids.

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Cancer Pain

Identifying the mechanism by which cancer-induced visceral pain

2013 - 2019

University of South Carolina-School of Medicine

Postdoctoral Training

Mentor: E. Angela Murphy, Ph.D.

High-Fat-Diet-Induced Cancer

Determine the mechanism by which diets rich in fats promote cancer proliferation

Cancer Cachexia

Identify therapies to hinder muscle wasting

Neuropathic Pain

Identify new treatments to alleviate neuropathic pain

2007 - 2012

University of South Carolina 

Ph.D. Exercise Science, Applied Physiology

Mentor: James A. Carson, Ph.D.

2002 - 2006

University of Puerto Rico - Medical Sciences Campus 

M.S. Medical Physiology

Mentor: Juan Carlos Jorge, Ph.D.

1998 - 2002

University of Puerto Rico - Mayagüez Campus

B.S. Biology

Complementary Medicine

Determine the mechanism by which complementary medicine ameliorate pain, hinder muscle wasting, and reduce cancer progression

2006 - 2007

University of South Carolina 

PREP Program

Mentor: Sarah Sweitzer, Ph.D.

Behavioral Neuroscience

Study the hedonic, reinforcing, and anxiety effects properties of testosterone metabolite androstanediol

Meet The Team


Patrice Cunningham

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Patrice Cunningham completed her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Political Science at the University at Buffalo in New York. Through Dr. Joseph Gardella's mentorship, she conducted research exploring hydrogel's property and characterizing hydrogel as a drug delivery system that increases active protein release. While at the University, she was actively involved in the Student Organizations on campus and presided as President of the Caribbean Student Association. Currently, Patrice is conducting research at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine under the mentorship of Dr. Kandy Velazquez. During her leisure time, she enjoys going to the gym.


Ella James

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Emma is a junior student at Hammond School. She has been working in Dr. Velázquez’s lab since Summer 2022.  Under the mentorship of Dr. Velázquez and graduate student Patrice, Ella has been able to explore her interests in research and is excited to continue learning more about the field.


Teavian Harvin

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Teavian joined The Velazquez Lab in October 2022. She is a postbaccalaureate student from the PREP Program at the University of South Carolina. She is currently applying to graduate programs to pursuit a doctorate in biomedical sciences.   


Amber Johnson

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Amber is a senior Public Health major and Business Administration minor at the University of South Carolina. She has been working in Dr. Velázquez Lab since December 2022. 

Former Team


Aman Sumal

M4 Student


Emma Patton

Emma Patton graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2021. She worked in Dr. Velázquez’s lab from 2019-2022.  She was awarded the Magellan Scholars Grant to study the effects of Ojeok-san on pain-like-behaviors in a mouse model of colitis. She is currently working in a Goverment lab 


Gustavo Martinez-Muniz 

Obtained a Diversity Supplement Award Funded by the National Cancer Institute. Gustavo graduated with from the University of South Carolina in 2022.  


Yvone Shametaj

M1 student

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Yvone is an undergraduate student at the University of South Carolina in the BARSC-MD accelerated undergraduate-to-MD program. She received a Magellan Scholars grant to conduct research on the effects of TNF-alpha, or a lack thereof, in mice with colorectal cancer. Some of her hobbies include reading, hiking, cooking, and watching Netflix.


Matthew Noneman


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 Matt graduated from the University of South Carolina Honors College in 2021, and is currently working as a Research Associate I at Metagenomi.  He received support from the USC SURF program to conduct research in the Velázquez Lab, focusing on characterization of spontaneous pain in colorectal cancer. In his free time, Matt enjoys musical performance and playing sports.


Nour Shams


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Nour graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2022. He is currently a recipient of a Postbac Intramural Training Award (IRTA) at the University of National Institute of Health. He received a Magellan Scholars grant to conduct research on the effects of TNF-alpha, or a lack thereof, in mice with colorectal cancer. In his free time, Nour enjoys lifting, cycling, and hiking. 

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