Trainee Affairs and Resources

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The Office of Graduate Studies and Trainee Affairs (OGSTA) supports the development of an academic and translational research environment for all research trainees at Houston Methodist. We are dedicated to personal and professional development by offering services that enhance the trainee learning experience. Our vision is to utilize our resources to empower trainees during their time at Houston Methodist for the benefit of their future careers.


Please review these resources that we hope will aid in your development as Houston Methodist scientists and clinicians. If you have any questions or need help with something not listed below, Click Here to send an email to the OGSTA team and we'll be happy to assist you.


The Methodist Association for Postdoctoral and Trainee Affairs is a self-governed association for translational science research professionals. They support postdoctoral fellows, graduate trainees, medical residents, and other translational science research professionals with education, networking, intramural activities, and career development and advancement opportunities. Some of the courses and seminars include (but are not limited to):


  • Coffee Chat
  • Career & Professional Development Series
  • Postdoctoral Affairs Series
  • International Affairs Series
  • Cultural Exchange Series
  • Outreach Events in the Greater Houston community
  • Summer Science Symposium




The Methodist Association for Postdoctoral and Trainee Affairs is a trainee-run board, supporting all research trainees with programs of educational, cultural, and interpersonal value. 

You can meet the current MAPTA Board below.

2023-2024 MAPTA Board Members

President - Nikita Campa Carranza

Nikita Campa Carranza


MD/PhD – Tecnologico de Monterrey School of Medicine and Health Sciences (in progress)

MS – Biomedical Sciences, Tecnologico de Monterrey School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Mexico


Nikita is an MD-PhD student at Tec de Monterrey School of Medicine in collaboration with Houston Methodist. She is currently working in the Laboratory of Alessandro Grattoni, PhD. Her primary research focuses on developing a bio-artificial pancreas that can be implanted under the skin, for the treatment of type I diabetes. Transplanted cells within the platform are protected from the host's immune system thanks to the local release of immunosuppressant drugs.

She has been an active member of MAPTA for the past two years. Now serving as President of the board, she aims to focus on collaboration between Houston Methodist and other TMC institutions. Moreover, she wants to help PhD students gain knowledge of their career options beyond traditional tracks and emphasize inclusion of all people in the STEM fields. 

While not in the lab, Nikita enjoys climbing, running, swimming and a variety of outdoor activities. In that sense, she’s excited to continue HMAI green initiatives in partnership with the Office of Sustainability.

Co-VP Career and Professional Development - Alexa de la Fuente Hagopian, MD

Alexa De la Fuente Hagopian, MD


MD - Universidad de las Américas, Puebla, México


Alexa currently works at the Institute for Reconstructive Surgery, under the direct supervision of Anthony Echo, MD, board-certified plastic surgeon. Her research is mainly focused on clinical outcomes of peripheral nerve reconstruction, facial reanimation, breast reconstruction, and microsurgery. She joined the HMRI two years ago to pursue her goal of becoming an academic plastic surgeon in the US. She's a very passionate, self-driven person who enjoys working out, cooking, dancing, and watching rom-coms and TV series with her husband. 

She’s been an active member of MAPTA since she arrived at Houston Methodist. As the new Co-VP of Career & Professional Development, she is committed to creating a supportive and inclusive environment for all trainees to share their experiences and learn from each other. She is a strong believer in the power of networking and mentorship and is passionate about connecting trainees with mentors who can help them navigate their careers and achieve their goals.

Co-VP Career and Professional Development - Elisa Serafini

Elisa Serafini


PhD – Mathematics and Applications, University of La Rochelle, France (in progress)
MS – Biomedical Engineering, Politecnico di Torino, Italy
BS – Medical Engineering, Universita di Roma Tor Vergata, Italy


Elisa is a PhD candidate in the Department of Precision Surgery, in the Laboratory of Stefano Casarin, PhD, where she started in 2022 as a master’s student.
After obtaining her master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from Politecnico di Torino with a computational modeling thesis, she decided to proceed her research on the development of integrated in silico-in vivo models to daily optimize the experimental pipeline. She mainly works with the Department of Transplant and Immunology at the HMRI and with the GU Medical Oncology Department at MD Anderson Cancer Center, however the beauty of her computer models is that they are versatile, and they can be easily customized to different fields. 

While not in the lab, she loves running or playing any kind of team sports, listening to music, or burying her nose in a book. As a PhD student and the Co-VP of Career & Professional Development, she aims to promote good job strategies, offer tools for effective networking both inside and outside of the institution, and to make career transitioning smoother for trainees and graduate students.

“Great things never come from comfort zones“ is her mantra.

VP of Postdoctoral Affairs - Mujtaba Saeed, MD

Mujtaba Saeed, MD


MBBS/MD - Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan Medical and Dental College, Lahore, Pakistan

Mujtaba is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the lab of Dipan Shah, MD, within the Debakey Heart and Vascular Center. His current research involves studying the impact of valvular heart disease (aortic, mitral, and tricuspid) on cardiac remodeling, blood flow, and clinical outcomes. He’s also involved in translational projects, experimenting with new medical devices and the application of contemporary imaging modalities.

Outside of work, Mujtaba enjoys reading, playing golf, and is fond of going on nature walks. Mujtaba has been proactive and dedicated in his contributions to MAPTA and the broader scientific community. He served as a panelist representing Houston Methodist in the landmark Postdoc Houston event, a platform that provided prospective postdocs with valuable insights into research opportunities available within the Texas Medical Center. 

As the VP of Postdoctoral Affairs, he aspires to strengthen interdisciplinary collaboration among postdoctoral fellows. He aims to implement comprehensive training programs that equip postdocs with skills beyond their research, such as leadership, communication, and teamwork.

VP of International Affairs - Khaled Taghlabi, MD

Khaled Taghlabi, MD


MD – Doctor of Medicine, Beirut Arab University, Beirut, Lebanon 


Khaled is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Neurological Surgery. After completing his research fellowship in Spine Surgery at University of Kansas Medical Center, Khaled joined Dr. Amir Faraji at Houston Methodist Research Institute to establish the Clinical Innovations Laboratory. His research is focused on the interplay of electric fields and currents with neural tissue for regenerative medicine, electrokinetic fluid transport, convection-enhanced drug delivery, neuromodulation of function, and the development of bioelectronic interfaces and prosthetics to promote functional recovery after a neurodegenerative disorder, traumatic injury, stroke, tumor, or peripheral nerve disorder. 

Outside of his research pursuits, Khaled enjoys a variety of activities such as swimming, spending time with friends, and traveling. Interestingly, his move to Houston introduced him to baseball, and he has become a fan of the Houston Astros. As MAPTA’s VP for International Affairs, he is dedicated to fostering diversity, supporting all trainees, celebrating different cultures, and building connections within the research and medical community. His mission is to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for individuals from all backgrounds.

VP of Outreach - Sahar Samimi, MD

Sahar Samimi, MD


MD- Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran


Sahar is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the lab of Sachin Goel, MD. Her research is mainly focused on gaining deeper understanding of the mechanisms of valvular heart disease. Her research goals are to improve health outcomes for people with valvular heart disease, lower treatment costs, and eliminate health disparities.

Outside of the lab, she spends her time running, rock climbing, and getting lost in her novels. In her role as MAPTA VP for Outreach, she's focused on fostering a collaborative and inclusive networking environment both inside and outside of the institute, championing each trainee.