Our Vision

"Our laboratory is based on an interdisciplinary, participatory team science approach aimed at scientific discovery for the benefit of cancer patients, our community and mankind". 

                                                                     -Dr. Jaime L. Matta


Starting in 1997, the Matta laboratory has been primarily focused on the field of molecular epidemiology of cancer, studying the role of DNA repair as a risk factor for breast and skin cancer.


  • First cancer research laboratory that was established at the Ponce Research Institute and Ponce Health Sciences University.
  • Cancer studies began in 1997, skin cancer 1999-2006, breast cancer 2006-currently
  • Cancer studies have been funded by NASA, RCMI Program, NCI and NIGMS (MBRS SCORE)
  • Laboratory has focused on conducting translational cancer research in large scale population studies, with emphasis on the role of DNA repair as a risk factor for breast and skin cancer, identifying DNA repair genes involved in cancer susceptibility, and studying epigenetic mechanisms by which such genes are regulated.
  • Have recruited nearly 1,200 women in a case-control study (2006-2012) corresponding to 65 municipalities in the island
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  • Collaborative network with 20 physicians (surgeons, oncologists, pathologists, gynecologists)
  • First laboratory to report that a low DNA repair capacity is an important risk for breast cancer (Ramos et al. 2004)
  • Received full patent in 2012 from the US Patent Trade Office for method to link DNA repair capacity levels with risk of developing breast cancer
  • Have identified key epidemiological factors associated with skin and breast cancer
  • Actively studying two epigenetic mechanisms (miRNAs, DNA methylation) that might explain loss of DNA repair capacity
  • Have trained numerous undergraduate, graduate, medical students as well as 3 postdoctoral fellows. Several hematology-oncology fellows have rotated through the laboratory.
  • Have secured uninterrupted research funding for 23 years including very competitive SC1 grant (NIGMS MBRS SCORE) “Factors associated with variability in DNA Repair capacity and their effect on breast cancer””
  • In the 2010 AACR meeting, research linking multivitamin and calcium consumption with sharp reductions in breast cancer risk   was evaluated as highly meritorious (top 2-3%) by the AACR Program Committee. This was disemminated through major newswires worldwide and published (Vergne et al. 2013).
  • Have maintained active collaborations with laboratories in Puerto Rico and the US mainland.