Mexico MHIRT Site

Ensenada The Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education of Ensenada (CICESE; is an entity of the Mexican federal government that is part of a network of research centers that are affiliated with Mexico’s National Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT). It is located in Ensenada, Baja California, only 100 km south the US-Mexico border. CICESE has more than 190 researchers covering a variety of fields, including Oceanography, Applied Physics, Earth Sciences and Experimental and Applied Biology, throughout 17 post-graduate programs. It collaborates with a large number of researchers at national institutions as well as those abroad, including SDSU, and also with national and international pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies with the aim of developing new drugs and products, so most of the research funding is external. The objective of the Biomedical Innovation Department is to conduct applied research that leads to the transfer of new advances and technologies to the pharmaceutical industry at the national and international levels. Research conducted at CICESE has led to the isolation of biologically active molecules with potential for treating a broad array of diseases, including tuberculosis, diabetes, pain and cancer (colon, breast, cervical, lung, prostate and skin). Example Projects with potential for student involvement include:
  1. Regulation of T cell differentiation by marine molecules.
  2. Effect of conotoxins in murine Th1/Th2 immune polarization.
  3. Packaging perforine cytotoxic molecules by viral capsid protein.
  4. Neutralization of human cytokines using shark antibodies
  5. Analysis of the variability of 3 synthetic shark libraries.
  6. Isolation and characterization of conotoxins.
Requirements: Students who have (or will have by time of the research experience) completed their junior year and had courses in organic chemistry, physics, and cell molecular biology. Spanish language skills are helpful, but not required. For more information about this site, please contact the MHIRT program PI, Dena Plemmons at, or Kathy Kemp, the MHIRT Program Coordinator, at  

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Welcome to the Mexico Blog!

This is the area of the page where students who are currently enrolled in the MHIRT program can post their thoughts, pictures and experience on how it’s like to visit and work at the sites. Please enjoy and to get a more detailed account, feel free to click on the headline of the article and it will take you directly to the post page.

Third Week: The Beginning

Almost halfway through the third week and it has been great so far. Since arriving at Ensenada there has been a lot of things to do at CICESE.  By the second day I met my PI/Mentor and the graduate students I will be working with, everyone is very friendly. That same week we arrived we […]

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One of the thing that I’m enjoying from this experience is the culture and the people I’m meeting. Although the languages and science are similar in some ways, back home I don’t think I would have had some of the unique interactions I had here; both with people and daily life unexpected situations. You know […]

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Longest Lab

The longest day in the lab I have ever experienced was on a Saturday. My lab mentor and I  had to work on the weekend to get venom ready to test on a new batch of mice. We had to run HPLC  re purification on different fractions of sea anemone. We arrived at the lab […]

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Wine tasting (pt. 1)

This weekend Kevin and I had the awesome opportunity to visit a winery, Monte Xanic, in the valley of Ensenada.  We have a roommate that works there, and he gave us a free tour of the location, as well as a generously discounted wine tasting.  I’ll attach a picture at the bottom of this post.  For me, […]

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Week Four

Today is the Tuesday of my fifth week here in Ensenada, but this post is about my last week.  Last Monday I continued working in cell culture with Johanna.  I’ve been kept pretty busy, working on the photo-aging project with my mentor, while also working on the sea anemone/conotoxin project with Kevin and his mentors. […]

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Week 3

This week was pretty exciting Kevin and I got to do a lot of new work.  Monday we dissected venom ducts from the species Conus regularis and Conus mahogani to get a sample to be used in the lab later for the conotoxin project.  We have been purifying similar venom samples and characterizing them to […]

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Week 2 Mexico

Academically and socially, Ensenada has been eye opening. In the lab, I have started working on my project of testing the antinoceiptive properties of venom from different species of cone snails. We have extracted the venom, purified it through HPLC, and are getting ready to test the venom on live mice models. Our lab mates […]

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Week 1

Just finished today, June 13th at around 3pm from the lab at CICESE.  Today marks one week since our first day.  The weather was amazing, not a cloud in the sky with an awesome view of the city and the beach.  Kevin and I went started work at 9am, I was running HPLC all day […]

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First day at the lab

Arrived at work around 8:50am, but didn’t start working until 9:20am, which seems to be a pattern according to Nick, most the of time we don’t start working until 30 mins after the set time. For the first day the work pace is pretty slow compared to other labs that I have been in, but […]

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