Juan Guillermo (Guillo) Cadena Memorial Fund

Dr. Juan Guillermo (Guillo) Cadena

Juan Guillermo (Guillo) Cadena

Guillo was born in Chicago, IL. on November 22, 1969, and grew up in Tampa, Florida. Guillo was a graduate of Jesuit High School in Tampa where he excelled in athletics and was a member of the state champion soccer team. He moved to New England in the mid-1990s and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2000. After a brief return to Florida, Guillo moved back to Amherst in 2002 to join the Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB) graduate program as a Ph.D. candidate. Guillo received his Ph.D. in 2009 under the mentorship of Dr. Larry Schwartz. Dr. Cadena’s research focused on understanding why a certain population of cells called dopaminergic neurons are uniquely vulnerable to degeneration in individuals with autosomal juvenile parkinsonism (ARJP).

Guillo was extremely dedicated to his research and had always credited the successful completion of his Ph.D. to the strong support of his advisor Dr. Schwartz, as well as many distinguished faculty members in the MCB program who guided him throughout the process. Guillo also conducted research at the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute in Springfield, MA.

In his teenage years, Guillo was diagnosed with aplastic anemia and sought a suitable bone marrow donor for nearly 30 years. In 2010, Guillo was diagnosed with metastatic cancer and within a few months had succumbed to complications from chemotherapy treatment. At the time of his passing in July, 2010 Guillo was survived by his wife, 2-year old twins (Amaya and Gabriel), parents, siblings, and many close friends.

The Cadena Travel and Training Fund

The Cadena Travel and Training Fund was established in 2020, 10 years after Guillo’s passing. In memory of his dedication to science and teaching, Guillo’s close friends Nasser and Susanne Rusan, with help and support from Guillo’s family, believed it was only fitting to keep Guillo’s memory alive by giving back to the MCB program, a program that Guillo deeply cherished.


The Cadena fund will provide travel funds to MCB students to support their training with the long-term goal of providing a self-sustaining travel award for decades ahead. To accomplish this, UMass has established an endowment fund that we aim to grow over the next 5 years through generous contributions from family, friends, and the UMass community.

Rolling application deadlines for conferences

To apply, please supply the following material through the Google Form

  • Name, year, laboratory
  • Name and description of the meeting you would like to attend
  • Cost of Registration fees
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • An impact statement (1 paragraph) about how attending this meeting would improve your training
  • Comment on necessity for the funds (if applicable)

Decision Process and Criteria

  • Applications will be evaluated by the MCB steering committee
  • Awards will be announced by the end of the Spring Semester
  • Other considerations beyond your impact statement and CV may inform the selection process and should be addressed in a comment on necessity for the funds. These include:
    1. Financial needs due to limited funding availability to support your travel plans
    2. Expanding training beyond your current lab’s research focus
    3. Travel to non-traditional scientific meetings that could support career paths beyond academia.
  • Since the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the cancellation of nearly all scientific conferences for the foreseeable future, the 2021 Cadena funds will be used to support registration fees for virtual conferences. Since student registration fees for online conferences should be low, we expect to be able to fund more awards this year than in the future. Once in-person meetings and travel resume we expect to support as many awards (initially expected to be ~3) as the level of funds permit each year. 

Juan Guillermo (Guillo) CadenaJuan Guillermo (Guillo) Cadena