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 | Staff Report

Moffitt, Saint Leo University Collaborate to Provide Career, Education Opportunities

April 17, 2023 | With an eye to the future, Saint Leo University hosted the first Moffitt & Saint Leo University Community Expo today (Friday, April 14) to showcase career and educational opportunities. 

The Moffitt & Saint Leo University Community Expo was open to the public and offered resume reviews; a career fair; wellness and mindfulness activities; a networking lunch; and informational sessions including discussion of Saint Leo’s nursing, medical humanities, biology and natural sciences, and social work programs as well as career opportunities at Moffitt. Participants had the opportunity to engage in discussions about partnership opportunities with Pasco County and Saint Leo and learn about the exciting cancer research being conducted by Saint Leo students and faculty and by Moffitt personnel and students. 

Both institutions are committed to developing and supporting people as a whole in body, mind, and spirit, noted Dr. Ed Dadez, university president, during the kickoff celebration marking the collaboration between Moffitt and Saint Leo. 

“Saint Leo’s motto is ‘Courage to be More,’ and that is a common thread,” Dadez said about the two institutions, with both offering opportunities for people to make the world a better place. 

“Our vision very much aligns with the university,” said Dr. Kelley Gonzalvo, vice president of Patient Care Services and chief nursing officer of Moffitt Cancer Center. Moffitt was established in 1986 by the Florida Legislature and now has more than 8,000 team members, she said. 

Moffitt also is expanding into Pasco County, which is home to Saint Leo, with its 775-acre Speros FL, a global center for research, health care, and innovation. 

Donald Futrell, vice president of Planning, Design and Construction for Moffitt, along with Mike Bishop, director of Stakeholder Engagement for the Pasco Economic Development Council, and Dr. Mark Gesner, vice president of Community Engagement & Communications for Saint Leo, discussed partnership opportunities for the county, university, and the new Moffitt development. 

Futrell noted that Speros FL will be larger than downtown Tampa. “We’re building a city,” he said. Approximately 500 of the 775 acres will be developed leaving 35 percent of the land for environmental conservation. “It will blend with the natural environment and be sustainable,” Futrell said. World-class architects also will capture the essence of the environment and provide space that helps with the healing process. 

A recurring theme for the Moffitt & Saint Leo University Community Expo was that “opportunities are limitless,” and those attending the conference were excited about the collaborative possibilities, including internships, jobs for graduates and alumni, training and research collaborations, and much more. 

For example, the massive new development will provide many opportunities in areas such as artificial intelligence, patient care, general biotech, research, patient care, medical tourism, pharma, radiology, lodging and hotels, cell therapies, and more. 

When the Speros FL project is completed, Moffitt anticipates its members will number 14,000. By the end of 2027, Moffitt projects it will have 2,400 employees on the Pasco County campus. 

Not only are scientists, researchers, nurses, and other medical professionals needed, but there also will be jobs in cybersecurity, business operations, social work, information technology, and other fields.

Saint Leo Vice President of Academic Affairs Mary Spoto, as well as faculty members Dr. Kathy Van Eerden, dean of the College of Health Professions; Dr. Ebony Perez, chair of undergraduate social work; and Dr. Laura Altfeld, chair of natural and physical sciences, presented many of the educational opportunities that Saint Leo offers for degree-seeking individuals. Moffitt representatives also discussed the needs in their areas. Representing Moffitt were Sean Powell, senior director of care management and social work; Courtney Ullrich, pharmacy manager, and digital health representative;Marc Perkins-Carillo, chief nursing informatics officer; and Sissy Schilling, chief applications systems officer.

Ullrich told a student who is majoring in biology with minors in chemistry and education, that the pharmacy area of Moffitt could be a great fit. From medication education to advising people, it all is teaching. “One of the reasons I went into pharmacy is because I love teaching,” she said. 

A Research Showcase put the spotlight on cancer research at Saint Leo University and Moffitt. Dr. Sergiy Borysov, Saint Leo assistant professor of biology at Saint Leo University; and Moffitt representatives Dr. Aleksandra Karolak, faculty, machine learning; and Moffitt lab students Ishwarya Maganti and Aarya Preetam Satardekah, shared insight into their research. 

Borysov, who also studied and worked at Moffitt, noted that Saint Leo and the cancer center have practical approaches to problems. “We are providing practical, relevant education at Saint Leo,” he said. “We try to engage our students in so much practical experience.” 

And those students translate that hands-on learning and research into careers in many fields. 

“I am so excited about our future,” said Bill Cronin, Pasco Economic Development Council president/CEO, in a statement. Cronin was in the United Kingdom talking to businesses about partnering with Moffitt’s Speros FL.

“Saint Leo University and Moffitt Cancer Center are both well-known centers of excellence. Having the two institutions work together to enhance our talent pipeline will benefit Pasco County and the Tampa Bay region for generations to come. These are the kind of partnerships that bolster a strong infrastructure support system and attracts life science companies and venture capitalists. Congratulations to Pasco EDC Policy Council members, Saint Leo University, and Moffitt Cancer Center.”

About Saint Leo University: Saint Leo University is one of the largest Catholic universities in the nation, offering more than 100 undergraduate and graduate-level degree programs and specializations to more than 15,300 students each year. Founded in 1889 in the Benedictine tradition, the private, nonprofit university is known for providing an education to learners of all backgrounds and ages. Saint Leo is regionally accredited and offers a residential campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, at education centers, and through an online program for students anywhere. The university is home to more than 103,000 alumni. Learn more at