Gabriela Salinas came to the United States from Bolivia as a 7-year-old child seeking treatment for a misdiagnosed ailment and ended up coming to Memphis as a cancer patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. When she first arrived at CBU in 2007, she was recovering from her third bout with cancer.

Gabby partially credits her interest in the sciences with her experiences as a patient and the curiosity that was aroused by the treatments she received. She graduated in 2011 with a BS in Biochemistry, and upon graduation, she went to work at St. Jude in the department of Chemical Biology and Therapeutics. She is currently seeking her PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences through the University of Kentucky, where her research focuses on a novel drug to treat malaria.

In addition to managing her research and studies, Gabby still travels the country as a champion for the work of St. Jude. As an advocate for St. Jude’s work, she founded a fundraising team, Danny’s Dream Team, composed of pediatric cancer survivors who participate in the annual St. Jude Half Marathon.  She has also served on the St. Jude Family Advisory Council, helping to make the experience of patients more family-centered through education, communication, and patient-care facilities and programs. Because healthcare is so important to  Gabby, she is also an active board member of Alliance Health Services, one of the largest providers of mental healthcare services in the Mid-South. 

Gabby has also committed herself to give back to the community by becoming involved in the political arena, actively campaigning for issues related to healthcare and education. She has run for elected office twice, for Tennessee State Senate in 2018 and for State House of Representatives in 2020. She was elected chairwoman of the Shelby County Democratic Party in August 2021 and also serves on the board of Fuerza, a political-action committee organized to reach out to Latino voters and engage them in the voting process and registering to vote.