Meet Dr. Adrian Rivera-Reyes


A Philadelphia For All


Adrian Rivera-Reyes was born in Puerto Rico and raised by a working-class family. From an early age he wanted to make a difference in his larger community. Throughout high school and undergraduate studies, Adrian volunteered to visit children with cancer. This experience served as his inspiration to dedicate his life to developing treatments and therapies for cancer and allowed him to obtain his Ph.D. in Cancer Biology from the University of Pennsylvania.

Not only has Adrian’s work in cancer research been rewarding, but throughout his studies he became increasingly involved in the Philadelphia community. His passion for justice and equity led him to be at the center of student activism. As passionate and committed leader, he sought out to help solve the issues he and other workers face. He served as a labor organizer for Graduate Employees Together – University of Pennsylvania (GET-UP) in an effort to unionize student-workers. As a labor organizer, Adrian engaged with workers to learn about their concerns and also work as a collective to gain power and ensure their rights as workers.

Adrian is also committed to challenging the status quo through diversity and inclusion initiatives and outreach. Knowing that the best type of leadership is one where all voices are welcomed, cherished, and heard, he has been at the forefront of efforts to recruit students from diverse backgrounds to Penn Medicine. His commitment to ensuring inclusion and diversity led him to become a co-chair for the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the 2017 Philadelphia March for Science. As co-chair, Adrian helped ensure representation of people from all backgrounds, including speakers at the march.

Leading the Penn Science Policy and Diplomacy Group, a group dedicated to creating and expanding opportunities in Policy and Diplomacy for scientists at Penn, Adrian become involved in federal and local politics. In this capacity, Adrian advocated before members of Congress in Washington, DC for student rights, fought against the tax overhaul, and pushed for sensible on campus sexual harassment policies for educational institutions all over the country. He also served as a policy analyst for US Congressional Candidate, Dr. Molly Sheehan, for whom he did policy research on immigration in Philadelphia and H-1B visa programs and healthcare reform.

Adrian is a working-class “PhillyRican” committed to fighting for and with Philadelphians. To his family and friends, he’s a passionate, energetic, and hard-working person who has always set up to do what is right. To his colleagues, he’s Dr. Rivera-Reyes, a published cancer biologist. To the residents of Philadelphia, he is Adrian.