The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation announced that five scientists with novel approaches to fighting cancer have been named 2011 recipients of the Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award. The grant of $450,000 over three years is awarded each year to early career scientists whose projects have the potential to significantly impact the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
The 2011 Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovators are:
Alexei A. Aravin, PhD
California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California
About one half of the human genome is occupied by sequences of DNA called transposable elements that can move within the genome, damaging normal genes and causing mutations or chromosomal rearrangements. Often referred to as "junk DNA," several lines of research highlight the importance of transposable elements in cancer development.
Dr. Aravin's goal is to comprehensively investigate the role that transposable elements play in cancer. He will study how transposable elements mobilize, their effect on gene regulation, and how they contribute to cancer initiation and growth. His research will provide a better understanding of tumorigenesis and may form the basis for new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for cancer.
James E. Bradner, MD
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts
The ability to undergo cell division is encoded in the genomes of all human cells. This process requires a symphony of growth genes to be turned on, and then silenced when cell division is no longer needed. The activation of the growth program in healthy cells is conducted by a small number of master regulatory genes called transcription factors. In contrast, abnormal unrestricted cell growth is encoded in the genomes of all cancer cells. This uncontrolled growth is attributable to acquired mutations in the genome, which result in hyperactivity of the master regulators. Many people
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Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation