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BIDMC researcher receives Young Investigator Award from Prostate Cancer Foundation

BOSTON Akash Patnaik, MD, PhD, a physician-scientist in the Hematology/Oncology Divison at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Instructor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School has received a Young Investigator Award from The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF). The three-year $225,000 award, one of 21 made to young scientists from across the U.S. and Canada, is designed to encourage the most innovative minds in cancer research to focus their careers on prostate cancer.

Patnaik's research focuses on the relationship between diet-induced obesity /associated metabolic abnormalities and prostate cancer. With the PCF funding, he will investigate the molecular mechanisms that link the metabolic abnormalities of obesity to poor outcomes in prostate cancer patients.

"Hormones, such as insulin, are increased in obese patients and are known to drive the progression and survival of prostate cancer cells," Patnaik explains. "Recent epidemiological studies have shown that men who are treated with metformin, a medication prescribed for Type 2 diabetes, have a reduced risk of prostate cancer." Patnaik will evaluate the anti-cancer mechanism and efficacy of metformin and related medications to prolong overall survival of patients with advanced prostate cancer.

"Obesity is strongly associated with poor prostate cancer prognosis," notes Lewis Cantley, PhD, Patnaik's postdoctoral research mentor and Director of BIDMC's Cancer Center and William Bosworth Castle Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. "Dr. Patnaik's investigations promise to provide us with a better understanding of the molecular events that drive obesity-induced cancers, and provide a rationale for a new metabolic treatment strategy for advanced prostate-cancer patients."

Patnaik will utilize a "co-clinical trial paradigm" to identify novel targeted therapies for advanced prostate cancer patients. In this way he will assess the responses of genetically engineered mouse models to specific cancer drugs, and then use this information to stratify patients into specific treatment arms, based on patients' cancer mutations and their individual metabolic profiles.


Contact: Bonnie Prescott
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

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