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Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation awards $2.25M to 5 top young clinical investigators

New York, NY -- The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation named 5 new Damon Runyon Clinical Investigators at its May 2008 Clinical Investigator Award Committee review. The recipients of this prestigious, three-year award are outstanding early career physician-scientists conducting patient-oriented cancer research at major research centers under the mentorship of the nation's leading scientists and clinicians. Each will receive $450,000 to support the development of his or her cancer research program. The Clinical Investigator Award program is specifically intended to help address the worrisome shortage of physicians capable of translating scientific discovery into new breakthroughs for cancer patients. In partnerships with founding sponsor Eli Lilly and Company, and with Siemens Medical Solutions, Novartis and Genentech, the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation has committed more than $30 million to support the careers of 44 physician-scientists across the United States since 2000.

2008 Clinical Investigator Awardees

  • Ronald J. Buckanovich, MD, PhD

    By combining tumor cells and embryonic stem cells, Dr. Buckanovich has developed a new animal model of ovarian cancer that develops abundant tumor blood vessels, or vasculature. He is using this model to first characterize molecular markers of tumor vasculature, and then therapeutically target them with antibodies coupled to toxic nanoparticles. He also seeks to identify and characterize a population of cells, cancer stem cells, which play a critical role in tumor establishment and growth. These discoveries could lead to highly effective targeted therapies. Dr. Buckanovich works under the mentorship of Daniel F. Hayes, MD, and Max S. Wicha, MD, at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

  • Andrew T. Chan, MD, MPH

    Dr. Chan is developing molecular "smart" probes and novel imaging techniques for earlier and improved detection of colorectal cancer. He will soon be testing this promising technology in clinical trials. In addition, this work has the potential to accelerate the discovery and development process for therapeutic and chemopreventative agents in colorectal cancer. Dr. Chan works under the mentorship of Charles S. Fuchs, MD, MPH, and Ralph Weissleder, MD, PhD, at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.

  • Rachael A. Clark, MD, PhD

    Dr. Clark is investigating the role of the immune system in controlling squamous cell carcinomas of the skin. She has identified new mechanisms by which these skin tumors evade the immune system: disruption of T cell homing and recruitment of regulatory T cells. Her studies focus on developing new therapies for effective treatment of these cancers. Dr. Clark works under the mentorship of Thomas S. Kupper, MD, at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.

  • Vassiliki Karantza-Wadsworth, MD, PhD

    Autophagy is a process of "cellular self-digestion" that is used by both normal cells and tumor cells as a survival mechanism in times of metabolic stress, such as nutrient and oxygen deprivation. Dr. Karantza-Wadsworth is examining the role of autophagy in tumor cell survival and responsiveness to chemotherapy. She is performing preclinical and clinical studies modulating autophagy in breast cancer, which could lead to improved patient response to treatment. Dr. Karantza-Wadsworth works under the mentorship of Eric H. Rubin, MD, at UMDNJ/Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, New Jersey.

  • Elahe A. Mostaghel, MD, PhD

    Suppression of the hormone testosterone is currently the most effective treatment for advanced prostate cancer; however, tumors frequently develop resistance to this therapy. Dr. Mostaghel is defining key mechanisms underlying this resistance to hormone treatment. Her goal is to develop novel treatments for prostate cancer that can be rapidly moved into the clinic. Dr. Karantza-Wadsworth works under the mentorship of Peter S. Nelson, MD, at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington.


Contact: Yung S. Lie, PhD
Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation

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