Current Grants

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Nikita Jinna, PhD

Beckman Research Institute at City of Hope, CA

PROJECT: Kinesin family member C1 (KIFC1/MSET): A potential actionable biomarker of quadruple negative breast cancer in West African-ancestry

Quadruple Negative breast cancer lacks androgen receptor (AR) expression, is now considered the most aggressive form of breast cancer. This disease predominantly affects black women and may be contributing to their overall survival rates relative to white women. This proposal may uncover a promising treatment option to QNBCs and aid in closing the racial gap in breast cancer outcomes.

 

$60,000

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Katharina Hoebel, MD, PhD

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston MA

PROJECT: Deciphering spatial and genetic interactions in the non-small cell lung cancer tumor microenvironment using network-oriented artificial intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has enormous potential to drive the development of improved personalized treatment methods for patients with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer, one of the most common and deadly forms of cancer. Central to our study is the tumor microenvironment – a complex milieu where cancer cells interact with non-tumor cells, including immune cells. We are using an innovative AI approach to enhance our understanding of these interactions and the layout of cells in this environment. This is crucial as it differs from patient to patient. We aim to provide detailed insights into these unique characteristics, which can then guide physicians in making more tailored and effective treatment decisions for each patient.

“I am leveraging data-driven methods, especially artificial intelligence, to improve our understanding of cell interactions within the tumor microenvironment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). By focusing on these spatial relationships, we aim to identify novel biomarkers that could transform patient care. The NCC grant is crucial; it not only propels my research forward but also supports my professional growth towards becoming an independent researcher merging the strengths of data science with oncology.”

 

$60,000

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Yixin Hu, PhD

Rockefeller University

PROJECT: Investigating how TGFb signaling drives genome architecture alterations and malignancy

Investigating tumor microenvironment signaling pathways in squamous cell carcinoma to understand TGFbeta’s role in driving chromatin interaction changes and malignancy, aiming to elucidate therapy resistance mechanisms.

“The investigation into TGFbeta signaling in squamous cell carcinoma is vital for unraveling the underlying mechanisms of malignancy and therapeutic resistance emergence, potentially offering breakthroughs in cancer treatment. NCC grant funds are essential for supporting this research, enabling the exploration of novel avenues to combat metastatic cancer and improve patient outcomes.”

 

$60,000

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Hengrui Liu, PhD

Rockefeller University

PROJECT: Exploring the Achille’s heel of therapeutic resistance in cancer

Dr. Liu’s research project aims to explore and target the weakness points of cancer stem cells to overcome the therapeutic resistance in cancer therapy.

“Exploring the Achille’s Heel of therapeutic resistance in cancer”

 

$60,000

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Diego Martinez Alonso, PhD

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston MA

PROJECT: Evaluation of CDK4/6 roles in RNA processing in cancer

Alternative splicing allows cells to modify the information encoded in RNA molecules by joining parts of a gene in different combinations, increasing protein diversity and adaptation to environmental cues. We have discovered that the proteins CDK4/6, frequently deregulated in cancer, control this process in normal and tumor cells

The relevance of CDK4/6 inhibitors in the clinic was an important consideration when choosing this research. With the crucial help of NCC funding, our work can help understand the biological implication of this novel role and improve the use of CDK4/6 inhibitors as anticancer drugs.”

 

$60,000

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Jibin Sadasivan, PhD

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

PROJECT: Decoding stress-induced alterations in cancer cell signaling and migration

Cancer spreads from where it starts to a distant part of the body through metastasis, a process responsible for most cancer deaths. This project aims to understand how cancer cells move through stressful environments during metastasis.

“This project will provide fundamental understanding of the mechanisms that drive cell migration during stress and uncover novel therapeutic targets that could lead to improved cancer treatment strategies in the future. The support from NCC will provide me an exceptional opportunity to advance my research directions, gain training in cancer biology, and establish myself as an independent
researcher.”

 

$60,000

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Marija Simic, PhD

Hernando Lab, Department of Pathology
NYU Grossman School of Medicine

PROJECT: Dissecting the Role of the Immune Microenvironment in Melanoma bone metastasis

Bone metastasis is a frequent and debilitating complication of melanoma that is associated with poor patient outcomes. Using novel murine models and human tissues, we will study how melanoma cells evade the host immune response to survive and grow in the bone microenvironment. Our findings may apply to bone metastases of other tumors, and open an avenue to potential new treatments for this devastating condition.

“I am interested in understanding the tumor-immune interactions in the skeleton, and their contribution to therapy resistance in patients who present with bone metastases. The successful outcomes arising from this project will pave the way for novel, effective therapeutic strategies to overcome this debilitating disease and improve melanoma patient outcomes. The funds from the National Cancer Center will provide critical support to establish the early stage of this line of research, and it will be a key step toward achieving my career goal of becoming an independent
researcher.”

 

$60,000

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Suman Dash, Ph.D.

Columbia University

PROJECT: Defining the Role of the Tumor Microenvironment in Pancreatic Cancer Subtypes

Pancreatic cancer, a leading cause of cancer-related deaths, presents complex challenges. Our research delves into the tumor microenvironment in aggressive subtypes like adenosquamous carcinoma of the pancreas (ASCP) using our novel Msi2-Myc model in which oncogenic Myc is expressed specifically in stem and progenitor cells of the pancreas. Understanding ASCP’s unique microenvironment and defining the factors that control ASCP growth have the potential to lead to new approaches to therapy and improved patient outcomes. With funding from the NCC, I will be able to advance my understanding of pancreatic cancer as well as my professional development toward being an independent researcher.

We are investigating how a population of immune cells, Th1 cells, which are present during chronic intestinal inflammation may play a role in colon cancer development. Intestinal inflammation in general is increasing in prevalence due to environmental and dietary factors; thus, it is imperative that we investigate how this inflammation influences colorectal tumorigenesis. The funds from the National Cancer Center are vital to both the scientific advancement of this project as well as establishing myself as an early independent investigator.

 

$60,000

2024 Renewed Grantees

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Tanzina Tanu , Ph.D.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston MA

PROJECT: Investigating recurrently mutated RNA surveillance component ZC3H18 in melanoma

Our cells make defective ‘junk’ RNAs, luckily RNA surveillance machinery identifies and disposes of them. I will work to understand why recurrent mutations occur in RNA surveillance genes in cancer.

“I chose this research because I have a long-standing interest in understanding how RNA surveillance shapes gene expression in human disease. This work has the promise of revealing new therapeutic targets for melanoma, the most lethal type of skin cancer. I am thankful to the National Cancer Center for helping to advance my long-term career goal of becoming an independent researcher who uses basic science to discover new therapies for patients.”

 

$52,000

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Sydney Moyer, Ph.D.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston MA

PROJECT: Th1 cells with increased adhesion pathway expression are required for inflammation-associated colorectal cancer development and progression

“We are investigating how a population of immune cells, Th1 cells, which are present during chronic intestinal inflammation may play a role in colon cancer development. Intestinal inflammation in general is increasing in prevalence due to environmental and dietary factors; thus, it is imperative that we investigate how this inflammation influences colorectal tumorigenesis. The funds from the National Cancer Center are vital to both the scientific advancement of this project as well as establishing myself as an early independent investigator.”

 

$52,000

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Xiaowei Wu, Ph.D.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston MA

PROJECT: Targeting residual cancer cells upon CDK4/6 inhibition

“Anti-cancer drugs called ‘CDK4/6 inhibitors’ arrest the proliferation of cancer cells, but they are unable to eliminate the residual cancer cells. My project aims to facilitate the killing of those residual cancer cells. This study will provide new therapies to prevent cancer relapse and improve patient survival. The NCC fellowship grant will not only ensure the successful completion of this project but also support my career development as a cancer researcher.”

 

$52,000

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Guimei Jiang, Ph.D.

NY University, New York, NY

PROJECT: Use of cancer associated CTCF mutations to investigate CTCFs role in regulating imprinted regions and their contribution to cancer

“We study how high frequency cancer associated CTCF mutations contribute to tumorigenesis through global changes in gene regulation and disruption of allelic imprinting.

Understanding the mechanisms that give rise to cancer is critical for finding effective cures. My specific interest is in determining how chromatin organization at the three dimensional level orchestrates specific transcriptional programs, and how disruption of chromatin architecture reprograms these in an oncogenic manner.  Funding from the NCC has provided me with the opportunity to investigate how cancer associated mutations of a key architectural protein, CTCF give rise to disease, while at the same time providing a deeper understanding of CTCF biology.”

 

$52,000

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Minzeng Zhang, M.D., Ph.D.

Dana-Farber Cancer Inst, Boston, MA

PROJECT: Quantitative immune profiling of mantle cell lymphoma for precision therapy

We are examining the immune system of patients with mantle cell lymphoma and revealing specific features that can predict clinical responses and inform the selection of optimal treatments. This project will address the clinical priorities and promote a shift to precision medicine approaches in mantle cell lymphoma. The funds from the National Cancer Center will advance my research and goal to become a physician-scientist leading an independent research laboratory primarily focused on experimental therapeutics in lymphoid malignancies.

 

$52,000

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Chitra Rawat, Ph.D.

Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland OH

PROJECT: Elucidating the role of CIT-Mediated phosphorylation on pre-mRNA splicing in prostate cancer

“My research work focuses on defining phosphorylation-dependent pre-mRNA splicing events associated with prostate cancer progression. I chose this project because it is designed to deliver new therapeutic strategies that may overcome treatment resistance and progression in prostate cancer, the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in American men. The NCC grant will provide critical support to establish the early stage of this line of research and will be a key step toward achieving my career goal of becoming an independent researcher.”

 

$52,000

2023 Grantees

He Eric Zhu, Ph.D.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston MA

PROJECT: Global Ubiquitome Profiling by Transpeptidation Aided Mass Spectrometry (TAMS) to Decipher the Ubiquitin Signaling of USP7 in Ewing sarcoma

 

$52,000

Pietro Berico, Ph.D.

New York University Medical School

PROJECT: Targeting Melanoma Plasticity Underpin Drug Resistance and Metastatic Progression

 

$52,000

Audifas Salvador Matus Meza, Ph.D.

Univ of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE

PROJECT: Development of an NTSR1-targeted Radiotherapeutic for Colorectal Cancer and Other NTSR1-positive Cancers

 

$52,000

Yongji Zeng, Ph.D.

Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX

PROJECT: The role and regulation of the Hippo pathway in paligenosis

 

$52,000

Gaurav Chauhan, Ph.D.

Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland OH

PROJECT: Deciphering the role for PKN1-SRF signaling in deregulated gene expression and splicing events in treatment-resistant prostate cancer

 

$52,000

Youngbin Cho, Ph.D.

University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh PA

PROJECT: Myosin II as a target for suppressing tumor-associated macrophage recruitment in triple-negative breast cancer

 

$52,000

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Yi Shi, Ph.D.

Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore MD

PROJECT: Intratumoral hypoxia promotes metastatic liver-organotropism in breast cancer

 

$52,000

Lizhong Ding, Ph.D.

The University of California, Los Angeles

PROJECT: Liver specific fibrosis drives immunosuppression in metastatic melanoma

 

$52,000

Jungmin Lee, Ph.D.

The University of California, San Francisco

PROJECT: Synthetic control of effector T cell infiltration into immune-excluded tumors

 

$52,000