Current Grants

National Cancer Center 2022/2023 Grants

The following post-doc fellowship grants and renewals were approved for 2022/2023

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

“We are developing novel chemoproteomic methods to comprehensively interrogate cell signaling around the enzyme USP7 as a key determinant of pathology in pediatric Ewing sarcoma. Ewing sarcoma is a rare but challenging pediatric tumor. The current standard of care, including chemotherapy or radiation, is often accompanied by complications and is less efficacious for metastatic disease. The focus of my work is to advance early-stage technologies that will elucidate cellular signaling pathways that may reveal entry points for small molecule precision therapeutics. Support from the National Cancer Center is absolutely critical to enable proof-of-concept studies.”


NCC_He Zhu

Pietro Berico, Ph.D.

New York University Medical School

PROJECT: Targeting Melanoma Plasticity Underpin Drug Resistance and Metastatic Progression

“Cutaneous melanoma aggressiveness relies in part on the ability of cancer cells to adopt different phenotypic states enabling tumoral biological properties such as metastatic capacity and therapeutic resistance. My research project is focused on the characterization of novel transcriptional regulators driving melanoma phenotypic states relevant for melanoma progression. Being a recipient of the NCC fellowship is a great honor and an essential mean to kick off my research project and career into melanoma field.”



Lizhong Ding, Ph.D.

The University of California, Los Angeles

PROJECT: Liver specific fibrosis drives immunosuppression in metastatic melanoma

My research leverages the use of high dimensional omics profiling of patient tumors to delineate mechanisms of therapy resistance in cancer. This NCC fellowship provides me the crucial support to investigate the mechanism(s) of immunotherapy resistance in melanoma patients with liver metastasis to discover novel therapeutic strategies to overcome such resistance.”



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

“I chose this research because the development of radiotherapeutics needs to be further explored and will provide new strategies for cancer therapy. The NCC Grant is crucial at this stage because it will support funding and give me the opportunity to start the early stage of this research.”



Yongji Zeng, Ph.D.

Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX

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

“I am investigating the functional phosphorylation sites of Hippo pathway components that regulate paligenosis using a multi-omics approach to understand how precursor lesions form in the gastroenterological tract, induce metaplasia, become chronic, and eventually become cancerous. Support for this work from the National Cancer Center enables me to establish this new area of research as my focus during the early phase of my career.”


Yongji Zeng

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

“This project strives to unravel the prostate cell type-specific action of a clinically relevant transcriptional complex during the progression from therapy-sensitive to therapy-resistant prostate cancer. I designed this project to gain information on the role of different prostate cell lineages in the action of a mediator of aggressive behavior and progression of prostate cancer, which remains the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men. The NCC award will allow me to pursue a higher risk study that would be difficult to fund otherwise but can yield important new information to pursue this mediator for much-needed novel prostate cancer therapies.”



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

My research project aims to understand how the physical properties of cancer cells affect the immune environment in breast tumors. The NCC fellowship supports me in focusing on the interdisciplinary research in this emerging field and better understanding the complexity of the tumor microenvironment for cancer treatment.



Ines Godet, Ph.D.

Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore MD

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

By generating and utilizing transcriptomic data from metastatic leasions of patients with breast cancer, we are investigating the role of AKR1C enzymes in liver metastasis.

The 5-year survival rate for patients with metastatic breast cancer is only 27% and about 50% of these patients develop liver metastasis. My goal as a researcher is to contribute to improve the outcome of these patients.

The NCC funds will be critical to help us identify biomarkers and specific therapeutic targets to potentially predict and/or treat liver metastasis.



Jungmin Lee, Ph.D.

The University of California, San Francisco

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

“My research aims to improve tumor infiltration of therapeutic T cells into an immunosuppressed, immune-excluded solid tumor by employing a synthetic circuit that modulates signals mediating immune cell trafficking to the tumor microenvironment.”



Varadha Belaji Venkadakrishnan, Ph.D.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA

PROJECT: Collaboration between EZH2 and DNA methyltransferase to drive lineage programming in advanced prostate cancer

“I am studying the interaction of key epigenetic regulators in driving lineage plasticity as a mechanism of treatment resistance in prostate cancer. I am excited about this project because of its potential clinical impact in providing new therapeutic strategies to treat or reverse lineage plasticity, with a goal to improve outcomes for patients with prostate cancer. The NCC fellowship provides critical support to this project, both by funding the science and in supporting me at this early stage of my career. “



Murilo Ramos Rocha, Ph.D.

Johns Hopkins Univ, Baltimore MD

PROJECT: Dissecting the role of lipid metabolism in metastasis and immune therapy efficacy in older melanoma patients

“Older melanoma patients are usually underrepresented in clinical trials even though they comprise most cases. This NCC grant allows us to explore how natural consequences of aging will impact melanoma progression and how to improve clinical response targeting these changes.”



Elena Grossi, Ph.D.

Icahn School of Medicine, New York, NY

PROJECT: Profiling SWI/SNF complex mutations in melanoma initiation

“My research project aims to understand how highly recurrent mutations in epigenetic factors promote tumor initiation of malignant melanoma, a deadly skin cancer. The NCC grant will allow me to investigate the oncogenic potential of these factors and ideally translate these findings to clinically relevant models and identify therapeutic targets.”



Carmen Adriaens, Ph.D.

Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA

PROJECT: Targeting DMNT1 to induce anti-cancer gene expression programs and synthetic lethality

“My project focuses on characterizing epigenetic regulation of the genome in cancer cells and leveraging cancer-specific changes for therapy.”



Narek Darabedian, Ph.D.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA

PROJECT: Covalent manipulation of undrugged metabolic proteins to treat cancer

“I choose this research because I have had a wide interest in how metabolic changes alter homeostasis, hence understanding this connect can drive the understanding of different phenotypes and diseases. The funds provided by the NCC allowed me to focus on my research to hopefully find a treatment of cancer. “



Chiwei Xu, Ph.D.

The Rockefeller Univ, New York, NY

PROJECT: Crosstalk between epithelial stem cells and peripheral nerves in cancer

“Trained as a stem cell biologist, I am interested in the basic principles of tissue organization and fascinated by the intimate association between stem cells that maintain our barrier organs and peripheral nerves that sense the environment. The support of NCC allows me to explore uncharted territories, adapt new cutting-edge techniques, and perform inter-disciplinary work in this emerging field, which will hopefully pave new avenues for cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.”