COLUMBUS, Ohio — Four exceptional postdoctoral scientists have been awarded fellowships from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) funded through its annual Pelotonia Fellowship Program.
The student research fellowships are supported by funds raised through Pelotonia, an annual cycling event that has raised more than $156 million for cancer research at the OSUCCC – James.
To date, the Pelotonia Fellowship Program has invested more than $13 million in 440 undergraduate, graduate, professional and postdoctoral researchers working on their own ideas in the labs of cancer center faculty mentors at Ohio State, Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. This program offers one-year awards to undergraduate and professional students and two-year awards to graduates and postdoctoral trainees so they have enough time to fully immerse themselves in the research experience.
New fellowship awardees include:
Immune Therapy for Metastatic Breast Cancer
Awardee: Kirti Kaul, PhD, of Maharashtra, India
Under the mentorship of Ramesh Ganju, PhD, Kaul will study the role the immune cells play in regulating and slowing metastatic cancer growth. She will specifically look at whether a protein called Slit2, which is naturally expressed in healthy individuals but suppressed in breast cancer patients, exerts antitumor activity by altering cell energy production and use. This laboratory study is expected to help scientists develop new, more effective treatment strategies for metastatic breast cancer by enhancing the body’s existing immune system defenses to recognize and attack cancer cells.
Understanding New Aspects of Cancer Cellular Division
Awardee: Larissa Valle Guilhen Longo, PhD, of Sao Paulo, Brazil
The process of cellular division ensures that all cells in the body have the same DNA content and, therefore, the same genetic information. Mistakes in the cell division process can result in cells carrying abnormal DNA content that promotes cancer growth. Scientists know this cellular division process is similar in plants, animals, yeast and human cells. Under the mentorship of Jian-Qiu Wu, PhD, Valle Guilhen Longo will take a deeper look at the cellular division process to provide insight into mechanisms of human cellular division. This knowledge is expected to add to the overall understanding of specific cellular mechanisms involved in cancer development.
Epigenetic Changes in Blood Cancer
Awardee: Christoph Weigel, PhD, of Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany
Understanding why patients with the same type of cancer experience the disease in varied severities is crucial to creating personalized cancer treatment therapy based on a patient’s unique tumor characteristics. Epigenetics is a newer field of research that involves studying DNA-level changes that occur as the result of external influences, not mistakes in the natural cell division process. Epigenetic differences among individual patients determine the unique characteristics of a patient’s cancer. Under the mentorship of Christopher Oakes, PhD, Weigel will develop a new blood cancer model based on isolated cells from healthy donors to study epigenetic changes in cells and the role these changes play in both cancer development and progression. The goal is to identify new ways to use specific tumor characteristics to detect and treat blood cancer in the future.
Understanding Drug Resistance in Acute Myeloid Leukemia
Awardee: Megan Zavorka Thomas, PhD, of Torrington, Wyoming
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a form of blood cancer with poor long-term survival rates. Although there are currently several targeted chemotherapy drugs used to treat AML, many patients develop resistance to these drugs and experience recurrence of their disease. Under the mentorship of Sharyn Baker, PharmD, PhD, Zavorka Thomas will study differences in cellular proteins after chemotherapy treatment in an effort to understand why certain AML patients develop recurrent disease and to identify new molecular targets for better drug therapy in AML.
To learn more about the research fellowship program, visit cancer.osu.edu. Registration for Pelotonia 2018 opens Feb. 21, 2018. Learn more at pelotonia.org.
About the OSUCCC – James
The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute strives to create a cancer-free world by integrating scientific research with excellence in education and patient-centered care, a strategy that leads to better methods of prevention, detection and treatment. Ohio State is one of 49 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers and one of only a few centers funded by the NCI to conduct both phase I and phase II clinical trials on novel anticancer drugs. As the cancer program’s 308-bed adult patient-care component, The James is one of the top cancer hospitals in the nation as ranked by U.S. News & World Report and has achieved Magnet ® designation, the highest honor an organization can receive for quality patient care and professional nursing practice. With 21 floors and more than 1.1 million square feet, The James is a transformational facility that fosters collaboration and integration of cancer research and clinical cancer care. For more information, visit cancer.osu.edu.
Amanda J. Harper
OSUCCC – James Media Relations