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FINDING CURES TOGETHER<sup>SM</sup>

​AACR-Bayer Fellowships 

The AACR-Bayer Fellowships represent a joint effort to promote hepatocellular or prostate cancer research. These grants encourage and support mentored young investigators to conduct cancer research and to establish successful career paths in the field. Eligibility is limited to postdoctoral and clinical research fellows who have completed their most recent doctoral degree within the past five years. The research proposed for funding may be basic, translational, clinical, or epidemiological in nature.

2017 Grantees

AACR-Bayer Hepatocellular Carcinoma Research Fellowship

Bhan_90x110.jpgIrun Bhan, MD
Clinical and Research Fellow, Gastroenterology
Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, Massachusetts
Transcriptomics of hepatocellular carcinoma in diagnosis and immunotherapy

Scientific Statement of Research
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), which arises in the setting of chronic liver disease, is the second most common cause of cancer-related death worldwide. As HCC occurs in an at-risk population and early-stage disease can be cured, surveillance can reduce mortality through early detection. For late-stage disease, immunotherapy holds great promise for an as-yet undefined subgroup of patients. For both early detection and immunotherapy response prediction, novel biomarkers are urgently needed. Promising biomarkers include those derived from circulating tumor cells and cancer exosomes, both of which are shed by tumors into the vasculature where they can be detected by “liquid biopsy.” This work will develop novel RNA-based biomarkers from primary HCC tissue and liquid biopsies that will enable early detection, monitoring, risk stratification, and treatment selection for patients with HCC.

Biography
Dr. Irun Bhan is a clinical and research fellow in gastroenterology/hepatology at Massachusetts General Hospital. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University where he studied biophysics. He earned his MD degree from the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program at Harvard Medical School, graduating magna cum laude and serving as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute fellow. He subsequently completed internal medicine residency and chief residency at Columbia University.  Working in the laboratories of Dr. Daniel Haber and Dr. David Ting, Dr. Bhan’s current research interests include the early detection and treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma in chronic liver disease patients.

Acknowledgement of Support
I am immensely thankful for the 2017 AACR Gertrude B. Elion Cancer Research Award which will allow me to pursue a career in innovative cancer research. My hope is that the funded project will have a major impact for patients suffering from chronic liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma.

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AACR-Bayer Prostate Cancer Research Fellowship

Conn_90x110.jpgCrystal S. Conn, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
University of California, San Francisco
San Francisco, California
                     Deciphering and targeting translational adaptations in prostate cancer

Scientific Statement of Research
Recent insights into the genetic landscape of cancer have depicted an explosion of diagnostic and clinical biomarkers using gene expression profiling. However, not all changes at the transcription level translate into proteomic expression; limiting the predictive power of mRNA based prognostic biomarkers. Genetic alterations creating oncogenic lesions also remain difficult to target pharmacologically. Despite these limitations, there arise phenotypic ‘crutches’ that cancer cells rely on for their unlimited growth and adaptation for survival. Dr. Conn’s research, proposes to uncover and mechanistically determine adaptive signaling advantages that are translationally activated to rewire the proteome in cancer cells. Her results in the Ruggero Lab at UCSF will be vital in delineating the role of adaptive responses during cancer progression, identifying relevant biomarkers, and offering an innovative line of therapies targeting select vulnerabilities for advanced prostate cancer associated with decreased patient survival.

Biography
Dr. Crystal Conn received her B.S. in Biochemical Molecular Biology from Penn State University and completed her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Genetics in 2013 from Cornell University. She joined Dr. Davide Ruggero's lab at UCSF in Fall 2013 to pursue the study of mRNA translational regulation, and the molecular mechanisms behind the oncogenic stress response in cancer. As a postdoctoral fellow, she is currently testing the therapeutic implications of targeting translation initiation in combination with oncogenic stress response pathways using novel genetic mouse models and pharmacological agents.

Acknowledgement of Support
I am extremely humbled and thankful for the generous support provided by the AACR-Bayer Prostate Cancer Research Fellowship, not only for the development in my own research progress within the Ruggero Lab at UCSF, but also at such a pivotal moment for science funding. My sincerest gratitude.

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