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​AACR Anna D. Barker Basic Cancer Research Fellowships

The AACR Anna D. Barker Fellowships in Basic Cancer Research represents a joint effort to encourage and support mentored young investigators to conduct basic cancer research and to establish successful career paths in this field. Eligibility is limited to postdoctoral and clinical research fellows who will have completed their most recent doctoral degree within the past three years. The research proposed for funding may be in any area of basic cancer research. 

2017 Grantee


Amanda Haltom, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, Texas
Elucidating the exosome “road map” in normal physiology and cancer

Scientific Statement of Research
Exosomes, physiologic membrane nanovesicles, are instrumental for cross-tissue communication. Exosomes produced by distinct cell types differ in size, cargo and surface proteins, of which tetraspanins are the most studied, with potential capacity to define exosome homing (target tissues/cells). In tumors, exosome homing is altered via changes in exosome abundance, contents and surface proteins, resulting in a pro-tumorigenic environment. To date, all functional studies use ectopic administration of exosomes from cultured cells, and may not reflect the endogenous routes of exosome subpopulations. To study endogenous exosome targeting, we generated novel mouse models with tagged tetraspanins for in vivo tracking. We hypothesize that this model has the capacity to reveal physiologic communication through exosomes, and the alterations due to cancer and chemotherapy. These studies are the first to use endogenous exosomes and expand our understanding of exosome intercellular communication in cancer progression and therapy response on the organismal level.

Dr. Haltom obtained her bachelor’s degree in three years from 2007-2010 at Texas A&M University, where she investigated bacterial endosymbionts of Drosophila melanogaster. In 2010, she joined the graduate school at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, trained in Dr. Hamed Jafar-Nejad’s lab, and received her doctoral degree for the study of post-translational modifications in Drosophila eye development. Seeking a more translational project, she secured the TRIUMPH postdoctoral fellowship from MD Anderson Cancer Center and joined Dr. Raghu Kalluri’s lab to study the role of exosomes in cancer development and progression.

Acknowledgement of Support
The AACR Basic Cancer Research Fellowship provides me with support not only financially, but professionally and personally. Receiving this fellowship further motivates me to achieve excellence in science knowing that my work and and its potential impact are appreciated by the experts in the field.

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