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​AACR-Genentech Fellowships 

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

2017 Grantees

AACR-Genentech Immuno-oncology Research Fellowship

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Melvyn T. Chow, PhD
Research Fellow
Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, Massachusetts
Overcoming resistance to PD-1 immune checkpoint blockade therapy

Scientific Statement of Research
Improving the efficacy of checkpoint blockade therapy is of paramount importance and is seemingly within reach, but will require a better understanding of the molecules that control the complex interactions of immune cells in the tumor microenvironment. Chemokines are chemotactic cytokines that orchestrate the migratory behavior and cellular interactions of leukocytes and, therefore, have great impact upon antitumor immune responses. Preliminary data showed that the CXCR3 chemokine system is required for anti-PD-1 immunotherapy. Furthermore, CXCR3 expression on CD8+ T cells inversely correlates with markers of exhaustion. Based on these exciting preliminary data, Dr. Chow hypothesizes that CXCR3 plays a functional role in the ability of exhausted T cells to become reinvigorated within the tumor following PD-1 blockade. He proposes to define the mechanisms by which CXCR3 contributes to the efficacy of PD-1 blockade therapy and determine if augmenting the CXCR3 chemokine system can improve the efficacy of anti-PD-1 therapy.

Biography
Dr. Chow completed his PhD in 2003 with Drs. Mark Smyth and Andreas Möller at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, University of Melbourne, Australia. His thesis research focused on the characterization of the role of danger signal receptors, including NLRP3 inflammasome and Toll-like receptor 3, in tumorigenesis and metastasis, in addition to defining the functions of these receptors in tumor immunity. Dr. Chow is currently a research fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, where his work focuses on understanding the role of chemokines in tumor immunity with a goal to improve cancer treatment.

Acknowledgement of Support
I am absolutely honored to be awarded the 2017 AACR-Genentech Immuno-oncology Research Fellowship for studying the resistance mechanisms of response to anti-PD-1. This award would lay the foundation for me to become an independent researcher and in the longer term, a leader in the immune-oncology field.

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AACR-Genentech Fellowship in Lung Cancer Research

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Wen-Yang Lin, PhD, MS
Postdoctoral Fellow
Stanford University
Stanford, California
Multiplexed pharmacogenomic analysis of lung cancer

Scientific Statement of Research
Dr. Wen-Yang Lin’s research is focused on generating a cost effective, quantitative, and multiplexed pharmacogenomic map connecting lung adenocarcinoma genotype to therapy response. Dr. Lin will integrate Cas9-mediated somatic gene inactivation with conventional genetically-engineered alleles to generate >10 different tumor genotypes simultaneously in individual mice. To quantify the size of each tumor and determine the size distribution of each tumor genotype, she will induce tumors with barcoded vectors and use high-throughput sequencing and statistical approaches to determine the number of cancer cells in each tumor. Dr. Lin will use this approach to determine the genotype specific effect of >15 therapies that have been either shown to have genotype-specific effects in lung adenocarcinoma models or are clinical approved therapies for other indications. This flexible system can incorporate additional tumor suppressors, allows for the investigation of genotype-specific responses to other therapies including immunotherapies, and be adapted to other cancer types.

Biography
Dr. Wen-Yang Lin is a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Monte Winslow’s laboratory at Stanford University. She is a passionate scientist and engineer focusing on identifying intrinsic and extrinsic mediators of tumor growth (good or bad). She grew up in Taiwan and earned her bachelor's degree in life science from National Taiwan University. Prior to her doctoral training, Dr. Lin earned her Master of Science degree in biomedical engineering from UCLA, specializing in three-dimensional tissue engineering. She completed her PhD thesis work in Dr. Jay Parrish’s laboratory at the University of Washington focusing on the growth control in Drosophila’s sensory neurons.

Acknowledgement of Support
I am honored to receive this 2017 AACR-Genentech Fellowship in Lung Cancer Research. This award will allow me to integrate my past experiences with the expertise of my mentor, become more involved with the AACR, and push forward my work which I hope someday will directly benefit cancer patients.

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2016 Grantee

AACR-Genentech BioOncology Fellowship for Cancer Research on the HER Family Pathway

Wong_90x110.jpgChristina Sheau Fen Wong, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Radiation Oncology
Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, Massachusetts
Improving treatment of brain metastases from HER2-positive breast cancer

Scientific Statement of Research
Treatment of cerebral metastases of HER2-positive (HER2+) breast cancer remains an unmet need. HER2-targeting agents show efficacy in HER2+ systemic disease but have limited effect in the brain microenvironment. Recent preclinical studies indicate that ErbB3 (HER3) has a central role in promoting resistance to HER2- targeted therapies. Preliminary data show that HER3 and its activating ligand neuregulin-1 (NRG1) are highly expressed in HER2+ breast cancer brain metastases. Moreover, HER3 blockade enhances the efficacy of anti-HER2 therapy in the brain, resulting in significant tumor growth delay and improved survival in mouse models. Building on these exciting preliminary findings, this project proposes to understand the mechanisms involved in HER3-mediated resistance to HER2 inhibition in the brain. The findings from this study will inform clinical trials in patients with HER2+ breast cancer brain metastases, and will meet the urgent need for effective therapies for these patients.

Biography
Dr. Wong completed her PhD​​ at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (University of Melbourne), Australia. Her postgraduate studies focused on the role  of hypoxia in breast cancer progression and metastasis. She subsequently worked on establishing spontaneous models of breast cancer metastasis to the bone and brain, and studied the efficacy of a CXCR4 antibody-linked PET tracer in detecting metastases in preclinical models of breast cancer. Intending to pursue more translational breast cancer metastasis research, she joined Dr. Rakesh Jain’s laboratory at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School to investigate novel approaches to improve treatment of breast cancer brain metastases.

Acknowledgement of Support
It is a great honor to receive the 2016 AACR-Genentech BioOncology Fellowship for Cancer Research on the HER Family Pathway. This prestigious award will fund urgently needed research to improve the outcome of patients with breast cancer brain metastases and form the cornerstone for my career in breast cancer research.

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