​AACR Gertrude B. Elion Cancer Research Award

The AACR Gertrude B. Elion Cancer Research Award represents a joint effort to encourage and support tenure-eligible junior faculty. The research proposed for funding must focus on research in cancer etiology, diagnosis, treatment, or prevention and may be basic, translational, or clinical in nature.

2017 Grantee


Dong-Joo (Ellen) Cheon, PhD
Assistant Professor
Albany Medical College
Albany, New York
Blocking fatty acid β-oxidation to sensitize cancer cells to cisplatin

Scientific Statement of Research
Cisplatin is the frontline treatment for ovarian cancer yet the majority of patients quickly develop resistance to cisplatin. Thus it is crucial to develop novel therapeutic strategies to inhibit cisplatin resistance. Dr. Cheon’s group previously discovered that collagen type XI alpha1 (COL11A1) is a novel biomarker strongly associated with cisplatin resistance in ovarian cancer. In this study, Dr. Cheon’s group will address their hypothesis that COL11A1 increases mitochondrial fatty acid beta oxidation (FAO) through α1β1 integrin, thereby protecting cancer cells from cisplatin-induced apoptosis. They will use genetic and pharmaceutical approaches to block COL11A1, FAO, and α1β1 integrin, and then measure tumor cells’ response to cisplatin in vitro and in vivo. Since ovarian cancer cells frequently disseminate to the fat-rich omentum and use the fat for growth and survival, results from this study would yield blocking FAO as a novel therapeutic strategy to inhibit cisplatin resistance.

Dong-Joo (Ellen) Cheon, Ph.D., has been an assistant professor in the Department of Regenerative and Cancer Cell Biology at Albany Medical College (Albany, NY) since 2015. Dr. Cheon earned her B.A. and M.S. from Seoul National University (Seoul, Korea) and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (Houston, TX) under the mentorship of Dr. Richard Behringer. Dr. Cheon received her postdoctoral training with Dr. Sandra Orsulic at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (Los Angeles, CA). Dr. Cheon’s research focuses on the development of novel therapeutic strategies that block tumor-stroma interaction and inhibit ovarian cancer dissemination and chemotherapy resistance.

Acknowledgement of Support
It is my great honor to accept the 2017 AACR Gertrude B. Elion Cancer Research Award. This award will help continue my vital research on a currently incurable cancer and allow me to achieve my goals of developing novel therapies and becoming a future leader in cancer research.

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