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QuadW Foundation-AACR Fellowship for Clinical/Translational Sarcoma Research

The QuadW Foundation‐AACR Fellowship for Clinical/Translational Sarcoma Research represents a joint effort to encourage and support a postdoctoral or clinical research fellow to work on mentored sarcoma research and to establish a successful career path in this field. Eligibility is limited to postdoctoral and clinical research fellows within the first five years of their fellowship. The research proposed for funding may be translational or clinical in nature and must have direct applicability and relevance to sarcoma research. 

2017 Grantee

Wagner_90x110.jpg

Michael J. Wagner, MD
Oncology Fellow
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, Texas
Overcoming primary resistance to VEGF/VEGFR targeted agents in angiosarcoma

Scientific Statement of Research
Malignancies arising from endothelial cells such as angiosarcomas are rare; however, the tumors that do arise tend to be highly aggressive and difficult to treat. While high grade endothelial malignancies respond well to traditional chemotherapy, their durability is poor and the tumors acquire drug resistance rapidly. Targeted therapies such as anti-angiogenic agents that would be intuitive for these malignancies have had limited success in the clinic. One reason for the limited therapeutic activity of targeted drugs in angiosarcoma is the presence of oncogenic mutations. Dr. Wagner is investigating the role of somatic mutations in PLCG1 and PTPRB in angiosarcoma. He will test the hypothesis that these mutations lead to activation of the MAPK pathway, and that treatment aimed at MEK and VEGFR2 targets both angiosarcoma cells and host endothelial cells in the tumor microenvironment to inhibit tumor growth. These data will represent the first investigation of the potential for tailoring treatment decisions based on somatic mutations in angiosarcoma.

Biography
Dr. Michael Wagner is a medical oncology fellow at MD Anderson Cancer Center. He received his MD from Harvard Medical School in Boston and completed an internal medicine residency at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. He is conducting translational research aimed at improving outcomes for patients with sarcoma, with a focus on understanding the molecular drivers of angiosarcoma.

Acknowledgement of Support
The QuadW Foundation-AACR Fellowship will further my goal to pursue hypothesis-driven research with direct implications for patient care. Leading an in-depth translational research project such as the project funded by this grant will strengthen my ability to design ground breaking experiments and to conduct meaningful translational research as I begin my career as a sarcoma clinician and researcher.

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2016 Grantee

Przybyl_90x110.jpgJoanna Przybyl, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Pathology
Stanford University
Stanford, California
Monitoring treatment response in leiomyosarcoma using circulating tumor DNA

Scientific Statement of Research
Circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) has significant potential for diverse clinical applications, including assessment of treatment response and monitoring of recurrent/residual disease. Leiomyosarcoma (LMS) is a good candidate for ctDNA studies because genomic instability is a hallmark feature of this sarcoma.

Two next generation sequencing-based approaches will be used to study genomic aberrations in ctDNA and matching tumors of LMS patients: Cancer Personalized Profiling by deep Sequencing (CAPP-Seq) for a highly sensitive quantitative analysis of SNVs and indels, and genome representation profiling for the assessment of genome-wide copy number alterations. This study will evaluate the sensitivity and the extent of genomic abnormalities identified by both methods, and correlate these findings with the clinical follow-up.

The ultimate goal of this project is to evaluate the clinical utility of serial ctDNA monitoring for improved staging of LMS, more accurate planning of post-operative treatment and long-term follow-up of LMS survivors.

Biography
Joanna Przybyl received a joint PhD degree in molecular oncology from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium and Maria Sklodowska-Curie Memorial Cancer Center – Institute of Oncology in Warsaw, Poland. During her doctoral studies she identified novel prognostic factors in synovial sarcoma and characterized novel variants of translocations in synovial sarcoma and endometrial stromal sarcoma. Currently she works as a postdoctoral research fellow in Dr. Matt van de Rijn laboratory at Stanford University. Her research is focused on the development of novel diagnostic and prognostic markers and potential therapeutic targets in sarcomas using next generation sequencing and microarray technology.

Acknowledgement of Support
The 2016 QuadW Foundation-AACR Fellowship for Clinical/Translational Sarcoma Research provides a significant recognition and support for my studies on the clinical applications of circulating tumor DNA in sarcoma patients. This fellowship will help me establish a successful career in sarcoma research.

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