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​2017 Minority Scholar in Cancer Research Awards

Oluwole A. Babatunde, MBBS
Graduate Research Assistant
University of South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina

"I am a third year PhD student. My main research goal is to be an independent physician scientist in the area of cancer and health disparity with the long-term plan to help to reduce racial disparity along cancer continuum of care. My career plan is to navigate the various steps that will make me a professor and researcher and logically build upon my current extensive research experience in cancer and health disparity research."

Abstract 4216: Racial disparities in receipt of adjuvant hormonal therapy among patients diagnosed with breast cancer in South Carolina.

Byrd_90x110.jpgDoratha A. Byrd, MS
Graduate Student
Emory University Rollins School of Public Health
Atlanta, Georgia

"After completion of my doctoral program, I plan to complete a postdoctoral fellowship for further training in cancer epidemiology research methodology. My long-term career objective is to obtain a tenure-track position, develop my own projects and lead my own interdisciplinary research team focusing on understanding how modifications to the human diet can reduce cancer incidence and mortality, especially among populations that are disproportionately affected."

Abstract 3287: Associations of whole food and lifestyle-based inflammation scores with all-cause, cancer- and cardiovascular disease-specific mortality

Coggins_90x110.jpgNicole Coggins, BS
Graduate Student
University of California, Davis
Davis, California

"My current research focuses on the characterization of functional Single Nucleotide Polymorphism involved in colorectal cancer onset and progression for the development of novel biomarkers and therapeutics. After obtaining my degree, I hope to continue to contribute to the progression of personalized medicine in regulatory affairs. I believe working at the interface of research and government regulatory agencies would be one of the most rewarding career paths as a scientist whose passion lies in translational research." 

Abstract 1445: Understanding the 8q24 colorectal cancer risk locus via CRISPR/Cas9 scarless genome editing

Conage-Pough_90x110.jpgJason E. Conage-Pough, BS
Graduate Student, Emory University
Winship Cancer Institute
Atlanta, Georgia

"One of my long-term career goals is to establish my own NIH-funded research laboratory at an academic institution or other biomedical research center. My primary research interests are characterizing aberrant signaling pathways in cancer to exploit for therapy, and studying mechanisms underlying resistance to current therapies. Additionally, I plan to advocate for increased underrepresented minority presence in STEM fields, and dedicate considerable energy to the training of minority students and postdocs."

Abstract 4307: Characterizing the differential phosphorylation of Bim in plasma cell disorders

Gebremeskel_90x110.jpgSimon Gebremeskel, BS
Graduate Student
Dalhousie University
Halifax, Nova Scotia

"My goal is to pursue a career in the field of cancer immunology with a primary aim of developing novel, safe, and effective immunotherapeutic agents against all forms of aggressive tumors. Following my doctoral degree, I plan to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship in a leading cancer center and eventually obtain a tenure-track faculty position. I plan to play a key role in inspiring, mentoring, and training the next generation of cancer immunologists."

Abstract 5669: Targeting post-surgical breast cancer metastasis through combining natural killer T cell immunotherapy and low dose chemotherapy.

Hernandez_90x110.jpgLiz J. Hernandez Borrero, MS
Graduate Student
Fox Chase Cancer Center
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

"The exposures I have had in my research experiences has sparked my interest for translational research in drug discovery and safety. My overall career goal is to be at the cornerstone of science and business as an independent researcher, focusing on the discovery, development, and implementation of novel drug therapies that have the potential to go into the clinics and improve patient health care."

Abstract 5178: CB002, a novel p53 pathway-restoring compound that induces apoptosis through NOXA expression

Islam_90x110.jpgJessica Y. Islam, MPH
Graduate Student
UNC Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

"My long-term career goal is to become an independent investigator of cancer prevention and diagnostics, with research specifically aimed at addressing existing disparities in cancer outcomes, both globally and domestically. My primary research interest is identifying novel and effective methods for the detection and prevention of cancers caused by infectious agents to improve cancer care quality. For my dissertation, I will focus on HPV and cervical cancer, which disproportionately affects women living in resource-limited settings."

Abstract 5302: Projections of cancer incidence and burden among the HIV-positive population in the United States through 2030

Livingstone_90x110.jpgMerricka C. Livingstone, BS
Graduate Student
Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health
Baltimore, Maryland

"After completing my PhD, I plan to continue my research in a postdoctoral position focusing on the molecular mechanisms of cancer and chemoprevention. My ultimate goal is to become a leader in translational cancer research. I want to be a synthesizer and catalyst; using my diverse background to assemble teams to tackle public health issues, and using my story and passion to encourage the next generation of scientists of color." 

Abstract 4448: Elevated levels of circulating miR-34a-5p and miR-181c-3p during cancer initiation by aflatoxin B1

McGarity_90x110.jpgDeAnna L. McGarity, MD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Cancer Research Fellow/Patient Navigator
Morehouse School of Medicine
Atlanta, Georgia

"In preparation for my career as a practicing physician, I am learning the foundation of clinical research trials and community based research implementation at Morehouse School of Medicine. Receiving the AACR Minority Scholar in Cancer Research Award gives me the opportunity to attend the 2017 AACR Conference. As a result, this experience will improve both my medical and research knowledge, to assist me in providing evidence-based patient care."

Abstract 768: The Utility of a Breast Cancer Registry for Improved Cancer Management in Developing Countries

Olivos-90x110.jpgDavid J. Olivos, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
Indiana University School of Medicine
Indianapolis, Indiana

"My career goal is to become an independent investigator and advance the translation of research efforts in the discovery of novel therapeutics targeting stem and tumor initiating cells of breast cancer. I am interested in understanding the role of Mdm2 as it pertains to the initiation, progression, and recurrence of neoplastic events. As I advance in my professional career, I remain committed to working with young academics and inspiring their interests in biomedical research." 

Abstract 2552: MDM2 Induces cell fusion in breast cancer and osteosarcoma

Onyeagucha_90x110.jpgBenjamin C. Onyeagucha, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Texas Health Science Center
San Antonio, Texas

"My long-term career goal is to become an established independent investigator and a leader in the field of breast cancer. My research objective is to identify and develop novel small molecules that are efficacious and less toxic for treatment of breast cancer patients through targeted therapy. In addition to my research, I am strongly committed to the training of future generations of cancer biologists using my expertise in cancer research."

Abstract 2336: Novel Regulatory Mechanisms for Bcl2-related Ovarian Killer (BOK) Expression in Breast Cancer

Ortiz_90x110.jpgMyrna L. Ortiz, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
Moffitt Cancer Center
Tampa, Florida

"Earning a PhD in the cancer field is one of my most gratifying experiences. My immediate goal is to continue to develop new or complement immunotherapies for cancer patients, specifically for kids who have to experience this awful disease. Additionally, I want to improve my scientific writing, disserting review papers, and the opportunity to create collaborations with other scientists. My further goals include teaching and encourage the upcoming scientist to take this significant path."

Abstract 689: Immune Checkpoint targeting to improve Immunotherapy for Neuroblastoma

Marigdalia K. Ramirez-Fort, MD
SUNY Downstate Medical Center
Brooklyn, New York

"As a physician-scientist, and future radiation oncologist, my primary focus for the last three years has been the development of J591, monoclonal antibody to Folate Hydrolase-1, an internalizing transmembrane receptor specifically expressed by solid tumor neo-cells. Radiolabeled J591, allows for systemically targeted radiotherapy of disseminated neo-cells. I am dedicated to the development and clinical utility of J591 with external beam radiotherapy, to aid my clinical efforts to deliver the highest quality of patient care."

Abstract 1905: Possible cancer stem cells: Folate hydrolase-1 is expressed in a subset of Oct4-positive melanoma cells

Renrick_90x110.jpgAriana N. Renrick, BS
Graduate Student
Meharry Medical College
Nashville, Tennessee

"I am currently working toward publishing my first author manuscript based off my thesis work, which involves improving CD8+ T lymphocyte antitumor effector function through the regulation of notch signaling. In addition, this year I have plans of becoming a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Scholar. Upon graduation, I would love to take on a postdoc position at a research hospital like St. Jude or become a postdoc in the health policy field."

Abstract 647: Bortezomib enhances CD8+ T lymphocyte antitumor effector function: Potential mechanism(s) via notch regulation

Rey-90x110.jpgSergio Rey, MD
Postdoctoral Fellow
Princess Margaret Cancer Centre
Toronto, Ontario

"Hypoxia (low oxygen) is a critical pathobiological determinant of therapeutic response and prognosis in cancer patients. In line with my clinical and fundamental science training, I aim to establish an academic research program with a strong foothold in hypoxic precision oncology. Supporting minority scholars is a central tenet of said program and an ideal path to reciprocate the confidence and effort that my mentors have invested in me throughout my academic and clinical career."

Abstract 4510: ADP- dependent glucokinase controls hypoxic gradients, ex vivo avascular and in vivo tumor growth through modulation of HIF-1&#945;/mTOR signaling

Reyes_90x110.jpgMonica E. Reyes, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, Texas

"My educational and research training goals are to develop skills to become an independent cancer researcher and acquire my own grant funds. As a strong advocate for minorities in cancer research, I plan to continue my involvement with organizations that support the promotion of women and minorities in cancer research. I also plan to help identify genetic predictors for late effects in cancer patients and survivors to help improve outcome and quality of life."

Abstract 4086: RNAseq hiPSC-cardiomyocytes reveals altered expression of DNA damage and cell cycle genes in response to doxorubicin

Romero_Aburto_90x110.jpgRebeca Romero Aburto, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, Texas

"Nanotechnology for cancer management is a field with game-changing potential, particularly with respects to early and residual cancer detection. My research goals include the development of high quality nanomaterials and associated bio-conjugation techniques to effectively detect cancer cells. The current clinical imaging capabilities are unable to resolve masses smaller than 1cm3, thus preventing early and residual cancer detection. My objective is to contribute to the translation of nano-diagnostic approaches that can positively impact patient outcomes."

Abstract 2213: Magnetic relaxometry detection of stealth, antibody-targeted micellar iron oxide nanoparticles in-vivo

Totten_90x110.jpgSarah Michelle Totten, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
Canary Center for Cancer Early Detection
Palo Alto, California

"My goal is to pursue a career in academic research as an independent investigator in the field of bioanalytical chemistry. I am interested in developing analytical tools for investigating biological processes at the molecular level. My research objective includes using advanced analytical instrumentation, such as mass spectrometry, to measure alterations in protein levels and glycosylation expression in biological samples in relation to the development, progression, and treatment of prostate cancer."

Abstract 2213: Aberrant glycoprotein expression in recurrent and non-recurrent prostate cancer tissue

Zeballos_90x110.jpgCarla R. Zebalallos, MD
Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
San Antonio, Texas

"I am a general surgery resident, obtaining a PhD in cancer biology. My professional goals are to become a surgical oncologist and an independent investigator at an academic institution, to provide care to underserved communities, find novel ways to treat cancer, diminish cancer related disparities, and ultimately to improve the quality of life of cancer patients. With these skills, I aspire to mentor and teach residents, fellows, and graduate students, especially underrepresented minority trainees. "

Abstract 5425: The Role of Six Transmembrane Epithelial Antigen of the Prostate 2 in Hepatocellular Carcinoma