The AACR-Amgen Inc. Fellowships in Clinical/Translational Cancer Research are open to postdoctoral and clinical research fellows working at an academic, medical or research institution who will be in the first five years of their postdoctoral training at the start of the grant term. Proposed research projects may be in any area of clinical and/or translational cancer research.
Ami S. Bhatt, M.D., Ph.D.
Medical Oncology Fellow, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
Pathogen Discovery in Urothelial Cancer Using Next-Generation Sequencing
“Urothelial carcinoma is the fourth leading cause of new cancers in men in the United States, and accounts for 13,000 deaths per year. Five-year survival for patients with muscle invasive disease is below 50 percent. Both genetic mutations and epigenetic events are important in urothelial cancer pathogenesis and prognosis, and environmental triggers such as Schistosoma infection and tobacco have been identified. The role of viral infection in the pathogenesis of urothelial cancer has been investigated and remains a hotly contested issue. In order to investigate a potential microbial cause of urothelial cancer, I propose undertaking a “deep sequencing” approach where all RNA will be sequenced from pathologic specimens to identify disease-associated microbial nucleic acid sequences. Our hope is that discovery of a novel pathogen that triggers urothelial cancer will dramatically alter clinical management by enabling development of screening methods and protocols, targeted antimicrobial therapy and vaccines.
"I am deeply honored to receive the AACR-Amgen Inc. Fellowship in Clinical/Translational Cancer Research, which will provide valuable support for this project. In addition, I am indebted to the scientific support of Dr. Matthew Meyerson (my research advisor), Dr. Jonathan Rosenberg (my main clinical collaborator) and the amazing research team with whomI work at the Broad Institute.”
Sarah E. Bohndiek, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA
Molecular imaging and Diagnostics for Improved Ovarian Cancer Management
“The trend towards personalized medicine means cancer patients are increasingly given therapies designed to target specific aberrant biological processes in their tumors. Changes in tumor size remain the gold standard for assessing treatment response, but these may take a long time to manifest with targeted therapy. This leads to many patients receiving therapies they do not benefit from, or being removed from therapies that are in fact working. Furthermore, size changes do not reveal any information about the heterogeneity in tumor response. As a result, there is an urgent clinical need to develop biomarkers that can sensitively detect response and resistance of cancer to such therapies.
"We hypothesize that serum diagnostics, to monitor cancer-specific biomarker panels in a low-cost blood test, confirmed by molecular imaging, to non-invasively visualize biochemical processes in tumors, will yield an effective approach for monitoring response to targeted therapies. The objective of our work is to quantitatively assess the power of molecular imaging using photoacoustic ultrasound, a novel modality poised for clinical translation, compared with high sensitivity serum diagnostics to detect early treatment response in a mouse model of ovarian cancer. More sensitive molecular approaches to response monitoring may lead to targeted therapies being more widely used to treat ovarian cancer. Clinical translation of these technologies may, therefore, have widespread impact on cancer management.
"I am extremely grateful to the AACR for providing me with the AACR-Amgen Inc. Fellowship in Clinical/Translational Cancer Research to pursue these studies. I am excited to embark on this fellowship, which will not only provide significant support to my research, but will also allow me to further develop the skills needed to establish an independent laboratory in molecular imaging of cancer. I wish to thank my previous mentor, Dr. Kevin M. Brindle, and my current mentor, Dr. Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, for all their support and guidance.”
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