Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Sudbury, Canada
My research interest is to further understand the mechanisms by which tumors acquire drug-resistance thereby impeding effective cancer treatment. I completed my Ph.D. in 2010 during which I examined the temporal relationship between epigenetic changes within the ABCB1 promoter and the acquisition of drug resistance in breast tumor cells. More recently, I was involved in investigating the association of single nucleotide polymorphisms within DNA repair genes and breast cancer risk.
I joined the AACR as an associate member in 2008 following attending my first AACR Annual Meeting. I was impressed by the sheer magnitude and relevance of the meeting. Attending the meeting was integral to the advancement of my studies by furthering my knowledge by attending lectures from leading and upcoming scientists in the field, providing the opportunity to share my work and inspiration to take my research in new directions. I gained important networking experiences as well that led to fruitful scientific collaborations. This positive experience early in my research career inspired me to seek a heightened level of involvement with AACR through the Associate Member Council. My goal is to participate in the development and implementation of programs so that other researchers early in their careers may benefit from the AACR and AMC as I did and continue to do. As a Canadian postdoctoral fellow with a passion for cancer research, I feel I contribute a unique international perspective that is of value to my associate member peers. I am deeply honored to represent the interests of my fellow associate members on the AMC.
Janssen Research & Development, LLC, Spring House, PA
I have always been attracted to the life sciences. However, when my grandmother was diagnosed with a fatal lung cancer, I naively promised her that I would cure cancer for her. This experience prompted me to perform breast cancer metastasis research from the moment I stepped foot on campus at Pennsylvania State University as a first-year student. The first time I presented my work was at an AACR annual meeting as an undergraduate student, and I was inspired to continue my research after receiving my B.S. in biochemistry and molecular biology. I sought a Ph.D. in immunology at the University of Pennsylvania, where I performed leukemia research. Afterward, I have successfully combined my interests in immunology and oncology at Washington University in St. Louis where I studied the role of type I interferons and dendritic cells in the recognition and elimination of sarcoma. Currently, I am a Scientist at Janssen Research & Development, L.L.C., where I perform antibody drug discovery. What began as a naïve promise has turned into a life’s work.
I understand and have experienced the many challenges that associate member face. I want to help others successfully navigate this early stage of our career by providing knowledge and opportunities. For instance, I am a founding member of a non-profit organization that provides low-cost advising solutions to local biotechnology companies in St. Louis while providing graduate student and postdoctoral researchers professional development opportunities as consultants. I am enthusiastic that as a member of the AACR associate membership council, I can further aid in the careers of other early-career scientists on an influentially larger scale.
Assistant Research Professor, Division of Cancer Etiology
City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, Duarte, CA
In 2010, I completed my Ph.D. in epidemiology at UT School of Public Health and my predoctoral fellowship at MD Anderson Cancer Center. My research focus is in molecular cancer epidemiology. I believe it is through the interdisciplinary identification of individual genetic and epidemiologic risk factors, and the analysis of their combined effect that we will continue to move towards personalized cancer risk prediction and subsequent individualized medicine. Currently, I am designing both observational and experimental studies to investigate the biological mechanisms of physical activity and cancer in humans. I am involved in the California Teachers Study and the Health of Women (HOW) study, and I continue to collaborate on research pursued during my clinical genetics postdoctoral fellowship where I focused on developing individualized prediction models for breast and ovarian cancer, particularly among women at high risk of cancer and those in underserved populations.
As an early-career scientist who has navigated her way through multi-institutional educational and training programs, I have developed a deep understanding of the importance of successful mentorship and collaboration. An early career in science may either be fostered or hindered by these experiences and opportunities and I believe communication and training are vital for success. I joined the AACR associate membership in 2005 and the Associate Member Council in 2010 in order to contribute my own experiences and ideas to help the council accomplish its goals, and to use my passion for mentorship to advocate for fellow associate members. Furthermore, I view serving on the council as an excellent opportunity to be a part of exciting issues in science and policy, both locally and globally.
Ph.D. Candidate, Center for Translational Science Activites
College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
My research interests lie in clinical and translational cancer research and health disparities. My thesis work focuses on investigating disparities present in multiple myeloma, in particular the two-fold increased risk of disease among individuals of African and African-American descent. Of particular interest to me is whether cytogenetic subtypes of multiple myeloma differ in African and African-American versus Caucasian populations and whether these differential distributions of subtypes help to explain differences in clinical presentation and response to immunomodulatory-based therapies. To answer these questions, I am employing a multidisciplinary approach, integrating epidemiological, clinical and laboratory methods. The results from these questions could ultimately translate to tailored therapies by cytogenetic subtypes for high-risk populations.
I have found that the Associate Member Council-sponsored workshops I have attended since joining AACR as an associate member in 2010 have helped me to determine the direction of my research interests and career direction. My experiences, including laboratory, clinic and population-based investigations, coupled with my administrative service as a graduate student representative on several committees, has led me to want to work with and for other students who are also navigating early-stage training and careers in this ever changing field of cancer research. As a member of the Associate Member Council, I am honored to serve my colleagues by helping to conceive of and design programs that benefit my peers in their professional development as cancer researchers during this time of change.
Research Associate, IQUIBICEN-CONICET, Department of Biological Chemistry
School of Sciences, University of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina
My main research interest is the involvement of inflammatory processes in prostate cancer (PCa) progression. PCa is one of the most frequent cancers in men. The strong correlation between inflammation and cancer shows the relevance of the neoplasm stroma in tumor growth, invasion, metastasis and neovascularization.
My current research focuses on finding proteome-based biomarkers in prostate cancer, using mass spectrometry, proteomics and a bioinformatics based approach. The overall goal of this research is to identify predictive prostate cancer disease biomarkers. Also, I’m co-founder of Wikilife.org, a global non-profit collaborative project that collects and distributes health and lifestyle data in an open and anonymous way.
The AACR has played a key role in my scientific career enabling me to get in touch through its scientific programs with "state of the art" research in cancer, and most important of all, to pursue collaborations and network with fellow members. The AMC works hard to provide early-career scientists with valuable tools to further develop and broaden their career path.
Assistant Professor, Department of Urology
Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto, Japan
I graduated from medical school at Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan, in 1998 and had clinical training as a urologist. While I became a board-certified urologist and carried out some clinical studies on urological diseases, my interest in molecular mechanisms of urogenital cancers grew, which led me to a Ph.D. research program at Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, where I studied molecular mechanisms for castration-resistant progression of prostate cancer. Since most of my laboratory work in my Ph.D. training was based on experiments in culture and clinical samples, I strongly felt a need for experience in experimental systems in vivo using animal models. This prompted me to start my postdoctoral training in Dr. Abate-Shen’s laboratory at Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbia University, New York, NY. In my current project, I use genetically engineered mouse models of invasive bladder cancer to investigate mechanisms for development and progression of the disease. My goal is to understand pathogenesis of urogenital malignancies through a comprehensive approach and to eventually contribute to the improvement in the management of disease and patient care through bridging basic, translational and clinical research for the disease.
Research Fellow, Nutritional Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics
National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD
My current research focuses on three aspects of upper gastrointestinal cancer epidemiology: micronutrient and dietary risk factors, immunity genes and immune function, and molecular biomarkers for early detection. For the last four years, I have conducted this research in the Nutritional Epidemiology Branch of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics at the National Cancer Institute. Before coming to the NCI, I earned an M.P.H. at the Harvard School of Public Health concentrating in epidemiologic and biostatistical methods for public health and clinical research. During that training, I investigated nutritional factors in the development of TMPRSS2:ERG prostate cancers in the Physicians Health Study and also analyzed and interpreted birth defects surveillance data at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Prior to transitioning to the field of molecular epidemiology and cancer research, I earned my Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine concentrating in gene therapy and vaccines. My dissertation research focused on vaccine prime-boost strategies using adenovirus and adeno-associated virus vectors to induce CD8+ T cell responses against HIV-1.
Having trained as a basic bench scientist in immunology during graduate school and as a population scientist in cancer epidemiology during my current postdoc, I bridge some of the disciplines represented by the AACR Associate Members. I serve on the Associate Member Council not only to better understand and contribute to the AACR mission but also to advise on issues related to early-career investigators. The training and professional development of early-career investigators are more important now than ever before, and I am honored to serve the cancer research community on a national level to help address and promote the growing needs of my peer associate members.
Graduate Student, Department of Molecular and Cellular Pathology
University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
As a graduate student, in the laboratory of Dr. Donald Buchsbaum and a Howard Hughes med-to-grad fellow, my research is centered in translational breast cancer research using a novel monoclonal anti-DR5 antibody, TRA-8. This antibody functions by binding to TRAIL death receptor 5 (DR5) to induce cell death through the extrinsic apoptotic pathway. My research, funded by the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program and the NIH SPORE in Breast Cancer, specifically focuses on the investigation of TRA-8 as targeted therapy to basal-like breast cancer stem cells, alone or in combination with chemotherapy and inhibitors of the WNT pathway.
As an associate member at the early-stages of my career in cancer research, I represent the interests of graduate students transitioning into postdoctoral fellows. While an active participant of the events organized by the AMC, I found them extremely valuable for a young scientist to stay competitive and learn about the resources available to them. Joining the AMC is an important step in my professional journey and I am also honored to work with outstanding investigators, faculty and staff that comprise AACR.
Graduate Student, Medical Biophysics
University of Toronto and The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
My research interests encompass the use of genetics to understand the life story of cancer. From tumor development to patient prognosis, genetics plays a key role in tumor heterogeneity, progression and response to treatment, among other issues we currently face in managing this prevalent disease. My passion is to harness a tumor’s unique genetic information to guide diagnosis, personalize therapeutic approaches, and predict patient response, and thus improve not only patient survival, but also patient quality of life.
As part of my doctoral studies at the University of Toronto and the Hospital for Sick Children, I investigate the genomic alterations driving the development of a rare but deadly brain tumor most commonly affecting young children, choroid plexus carcinoma (CPC). Thanks to a multi-institutional effort, our group has been able to collect one of the largest cohorts of CPCs in the world. This has facilitated the study of these tumors using an integrative high-throughput approach, which has led to the identification of recurrent mutations, chromosomal aberrations and changes in gene expression that will guide the development of targeted therapies, the identification of better diagnostic and predictive markers, and the understanding of mechanisms driving CPC tumorigenesis.
I became an AACR associate member in 2011 when I first attended the annual meeting. I was honored with the AACR Minorities in Cancer Research Scholar Award in 2011 and 2012, which opened my eyes to great opportunities available for early-career scientists at the AACR. Since attending the annual meetings, I have gained such valuable knowledge and perspective by interacting with fellow scientists, learning from the innumerable oral and poster presentations, and meeting leading researchers and mentors. As part of the AMC, I look forward to represent associate members and work diligently to enrich their professional development.
Medical Student (MSTP)
The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Cancer has always fascinated me. The process that a normal cell transforms into an uncontrolled cancer is enigmatic. In particular, I am intrigued by how viruses are capable of infecting and transforming a normal cell into cancer. My current primary research interest deals with better understanding how cytomegalovirus (CMV) interacts with cancer. Traditionally, CMV is not considered to be an oncogenic virus, but recent work has suggested a potential oncomodulatory role for the virus in a multitude of cancer types. I study the interaction of the virus with glioblastoma multiforme, a lethal brain cancer, and rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of cancer originating from muscle. Using an animal model of glioblastoma I have shown that infection with CMV results in a more aggressive cancer that kills that animal faster. My research demonstrates that CMV is capable of activating several key cancer pathways that promote development and growth of glioblastoma. I am currently investigating ways to target CMV in brain cancer as a potential therapeutic as well as discovering novel pathways activated by CMV in brain cancer. My work with brain cancer led to a serendipitous discovery of how CMV promotes rhabdomyosarcoma. I discovered that p53+/- mice infected at birth, but not at a later age, with CMV developed rhabdomyosarcomas at a high rate at a young age. Investigation of human tumors showed that 100 percent contain CMV suggesting that the virus has a role in the tumors. I am currently studying how CMV interacts with p53. Additionally, I am determining if CMV is capable of transforming normal muscle cells.
As a trainee, I am acutely aware of the challenges and struggles that my peers face. It is challenging in the current scientific environment to transition from early career scientist to the next level. I have been fortunate to have many invaluable mentors and a strong support network to help me succeed in my scientific endeavors. I wish to pass on the support and insight that I have been fortunate to have received to other early career scientists. In other capacities, I have been an advocate for young scientists, both at my university and nationally, throughout my young career. I am excited to put my unique experiences and skills to work for the AACR Associate Member Council in order to foster an environment to nurture the development of all early career scientists. I have always been impressed with how the AACR focuses on developing scientists and am excited to be a part of the tradition. It is with pleasure and honor that I serve on the Associate Member Council to ensure that the next generation of scientists have the resources to succeed in cancer research.
Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Pathology
University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
I am a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Alabama at Birmingham working in the laboratory of Ralph Sanderson. Our primary goal is to understand what promotes the aggressive behavior of myeloma and to use this knowledge to develop better therapies. My project is focused on the role of syndecan-1, a heparan sulfate proteolgycan, which can be shed from the cell surface of myeloma cells. This tumor-derived shed syndecan-1 can bind and interact with other tumor cells or host cells to promote an aggressive tumor phenotype. I aim to determine how shed syndecan-1 alters cells and whether this will provide new therapeutic targets to block myeloma progression.
As a graduate student in the early stages of my career, I understand the difficulties we face as we navigate through all of the career and research paths. This can provide both excitement and anxiety. The programs designed by the AMC provide associate members in all stages of their careers the tools to be successful. Previous programs developed by the AMC have provided me real-world skills and allowed me to discover my own interests as a cancer researcher. As a council member, I hope to provide the same experience to other associate members.
The dire funding situation has also helped me realize that researchers can serve as great science advocates. I hope to design additional programs aimed at helping researchers develop effective communication skills to engage the public and elected officials with the exciting research being performed with government funds.
Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Medical Oncology
Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
I believe resistance to therapy is a major obstacle to effective anticancer treatment and my research focuses on ways to circumvent this. I recently completed my Ph.D. project on the role of microRNAs in the regulation of the DNA damage response, cancer development and therapy resistance. In my current position, I aim to investigate the role of host responses to chemotherapy.
Early-career scientists face many challenges beyond doing research, such as writing papers, obtaining funding, teaching and managing a research group. Most of these skills you don’t learn at university. I believe the Associate Member Council can make a difference for young cancer researchers all over the world in providing training and enhancing career opportunities.
During my studies I have served in several Ph.D. student representative bodies, and participated in the organization of career events. I am eager to use my experience to help the AMC to accomplish its important mission.
Postdoctoral Fellow, Molecular Pharmacology and Cancer Therapeutics
Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY
I am currently an assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY. Focusing on genitourinary malignancies, my research merges basic, translational, clinical and population science with the overall goal of improving bladder and prostate cancer patient care. My group’s goal is to decipher the genetic landscape of invasive bladder cancer in order to enhance biological knowledge of the malignancy, and to point to novel strategies for improved patient care. In my current position, I also focus on cancer health disparities in prostate cancer. Specifically, I am interested in the role of DNA methylation and vitamin D deficiency in aggressiveness of prostate cancer among African-American men.
In 2009, I completed my Ph.D. in molecular pharmacology at SUNY Buffalo. My dissertation focused on the epigenetics of ovarian cancer. Following the completion of my PhD I served as a Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Graduate Fellow on the National Cancer Policy Forum of the Institute of Medicine at National Academies of Sciences in Washington, D.C. During my fellowship, I contributed to the studies Qualification of Biomarkers and Surrogate Endpoints in Chronic Disease and Cancer Clinical Trials and the NCI Cooperative Groups. The exposure to science and health policy at the Institute of Medicine made me aware of the importance of science policy and advocacy in the funding of cancer research.