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​AACR-Genentech Cancer Research Fellowships 

The AACR-Genentech Cancer Research Fellowships represent a joint effort to encourage and support mentored young investigators to conduct cancer research and to establish successful career paths in this field. Eligibility is limited to postdoctoral and clinical research fellows who have completed their most recent doctoral degree within the past five years. Proposed research projects may be basic, clinical, translational, or epidemiological in nature.

2018 Grantee

AACR-Genentech Immuno-Oncology Research Fellowship

Hyungseok Seo, PhDHyungseok Seo, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology
La Jolla, California
headshot_1 line spacerAnalysis of epigenetic reprogramming in tumor-infiltrating immune cells

Scientific Statement of Research
In the tumor microenvironment, both innate and adaptive immune cells exert their effector functions to cause tumor regression, or alternatively become exhausted/anergic and lose effector function. Although the molecular basis for the phenotypic, functional specialization and epigenetic reprogramming of tumor infiltrating exhausted CD8 T-cell has been well addressed, that of exhausted innate cells have not been fully addressed yet. CD8 T-cell can directly eradicate only tumor antigen-expressing tumor cells, but cannot reject tumors which have lost tumor antigens, which can be eradicated by innate cells. Additionally, TET2 is a key epigenetic regulator, but the role of TET2 in the epigenetic regulation of exhausted CD8 T-cell, NK-cell and macrophage is unknown. Considering the importance of immune cells in the tumor immunesurveillance, there is an urgent need to clarify whether epigenetic reprogramming also regulates exhausted innate cells within tumors and TET2 protein regulates epigenetic reprogramming of immune cells.
 
Biography
Dr. Seo received a B.S. degree in Animal Biotechnology from Seoul National University (Seoul, Korea) in August, 2012, after which Dr. Seo started his graduate study in immunology at Seoul National University under the guidance of Dr. Kang and received his PhD degree in August, 2017. His postdoctoral research focus on elucidating the mechanisms underlying immune cell exhaustion by epigenetic reprogramming under the guidance of Dr. Anjana Rao. He expects that his studies will provide new insight into the transcriptional and epigenetic regulation of tumor-infiltrating immune cells as well as provide clues to develop tumor immunotherapies for advanced cancer patients.
 
Acknowledgement of Support
I am greatly honored to be awarded AACR-Genentech Immuno-oncology Research Fellowship. This award gives me an opportunity to advance our knowledge for epigenetic reprogramming of tumor-infiltrating immune cells. This award will not only provide insights into novel strategies for cancer immunotherapy, but also facilitate my carrier into an independent scientist.

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2017 Grantees

AACR-Genentech Immuno-oncology Research Fellowship

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Melvyn T. Chow, PhD
Research Fellow
Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, Massachusetts
Overcoming resistance to PD-1 immune checkpoint blockade therapy

Scientific Statement of Research
Improving the efficacy of checkpoint blockade therapy is of paramount importance and is seemingly within reach, but will require a better understanding of the molecules that control the complex interactions of immune cells in the tumor microenvironment. Chemokines are chemotactic cytokines that orchestrate the migratory behavior and cellular interactions of leukocytes and, therefore, have great impact upon antitumor immune responses. Preliminary data showed that the CXCR3 chemokine system is required for anti-PD-1 immunotherapy. Furthermore, CXCR3 expression on CD8+ T cells inversely correlates with markers of exhaustion. Based on these exciting preliminary data, Dr. Chow hypothesizes that CXCR3 plays a functional role in the ability of exhausted T cells to become reinvigorated within the tumor following PD-1 blockade. He proposes to define the mechanisms by which CXCR3 contributes to the efficacy of PD-1 blockade therapy and determine if augmenting the CXCR3 chemokine system can improve the efficacy of anti-PD-1 therapy.

Biography
Dr. Chow completed his PhD in 2003 with Drs. Mark Smyth and Andreas Möller at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, University of Melbourne, Australia. His thesis research focused on the characterization of the role of danger signal receptors, including NLRP3 inflammasome and Toll-like receptor 3, in tumorigenesis and metastasis, in addition to defining the functions of these receptors in tumor immunity. Dr. Chow is currently a research fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, where his work focuses on understanding the role of chemokines in tumor immunity with a goal to improve cancer treatment.

Acknowledgement of Support
I am absolutely honored to be awarded the 2017 AACR-Genentech Immuno-oncology Research Fellowship for studying the resistance mechanisms of response to anti-PD-1. This award would lay the foundation for me to become an independent researcher and in the longer term, a leader in the immune-oncology field.

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AACR-Genentech Fellowship in Lung Cancer Research

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Wen-Yang Lin, PhD, MS
Postdoctoral Fellow
Stanford University
Stanford, California
Multiplexed pharmacogenomic analysis of lung cancer

Scientific Statement of Research
Dr. Wen-Yang Lin’s research is focused on generating a cost effective, quantitative, and multiplexed pharmacogenomic map connecting lung adenocarcinoma genotype to therapy response. Dr. Lin will integrate Cas9-mediated somatic gene inactivation with conventional genetically-engineered alleles to generate >10 different tumor genotypes simultaneously in individual mice. To quantify the size of each tumor and determine the size distribution of each tumor genotype, she will induce tumors with barcoded vectors and use high-throughput sequencing and statistical approaches to determine the number of cancer cells in each tumor. Dr. Lin will use this approach to determine the genotype specific effect of >15 therapies that have been either shown to have genotype-specific effects in lung adenocarcinoma models or are clinical approved therapies for other indications. This flexible system can incorporate additional tumor suppressors, allows for the investigation of genotype-specific responses to other therapies including immunotherapies, and be adapted to other cancer types.

Biography
Dr. Wen-Yang Lin is a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Monte Winslow’s laboratory at Stanford University. She is a passionate scientist and engineer focusing on identifying intrinsic and extrinsic mediators of tumor growth (good or bad). She grew up in Taiwan and earned her bachelor's degree in life science from National Taiwan University. Prior to her doctoral training, Dr. Lin earned her Master of Science degree in biomedical engineering from UCLA, specializing in three-dimensional tissue engineering. She completed her PhD thesis work in Dr. Jay Parrish’s laboratory at the University of Washington focusing on the growth control in Drosophila’s sensory neurons.

Acknowledgement of Support
I am honored to receive this 2017 AACR-Genentech Fellowship in Lung Cancer Research. This award will allow me to integrate my past experiences with the expertise of my mentor, become more involved with the AACR, and push forward my work which I hope someday will directly benefit cancer patients.

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