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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.

2019 Grantees

AACR-Genentech Cancer Health Disparities Research Fellowship

Rodriguez_SerenaSerena Rodriguez, PhD, MPH
Postdoctoral Researcher
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Dallas, Texas
spacerAssessing cervical cancer screening among resettled refugee women

Scientific Statement of Research
Resettled refugees experience disproportionate cancer morbidity and mortality compared to non-refugee populations in host countries. In the United States, refugee women have significantly lower cervical cancer screening rates compared to American-born women. This study leverages cohort data from a large safety-net health care system and will 1) characterize cervical cancer screening, follow-up, and outcomes among refugee women, 2) describe barriers to screening and follow-up, and 3) synthesize findings to identify intervention opportunities to increase screening and follow-up among refugee patients. This study provides a unique opportunity to advance the field of refugee health care. It will assess data from an often hard-to-reach patient population to identify more granular disparities in screening and outcomes within a safety-net patient population (e.g., among refugee patients compared to non-refugee patients or among refugee patients from different geographical regions), if present. This specificity can pinpoint opportunities to create tailored interventions to increase screening and reduce cervical cancer incidence.

Biography
Dr. Rodriguez is a behavioral scientist and cancer health disparities researcher with expertise in intervention development and evaluation and a background in global health. She is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and her research focuses on improving cancer care delivery for vulnerable patient subpopulations. Dr. Rodriguez received her PhD from the UTHealth School of Public Health in Houston where she was an NCI predoctoral fellow. Dr. Rodriguez also holds an MPH from UTHealth, an MA in international service from the University of Roehampton, London, and a BA in psychology from Rice University.  

Acknowledgment of Support
I am incredibly thankful to be awarded the AACR-Genentech Cancer Health Disparities Research Fellowship. This award supports a study I believe can make a significant impact on refugee health care and cancer health disparities. I am thankful for this opportunity to build my research portfolio as I move towards research independence.

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AACR-Genentech Cancer Health Disparities Research Fellowship

Siddharth_SumitSumit Siddharth, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, Maryland
spacerNURR1 contributes to racial disparity of triple-negative breast cancer

Scientific Statement of Research
Earlier onset, more advanced stage at diagnosis, and aggressive tumor phenotype are some of the characteristic features of triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) in women with African ethnicity in comparison to European-American women, denoting one of the most significant examples of racial disparity in oncology. Mortality from TNBC is significantly higher in African American (AA) women in comparison to European American (EA) women (five-year relative survival of only 14 percent for AA in comparison to 36 percent for EA). It is imperative to understand the molecular determinants that drive aggressive progression of AA-TNBC. Based on an in vitro multiple cell line study and meta-analysis of a TNBC cohort, well validated by TCGA database, Dr. Siddharth hypothesizes that elevated NURR1 expression in AA-TNBC results in “oncogene addiction” and mediates aggressive progression of AA-TNBC in comparison to EA-TNBC and is a critical mediator of racial disparity in TNBC progression.

Biography
Dr. Siddharth is a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Dipali Sharma’s lab in the department of oncology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He is working on deciphering the molecular determinants responsible for racial disparity of triple negative breast cancer progression among African-American and European-American women. He completed his MS degree in biotechnology from HNB Garhwal University, India and earned his PhD in biotechnology with specialization in cancer biology from KIIT University, Odisha, India. His thesis research focused on the characterization of distinct pre-metastatic quiescent-breast cancer stem cells (Q-BCSCs) in a model system of breast cancer metastasis.

Acknowledgement of Support
I am extremely honored to be awarded the AACR-Genentech Cancer Health Disparities Research Fellowship 2019. This fellowship will allow me to develop a better understanding of molecular mechanisms driving African-American triple negative breast cancer growth and devise a pathway-specific therapeutic intervention in the future.

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2018 Grantee

AACR-Genentech Immuno-Oncology Research Fellowship

Hyungseok Seo, PhDHyungseok Seo, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
La Jolla Institute for Allergy and 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 BS 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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