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​AACR-John and Elizabeth Leonard Family Foundation Basic Cancer Research Fellowship 

The AACR-John and Elizabeth Leonard Family Foundation Basic Cancer Research Fellowships represent a joint effort to encourage and support mentored young investigators to conduct basic cancer research and to establish a successful career path in this field. Eligibility is limited to postdoctoral and clinical research fellows who will have completed their most recent doctoral degree within the past three years. The research proposed for funding may be in any area of basic cancer research.

2018 Grantee

Sicong Zhang, PhDSicong Zhang, PhD
Postdoctoral Associate
The Rockefeller University
New York, New York
headshot_1 line spacerMolecular Basis of Transcriptional Dysregulation in Breast Cancer

Scientific Statement of Research
Estrogen receptor (ER)-mediated transcription requires several classes of coactivators that include the Mediator complex. Strong Mediator interactions with nuclear receptors are mediated through MED1 subunit. Upregulation of MED1 expression and phosphorylation is correlated with higher tumor grade or tamoxifen recurrence of breast cancer. Notably, both knockdown of MED1 and mutations in MED1 phosphorylation sites restore tamoxifen sensitivity, but the mechanisms underlying the causal role of MED1 in conferring the resistant state remain unclear. I aim to elucidate mechanisms by which ER interactions with the Mediator, through MED1, effect the development of breast cancer and the agonist versus antagonist tamoxifen activity in transcription of ER target genes. This project will provide detailed insights into the transcription regulatory processes in breast cancer and advance our understanding of the clinical failure of tamoxifen by deciphering the transcriptional mechanism from test tube to preclinical model, with an ultimate goal to cure breast cancer patients.

Dr. Zhang received his BS degree in biological sciences from Fudan University and PhD in cancer biology from MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. He identified an oncogenic role of m6A demethylase in solid tumor by using epitranscriptomic study, molecular analyses and PDX models during his PhD in Dr. Suyun Huang’s lab. With a research interest of regulation of gene expression, Dr. Zhang joined Dr. Robert Roeder’s lab as a postdoctoral associate to study the molecular mechanisms for dysregulated gene transcription in breast cancer at The Rockefeller University in 2017.

Acknowledgement of Support
It’s my great honor to receive the 2018 AACR Basic Cancer Research Fellowship. This award is of critical importance to successful completion of my project. I deeply thank AACR for its continuous and generous support during my career toward an independent researcher in cancer biology.

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