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AACR Judah Folkman Career Development Award for Angiogenesis Research

The AACR Judah Folkman Career Development Award for Angiogenesis Research represents a joint effort to encourage and support a physician-scientist, who is in the first five years of faculty appointment, to conduct cancer research and establish a successful career path in this field. Proposed research projects can be basic, translational, clinical, or epidemiological in nature, and must substantially advance the field of tumor angiogenesis.

2016 Grantee

Yi FanYi Fan, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology
The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Vascular transformation in glioblastoma

Scientific Statement of Research
Sustained angiogenesis is a hallmark of cancer. Newly formed blood vessels regulate tumor growth, progression, and metastasis by delivering oxygen and nutrients and by producing paracrine factors to the tumor microenvironment. As such, anti-angiogenesis has emerged as a crucial strategy for cancer treatment. However, inefficient eradication and insufficient functional inhibition of tumor-associated endothelial cells (ECs) act as potential major barriers to current antivascular therapy. Dr. Fan recently revealed that glioblastoma-associated ECs exhibited robust cell plasticity, inducing aberrant vascularization and treatment resistance to anti-VEGF therapy. Interestingly, these ECs underwent cell transformation to acquire mesenchymal stem cell (MSC)-like phenotypes and induce resistance to cytotoxic treatment. Thus, vascular de-transformation may serve as a promising strategy for efficient eradication and functional inhibition of tumor-associated ECs, which may block cancer progression and overcome treatment resistance. In the proposed studies, Dr. Fan will define the underlying mechanism that regulates EC plasticity in tumor microenvironment, and will determine the in vivo role of endothelial Wnt for vascular transformation and glioblastoma progression. Successful completion of these studies will provide novel insights into tumor angiogenesis and treatment resistance, and may lead to development of next generation anti-vascular therapies by EC de-transformation.

The career progression of Dr. Yi Fan represents a consistent commitment to angiogenesis research. Dr. Fan received his medical degree in 1999 from the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and a PhD in 2009 from the Case Western Reserve University. After completing postdoctoral training at the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Fan joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania in 2013, and started his tenure-track assistant professor position in 2014.

Acknowledgement of Support
I am grateful to AACR for supporting our research on tumor angiogenesis. This unique program will allow us to take focused approaches to explore new mechanism that regulates tumor vascularization and to develop new, vasculature-based therapeutic targets for cancer treatment.

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