​Announcing the Results of the Associate Member Council Elections    

The Associate Member Council (AMC) thanks all candidates who applied for the 2018-2021 term. There were exceptional individuals who submitted applications this round, which made for a very competitive review.

At this time, the AMC is pleased to announce that the following individuals were selected to begin their three-year term starting at the AACR Annual Meeting 2018 and have all accepted their position:

Kristin G. Anderson, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Fred Hutchinson, Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

As a graduate student, my studies were interrupted briefly when I was diagnosed with and underwent treatment for localized breast cancer. My experience as a patient inspired me to apply my immunology skills to the field of cancer biology and translational immunotherapy. Cancer research saved my life, and I am dedicated to paying it forward.

Currently, I am a post-doctoral research fellow at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. My mentor is Dr. Philip Greenberg, a recognized expert in developing genetically-engineered antitumor T-cell therapies. In the lab, I am developing molecular engineering strategies to improve T cell killing in ovarian cancer, with the ultimate goal of translating my findings into treatment protocols for patients. I lead a team that uses patient samples to identify immunosuppressive features in the tumor microenvironment; we then use mouse models that recapitulate these features to evaluate strategies to improve the migration, persistence and function of genetically engineered T cells. My findings are intended to inform the development of adoptive T-cell therapy tools for treating ovarian cancer patients, but the mechanisms I study are operative in many solid tumors and will likely have applicability to many other malignancies. Ultimately, my goal is to become an independent investigator in translational immunotherapy research.

I attended my first AACR conference in 2014, and since then I have attended many of the career development events organized by the AMC. I am honored and excited to be joining the council, and I hope to utilize my skills and experiences to develop further resources that will benefit other early-career scientists and serve the AACR Associate member community.  

Andreana N. Holowatyj, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Population Sciences, Huntsman Cancer Institute and the University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah

As a child, the losses of my father and grandfather were pivotal experiences that steered my interests to a career in medicine–dedicated to saving the lives of others. What fueled my focus on cancer research growing up was watching my grandfather tirelessly fight Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for over five years. As a Susan G. Komen for the Cure Graduate Training in Disparities Research Fellow, I completed my PhD in cancer biology and a Graduate Certificate in public health practice in the laboratory of Dr. Michele L. Cote at the Wayne State University School of Medicine and Karmanos Cancer Institute in 2017. This multidisciplinary training in molecular cancer epidemiology and basic sciences bench work has provided me with a unique translational research perspective for examining and deciphering the complexities of cancer.

I am now a NIH/NHGRI T32 Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA post-doctoral fellow in Genomic Medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine and Huntsman Cancer Institute, in the laboratory of Dr. Cornelia (Neli) M. Ulrich. My current research focuses on unraveling the molecular underpinnings (e.g., transcriptome, genome, microbiome) of young-onset colorectal cancer by leveraging data from the ColoCare Study and other international consortia. My research also deciphers how energy balance and tumor-adipose crosstalk impact cancer risk and/or outcomes, and the molecular factors underlying cancer disparities and prevention. Ultimately, my goal is to become an academic faculty member and independent investigator. My lab will seek to elucidate the underlying etiologies and molecular drivers of carcinogenesis in patients, and develop personalized prevention modalities to reduce this disease burden.

During my doctoral training, I engaged in science policy/advocacy at the federal level in meetings with congressional legislators and staff during the 2016 and 2017 AACR Early-career Hill Days. In April 2017, I was honored to serve as a panelist for the AACR Congressional Briefing on Capitol Hill titled, "The Road to Cancer Survivorship," to discuss critical priorities and challenges today in cancer research from the perspective of an early-career investigator. At this critical inflection point for biomedical research and funding, I am humbled to be continuing my advocacy work on the AACR Associate Member Council. As a Council member, I hope to further initiatives in scientific policy and collaboratively build a stronger platform and voice for early-career colleagues to propel the next generation of cancer discoveries and cures.

Faruk Mohammed, MS, Cancer Scientist/Graduate Student, Department of Pathology, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria

I am a cancer scientist in the Department of Pathology at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) in Zaria, Nigeria and an Honorary Cancer Scientist at ABU Teaching Hospital Shika in Zaria, Nigeria. I have trained as a cancer research scientist under the mentorship of Professor Emeritus Paul Nelson (late) and under the supervision of Dr Ian Nichol at the University of Wolverhampton. I am the principal investigator at ABU sites for the collaboration between ABU Zaria and University of Florida; ABU Zaria and Tuskegee University; and, ABU Zaria and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University. In addition, I am the principal investigator at ABU Zaria for the US NCI and University of Florida collaborative study titled “NGS of Archived FFPE Tissues from Men of African Descent;” the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard collaborative study titled “Molecular Characterisation of Cancer;” the University of Florida and NCI EGRP Prostate Cancer Transatlantic Consortium multiinstitutional collaborative study titled “Prostate Cancer Familial Project” which focuses on the prostate cancer burden and risk factors in Nigerian men and Nigerian men in the diaspora; and, the Tuskegee University, Alabama collaborative study titled, “A precision Medicine Study of How Inflammation May Underlie the Excessive Burden of Prostate Cancer in Men of African Ancestry.” I am a recipient of the Japanese Cancer Association (JCA) Meritorious Cancer Presentation Award (JCA/AACR Tokyo, Japan in July 2016) and the first representative from an African university to present cancer research findings in the JCA conference since its inception.

Cancer affects people of all races and ethnicities, globally. However, Blacks suffer disproportionately from cancer and its associated effects, including high mortality and this is more pronounced in the sub-saharan African countries. My research interests include: 1) cancer health disparities and prostate cancer genomics in African/black populations; 2) the role of human endogenous retroviruses in cancer; and, 3) the role of dietary fibre and/or aspirin on BIRC7 as a chemopreventive agent in colorectal cancer. My longterm goal is to contribute to a significant decrease in cancer incidence and morbidity across the African continent and beyond via research and education.

Chirag B. Patel, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Molecular Imaging/Radiology and Clinical Fellow, Neuro-oncology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California

After graduating from the MD/PhD program at the MD Anderson/UT-Houston Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and UT-Houston McGovern Medical School, I completed adult neurology residency at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. During residency, I was afforded six months of protected research time through a NINDS R25 Translational Neuroscience Training Grant and an American Medical Association Foundation Research Seed Grant to study 18F-FDOPA PET imaging in human glioblastoma. I am currently a postdoctoral fellow in molecular imaging co-mentored by Dr. Sanjiv Gambhir (Department of Radiology) and Dr. Lawrence Recht (Department of Neurology) and a clinical fellow in neuro-oncology (Department of Neurology) at Stanford University School of Medicine. My research is supported by the NINDS R25 Translational Neuroscience Training Grant, Stanford Cancer Institute Fellowship Award for Cancer Research, American Brain Tumor Association Basic Research Fellowship (supported by the Ryan J. Hanrahan Memorial), and Stanford Society of Physician Scholars Grant.

Whereas my PhD work focused on high-field MR imaging of blood-spinal cord barrier breakdown and reconstitution in spinal cord injury, my postdoctoral research is aligned with my clinical interests in glioblastoma diagnostics and therapeutics. First, I am studying tumor treating fields (TTFields, a form of alternating electric fields directed at the tumor via electrodes placed on the skin), a novel therapy with FDA approval in patients with glioblastoma. The mechanisms of action of this emerging anticancer modality are not wholly understood and need to be elucidated in order to develop regimens that effectively combine TTFields with traditional modalities (e.g. chemotherapy, radiation therapy) and other emerging approaches (e.g. immunotherapy). Second, I am exploring strategies that target the adaptive mechanisms used by tumor cells to survive (e.g. recruitment of a new blood supply to hypoxic areas through hypoxia-inducible factor and its prolyl-hydroxylase 2 oxygen sensor), with a particular emphasis on synergistic chemotherapy combinations that markedly delay tumor recurrence. Third, I am helping colleagues in the lab to translate their findings to the neuro-oncology clinic with (a) first-in-human Phase I clinical trials of novel radiotracers for the noninvasive diagnosis of glioblastoma and evaluation of its response to therapy and (b) Phase 0 and Phase I clinical trials of novel glioblastoma therapeutic agents.

My goal as a physician-scientist in academic neuro-oncology is to focus on translational research that is scientifically sound, and as important, has the highest potential to make a clinically-significant extension in the survival of patients diagnosed with glioblastoma. In order to achieve this goal, I have pursued opportunities in the form of seeking guidance from mentors, attending career development workshops (NINDS, American Academy of Neurology, American Neurological Association), serving in national leadership positions (American Physician Scientists Association, American Medical Association Medical Student Section Committee on Scientific Issues), and engaging in discussions with colleagues in the lab and the clinic. I am grateful for these support systems that have buoyed me during each phase of training.

Through its comprehensive programming for trainees and early-career scientists in cancer research, the AACR Associate Member Council (AMC) offers each of these opportunities (and much more) at the Annual Meeting. I joined the AACR as an Associate member in 2016, and am thankful for this new opportunity to serve on the AMC with like-minded colleagues dedicated to quality resources and programming targeting trainees at each stage of their career development.

We would encourage everyone to review opportunities on the AACR website that are coming up in 2018 for Associate members, organized/sponsored by the AMC, and if eligible, apply again for the 2019-2022 term (applications will open Summer 2018).

Application Process

Each applicant needs to complete the online Application for Candidacy, including the submission of a complete CV and letter of recommendation from their primary mentor (a supplemental letter of endorsement will additionally be required/accepted only if the primary mentor is not currently an AACR Active Member in good standing). All supplemental materials must be submitted via the online application form (in PDF format). Once the application period ends, members of the current council conduct a thorough and intensive review of all eligible applications. Four new members of the council are announced each year by the end of the calendar year. All applicants are notified of the status of their application, regardless of the decision.

Term of Office

Each member serves a three-year term of office that commences at the AACR Annual Meeting. Those elected in the 2018-2021 cycle will begin their service at the AACR Annual Meeting 2018 and conclude their service at the AACR Annual Meeting 2021.

Duties of the AMC

Each year, four Associate Members are selected to serve three-year terms on the Associate Member Council (AMC). The AMC is a leadership body representing over 15,000 AACR graduate students, medical students and residents, and clinical and postdoctoral fellows. As such, the AMC serves in an advisory capacity to the AACR leadership, and helps develop programs and services to address the needs of early-career investigators in cancer research. The AMC also provides a venue for collegial discussion about the challenges of a career in cancer research and helps provide recommendations on how to sustain this important workforce. People have joined the council to broaden their insights and network in the cancer research field, increase their likelihood and potential for future collaborations, learn more about the AACR, represent the membership, and help organize events to promote career development for early-career investigators.

To fulfill the responsibilities outlined in the charter, members of the AMC develop programs and services for early-career scientists, including career development workshops presented during the AACR Annual Meeting; contribute to content for the Associate Member Quarterly e-Bulletin; facilitate communication among early-career scientists through peer-to-peer networking, mentorship, and collaboration with senior AACR members; and, encourage corporate relationship building, among other projects.

The main goals of the council are to:

  • Promote the AACR and its programs;
  • Encourage and maintain active participation of all eligible early-career scientists in AACR activities;
  • Foster the professional development of the Associate Members of the AACR in accordance with the organization's mission statement;
  • Represent the interests of early-career scientists by acting as a liaison and advisory body to the AACR Board of Directors; and,
  • Serve as representatives of all Associate Members at the AACR Annual Meeting and during other functions, as deemed appropriate by the AACR leadership.

In recognition of the extraordinary time commitments of early-career scientists, obligations related to AMC service are kept as manageable as possible. Throughout each year of service, council members participate in planning meetings, conference calls, receptions, and other events as official representatives of the Council and the AACR. AMC members are expected to participate in monthly conference calls, attend all Annual Meetings during their term, attend a face-to-face planning meeting each summer in Philadelphia, and periodically contribute to written materials. Typically, during the second or third year of service, council members are requested to chair various planning subcommittees.

In 2015, the AMC Committees were formed to help the AMC and AACR further engage with the Associate membership, year-round, and to assist the AMC with developing projects and initiatives of a larger scale. All AMC members have the option of chairing one of these committees or participating as a committee member, based on their level of interest and availability. AMC Committee service is for a one-year term. Anyone currently serving on an AMC Committee may apply for an official council position during the current year's call for applications (council members will not begin their term of service until the following Annual Meeting, which is also when each AMC Committee term is concluded; therefore, there will not be any overlap/conflict in dates of service).

Overall, potential applicants should be aware that serving on the council requires year-round contributions and regular participation in activities. Again, on average, the AACR strives to keep the workload and time commitment for each council member fairly manageable.

Notes from previous AMC Members about serving on the council:

  •  "It exceeded my expectations. The people were so amazing to work with that they felt like friends..."
  • "Being part of the AMC was a great experience, and it was nice to contribute to programs for early-career scientists."
  • "I had a great time serving on the AMC, and thoroughly enjoyed contributing to its activities. It was a unique experience...I have learned a lot from interacting with the AACR staff and other AMC members."
  • "For me, there were really two primary reasons for being on the AMC. One was gaining leadership experience and connections in order to be able to make a bigger impact in cancer research down the line; the more important one to me, however, was helping other early-career scientists find their way in light of the changing landscape of cancer research."

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