AACR-Bristol Myers Squibb Midcareer Female Investigator Grant

The AACR-Bristol Myers Squibb Midcareer Female Investigator Grant represents a joint effort to encourage and support mid-career female physician-scientists and researchers to conduct immuno-oncology research and to foster their career advancement toward becoming a senior investigator. Research projects may be translational or clinical in nature with a focus on immuno-oncology.

2020 grantee

Laura D. Wood, MD, PhD

Laura D. Wood, MD, PhD

Associate Professor
The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Baltimore, Maryland
Defining the immune microenvironment in Pancreatic IPMNs

Research
Pancreatic cancer arises through non-invasive precursor lesions that are curable if detected and treated early. One precursor lesion, intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm (IPMN), is a key target for clinical intervention and can serve as a model for premalignant pancreatic neoplasia. Dr. Wood aims to comprehensively analyze the immune microenvironment in a genomically characterized cohort of IPMNs, allowing correlation of the immune microenvironment with various features of the genomic landscape, including somatic mutations in specific driver genes, tumor mutational burden, and quality and quantity of predicted neoantigens. In addition, she and her research group plan to utilize an organoid model of IPMN to identify tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) specifically targeting these neoplasms.

Biography
Dr. Wood earned both her MD and PhD from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She completed residency in anatomic pathology and a fellowship in gastrointestinal and liver pathology, also at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She now leads her own research laboratory focused on molecular characterization of pancreatobiliary neoplasms.

Acknowledgement of Support
I am honored to receive the AACR-Bristol Myers Squibb Midcareer Female Investigator Grant. I greatly appreciate this support at this critical stage in my career, which will enable our group to perform exciting new studies integrating cancer genomics, tumor immunology, and novel in vitro models of pancreatic neoplasia.

2019 grantee

Julie Schwarz, MD, PhD

Julie Schwarz, MD, PhD

Associate Professor
Washington University in St. Louis
St. Louis, Missouri
Targeting CXCR2 to improve radiation induced anti-tumor immunity

Research
Radiation therapy (RT) has well known immune suppressive effects, including stimulating the expression of cytokines and chemokines that promote the migration of immune suppressive cell subsets into the tumor microenvironment (TME). Experiments in this project have been designed to test the hypotheses that 1) radiation promotes myeloid cell accumulation in the cervical TME via the CXCR2/ELR+ chemokine axis which limits anti-tumor immunity, and 2) selective targeting of CXCR2 will improve the efficacy of RT and RT combined with immune checkpoint blockade (RT + ICB). RT-associated changes in tumor associated macrophages (TAMs), neutrophils (TANs) and T cell subpopulations are set to be tracked using single cell RNA sequencing (sc-RNA) and mass cytometry (CyTOF) of human cervical tumor specimens collected before and during treatment. Selective targeting of myeloid cell infiltration with CXCR2 inhibition is set to be tested as a means to improve the response to RT and RT + ICB in a mouse model of HPV-associated cancer.

Biography
Dr. Schwarz earned her MD and PhD degrees in the Medical Scientist Training Program at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis (WUSM). She was a Holman Research Pathway resident in radiation oncology at WUSM. She currently serves as the cancer biology division chief within the Department of Radiation Oncology at WUSM. Her current research interests include radiation resistance, functional imaging, metabolism, and genomics in cervical cancer.

Acknowledgement of Support
I am honored to receive the AACR-Bristol-Myers Squibb Midcareer Female Investigator Grant. My lab studies radiation responses using human tumor specimens and mouse models of HPV-associated cancers. This funding will allow my lab to grow in a promising new direction. We will determine how radiation influences the immune-suppressive tumor microenvironment.