AACR Career Development Award to Further Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Pancreatic Cancer Research

The AACR Career Development Award to Further Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Cancer Research has been established to support the development of highly talented cancer researchers from under-represented groups (as per NIH guidelines). Eligibility is limited to members of racial or ethnic groups that have been shown to be underrepresented in the cancer related sciences.

2021 grantee

Luisa Escobar-Hoyos, MSc, PhD

Luisa Escobar-Hoyos, MSc, PhD

Assistant Professor

Yale University

New Haven, Connecticut

RNA splicing: the “missing link” in pancreatic cancer pathogenesis and immunity


Pancreatic cancer (PC) is a highly aggressive and lethal cancer that is resistant to currently available therapies. The Escobar-Hoyos laboratory recently discovered that PCs are exquisitely susceptible to a range of therapies directed at RNA splicing. However, it is unknown how alterations in RNA splicing drive PC tumorigenesis or impact therapeutic responses. Thus, identification of the role of aberrant RNA splicing in PC tumorigenesis could reveal novel therapeutic targets. Our long-term goal is to identify, design, and test novel mechanistic-based targeted therapies for highly aggressive tumors such as PC. The main objective of this project is to characterize the role of RNA splicing factor mutations in PC pathogenesis and treatment response. These results will uncover a fundamental, yet novel non-mutational mechanism required for PC pathogenesis and tumor maintenance: altered RNA splicing. 


Dr. Escobar-Hoyos is a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Departments of Therapeutic Radiology, Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University. Her laboratory’s mission is to identify, design and test novel biomarker- and mechanistic-based targeted therapies for pancreatic cancer and other aggressive tumors. Her laboratory has revealed aberrant RNA splicing and transcription programs that drive tumorigenesis, promote aggressive behavior and therapeutic resistance in tumor cells. These studies provided pre-clinical data that is now being translated into phase 1 and 2 clinical trials. Before starting at Yale University, she conducted her postdoctoral training at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and doctoral studies at Stony Brook University. 

Acknowledgment of Support

I am thrilled and honored to be an awardee the 2021 AACR Career Development Award to Further Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion in Pancreatic Cancer Research. The funded studies will provide novel and fundamental understanding of the processes that cause pancreatic cancer and lead to the development of novel and effective therapies against this disease.