AACR Fellowships to Further Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Immuno-oncology 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

Natasha Pinto Medici, PhD

Natasha Pinto Medici, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Yale University

New Haven, CT

RNA splicing hijacks anti-tumor immunity in pancreatic cancer


Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a devastating disease due to diagnosis at advanced stage and resistance to all current available therapies. However, the development of resistance is unattributed to additional mutations, suggesting that non-mutational mechanisms help these tumors thrive while blocking immune surveillance. Therefore, there is an unmet need to understand the molecular pathology and immunology of PDAC to develop novel therapeutics. Transcriptional regulation has received extensive attention as a mechanism of therapeutic resistance, but RNA Splicing (RS), a more widespread and potent mechanism of gene regulation and protein diversity, is still poorly understood in therapeutic resistance and immune response. Dr. Natasha Pinto Medici’s research will help toward the understanding of RS, which has the potential to uncover novel mechanism that cancer cells use to transform and thrive. Moreover, her research will help guide the combination of therapies with anti-splicing therapy to restore immune cell activity and sensitivity in therapy resistant cancers.


Dr. Pinto Medici is a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Luisa Escobar-Hoyos in the Department of Therapeutic Radiology at Yale University. Originally from Brazil, Dr. Pinto Medici obtained her undergraduate and master’s degrees in immunology from Universidad Federal do Rio de Janeiro. After being awarded with a competitive Brazilian fellowship for studies abroad, she came to the USA and obtained her PhD in molecular genetics and microbiology from Stony Brook University. As a trained immunologist, she understands that the immune system contributes to disease prognosis. Currently she researches the molecular regulation of immunity in pancreatic cancer, a deadly and undruggable malignancy.

Acknowledgment of Support

I am honored to be awarded with this AACR fellowship. As a Latina, I feel proud and grateful to have my research valued. With this award, I hope to expand my studies in the immunology of pancreatic cancer to improve therapy and bring hope to patients and their families.