AACR-John and Elizabeth Leonard Family Foundation Basic Cancer Research Fellowship

The AACR-John and Elizabeth Leonard Family Foundation Basic Cancer Research Fellowship encourages and supports a postdoctoral or clinical research fellow to conduct basic cancer research and establish a successful career path in this field.

2023 Grantee

Ana Rita Nobre, PhD

Ana Rita Nobre, PhD

Research Scholar

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

New York, New York, USA

Unveiling the re-programming of choroid plexus and leptomeningeal metastasis


Leptomeningeal metastasis (LM), or spread of cancer cells into the tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord, is an increasingly common, fatal complication of cancer. Despite aggressive treatment, neurologic deficits accumulate rapidly, and patients generally succumb to LM within months. Under homeostatic conditions, choroid plexus (ChP), highly vascularized structures within the brain ventricles, restrict the entry of macromolecules and cells into the leptomeninges; however, select cancer cells can cross this barrier and grow within this space suggesting that interactions between cancer and ChP niche cells alter both the niche and the cancer cells, ultimately supporting LM. The use of clinically-annotated human cancer samples and mouse models of LM, and the integration of transcriptomics and proteomics can enable Dr. Nobre to identify novel therapeutic targets in both LM cells and their microenvironment prior to the accumulation of neurologic deficits, enabling both prevention and treatment of LM.


Dr. Nobre performed her PhD studies at Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, in breast cancer early dissemination and cancer dormancy. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Memorial Sloan Kettering, where she is integrating the use of human samples, mouse models, and cutting-edge techniques to uncover the crosstalk between the microenvironment and metastatic cancer cells in the leptomeningeal space.

Acknowledgment of Support

I am honored and grateful to have been selected to receive the AACR-John and Elizabeth Leonard Family Foundation Basic Cancer Research Fellowship. This invaluable support will provide me with an opportunity to better understand and address a devastating disease, and it is a great recognition in my scientific career.