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AACR-Mirati Cancer Chemical Biology Research Fellowship

The AACR-Mirati Cancer Chemical Biology Research Fellowship represents a joint effort to encourage and support postdoctoral or clinical research fellow to conduct chemical biology research directed at developing novel approaches to targeting the difficult-to-drug cancer drivers and to establish a successful career path in this field.

2022 Grantee

Fatima Alghoul, PhD

Fatima Alghoul, PhD

Postdoctoral Researcher

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Boston, Massachusetts

Discovery of gene regulation by non-canonical metabolite cap structures


Recent data has challenged the dogma that all mRNAs contain a conserved methylated m7G cap structure, and has revealed that metabolic cofactors serve as non-canonical 5′ cap structures on mRNAs. This finding presents a potential new mechanism that links cellular metabolic state with gene regulation during homeostasis and in cancer. However, the identity of which transcripts contain non-canonical 5′ cap structures is unknown, and thus our ability to understand the function of these noncanonical caps remains limited. To address this challenge, Dr. Alghoul is set to develop an enzymatic and chemical biology tool to isolate and sequence mRNAs with non-canonical 5′ cap structures. By combining this novel approach with detailed biochemical and cell-based approaches, her research can provide further molecular and cellular understanding of the function of alternative 5′ cap structure in gene regulation and cellular physiology.  


Dr. Alghoul obtained her PhD from the University of Strasbourg, France. Her research has elucidated the mechanisms by which translation of Hox mRNAs is regulated during embryonic development by Translation Inhibitory Elements. Dr. Alghoul is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School. Her current research focuses on the development of an innovative technology to capture mRNAs with metabolite cap structures.

Acknowledgment of Support

I am deeply honored to be a recipient of the AACR-Mirati Cancer Chemical Biology Research Fellowship. This fellowship not only supports my project but also enhances my progress towards my career goal to leverage chemical biology approaches to provide innovative and fundamental insights on gene regulation.