The AACR-Pfizer Research Fellowships represent a joint effort to encourage and support postdoctoral or clinical research fellows to conduct breast cancer or immuno-oncology research and to establish a successful career path in the field. Funded research can be basic, translational, clinical, or epidemiological in nature.
A feared complication of metastatic breast cancer is the development of brain metastases (BM) due to the substantial morbidity and limitations in current treatments. While precision medicine approaches for BM have recently demonstrated promising responses, many patients are not able to benefit from this treatment paradigm as molecular analysis of BM tissue is not usually feasible. To answer this question, Dr. Kim will apply genomic profiling and deep learning methods to a rich dataset comprised of breast cancer BM tissues, patient-matched brain MRIs, and cell-free DNA samples in order to develop techniques that reveal therapeutic targets within a patient’s BM. His hope is that these findings will shift current paradigms – for example, a lumbar puncture and MRI, instead of tissue from a neurosurgical resection, may be opportunities to non-invasively identify oncogenic drivers for a BM and longitudinally monitor breast cancer evolution.
Dr. Kim attended medical school at the Medical College of Georgia. He completed neurology residency training at Washington University in St. Louis and is a neuro-oncology fellow at the Dana-Farber/Partners Cancer Care Program. He is an Instructor at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, where he sees patients at the Pappas Center of Neuro-Oncology. Dr. Kim is also a post-doctoral fellow at the MGH Brain Tumor Center and the MGH Martinos Center, where he uses Omics-based techniques and medical imaging to define and target genomic and metabolic pathways for brain metastases.
Acknowledgment of Support
I am deeply humbled and honored to be a recipient of the AACR-Pfizer Breast Cancer Research Fellowship. As an oncologist-in-training, I am dedicated to a career leading a translational group that facilitates precision medicine for patients with brain metastases. This award provides critical support for my transition to independence.
Through single-cell RNA sequencing of breast cancer specimens, Dr. Chi previously identified a cancer-specific iron transport system LCN2/SLAC22A17 as an essential mediator of leptomeningeal metastasis (LM) growth. In this project, she aims to elucidate the mechanisms that allow cancer cells to overcome the inflammatory and hypoferremic microenvironment of LM. She is set to characterize cancer cell-immune cell interactions using clinical samples. In addition, she plans to determine mechanisms of iron transport in the tumor microenvironment.
Dr. Chi received her PhD at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. As a research fellow at MSKCC and a scholar of the Alan and Sandra Gerry Metastasis and Tumor Ecosystems Center, she is studying the microenvironmental landscape of breast cancer leptomeningeal metastasis.
Acknowledgment of Support
It is my great honor to receive the 2020 AACR-Pfizer Breast Cancer Research Fellowship, which will facilitate my project in cancer research. This fellowship will also provide very important support for me to further explore leptomeningeal metastasis from mechanism to treatment.
FTO is the first identified N6-methyladenosine RNA demethylase and has been shown to play a role in tumorigenesis in leukemia and brain tumors, but its function remains elusive in breast cancer. Dr. Tan’s preliminary data shows that FTO promotes proliferation of breast cancer cells and demonstrates the therapeutic potential of a novel FTO inhibitor in breast cancer. He aims to identify FTO targets using transcriptome-wide sequencing methods and to assess the efficacy of an FTO inhibitor in in vitro and in vivo models of breast cancer.
Dr. Tan completed his PhD at the University of Southern California, where he elucidated the role of N6-methyladenosine in Kaposi’s Sarcoma-associated herpesvirus replication and tumorigenesis. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the City of Hope Beckman Research Institute, where he focuses on the influence of the N6-methyladenosine epitranscriptome on tumorigenesis and on anti-tumor therapies that modulate the epitranscriptome.
Acknowledgment of Support
The AACR-Pfizer Breast Cancer Research Fellowship will support my research in breast cancer, which focuses on targeting novel oncogenic pathways of cancer. My goal is to quickly translate new therapies to the bedside. This fellowship will also assist in my career development as I strive to be an independent investigator.
Numerous immunotherapy clinical trials for triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) are ongoing and have demonstrated tremendous achievements. However, response rates are still far from satisfactory, as only about 10-20 percent of patients are responsive due to anti-PD-1/PD-L1 resistance and inadequate biomarkers for patient selection. Through non-biased methods, receptor tyrosine kinase Tyro3 has been identified as a major contributor to anti-PD-1/PD-L1 resistance. Dr. Jiang aims to elucidate the mechanism of Tyro3-mediated anti-PD-1 resistance in TNBC and to explore the therapeutic potential of combining a Tyro3 inhibitor and PD-1 antibody.
Dr. Jiang received his PhD from Wuhan University, China. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he focuses on resistance mechanisms of anti-PD1/PD-L1 therapy, and new biomarkers to predict resistance.
Acknowledgement of Support
This fellowship will not only support my ongoing project but also promote my career development as a translational scientist in the cancer immunotherapy field. I sincerely appreciate Pfizer and the AACR for this fellowship opportunity. It is my great honor to receive this funding support.