In This Section

Debbie’s Dream Foundation-AACR Career Development Award for Gastric Cancer Research

The Debbie’s Dream Foundation-AACR Career Development Award for Gastric Cancer Research represents a joint effort to encourage and support junior faculty, who will have completed their most recent medical residency or doctoral degree within the past 11 years, to conduct gastric cancer research and to establish a successful career path in this field. The research proposed for funding may be basic, translational, clinical, or epidemiological in nature and must have direct applicability and relevance to non-Helicobactor pylori associated gastric cancer.

2017 Grantee

Eunyoung Choi, PhD

Eunyoung Choi, PhD

Research Instructor
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Nashville, Tennessee
A novel metaplastic organoid system for studying gastric carcinogenesis

Scientific Statement of Research
Gastric cancer is one of leading causes of cancer-related death worldwide. Previously, Dr. Choi has described that gastric chief cells are the origin of metaplasia and Kras activation, specifically in chief cells, can rapidly lead to metaplasia development, including intestinal metaplasia (IM) and invasive lesions. Also, inhibition of MEK, a downstream of Kras signaling, led to regression of IM and restoration of normal gastric lineages. In this study, she will investigate mechanisms of metaplasia progression to gastric adenocarcinoma using metaplastic organoids derived from active Kras-induced metaplasia, and cellular plasticity of the metaplastic organoids using a MEK inhibitor. She also plans to re-implant the metaplastic organoids to mouse stomach submucosa to determine the tumorigenic properties of metaplastic cells as a gastric cancer origin. The results from this proposed study will provide critical preclinical information to aid in designing therapeutic or preventive interventions to inhibit gastric cancer development in humans.

Dr. Choi has broad research training experiences in reproductive/embryonic biology, stem cell biology and gastric cancer biology. Since she completed graduate training in 2009 at GIST (Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology) in South Korea, Dr. Choi has worked at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, studying aspects of gastric cancer biology as a member of Epithelial Biology Center. Currently, Dr. Choi is a research instructor in the Department of Surgery and is expected to be promoted to a tenure track assistant professor in the spring of 2017.

Acknowledgement of Support
As a junior investigator, Debbie’s Dream Foundation-AACR Gastric Cancer Research Career Development Award is an important springboard for me to initiate my own research as a principal investigator, and it will have a significant impact on my career. Thus, this award is critical for my successful transition to an independent investigator.