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AACR-Janssen Cancer Interception Research Fellowship

The AACR-Janssen Cancer Interception Research Fellowship represents a joint effort to encourage and support a postdoctoral or clinical research fellow to conduct basic, translational, clinical, or epidemiological research in the field of cancer interception, which encompasses the areas of prevention, early detection, and early intervention, and to establish a successful career path in this field.

2018 Grantee

Jillian Phallen, PhD

Jillian Phallen, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Baltimore, Maryland
Colorectal cancer interception through detection of circulating tumor DNA

Scientific Statement of Research
Colorectal cancer remains one of the most common and lethal human cancers. Early detection and interception have the potential to change the high morbidity and mortality of the disease. While colonoscopy is an effective means of screening and interception, the procedure is invasive, compliance remains suboptimal, and the cost of implementation strains healthcare capacity in many countries. There is an unmet need to develop and implement a noninvasive test for colorectal cancer detection and interception. Next generation sequencing approaches for direct detection of circulating tumor DNA have been shown to be robust assays for early detection of colorectal cancer. Validation of these liquid biopsy approaches for CRC interception through direct detection of ctDNA in a prospectively collected screening cohort will move towards clinical implementation and CRC interception.

Dr. Phallen received her doctoral degree in 2017 from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland. Her graduate thesis in the laboratory of Dr. Victor Velculescu focused on circulating tumor DNA as a biomarker for cancer. She has continued this research as a postdoctoral research fellow in the same group with current research projects moving towards noninvasive early detection and screening diagnostics.

Acknowledgement of Support
The 2018 AACR-Janssen Cancer Interception Research Fellowship is unique in that it supports research for early detection and intervention for cancers when the disease is most treatable and potentially curable. It is an honor to lead a project focused on cancer interception, and I hope to directly affect patient care with this study.