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AACR Lymphoma Research Fellowship, supported by Pharmacyclics, an AbbVie Company, and Janssen Biotech, Inc.

The AACR Lymphoma Research Fellowship, supported by Pharmacyclics, an AbbVie Company, and Janssen Biotech, Inc., represents a joint effort to encourage and support postdoctoral or clinical research fellows to conduct lymphoma 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 lymphoma.

2018 Grantee

Jean Koff, MD

Jean Koff, MD

Emory Winship Cancer Institiution
Atlanta, Georgia
B cell repertoire, genetic abnormalities, and outcomes in B cell lymphoma

Scientific Statement of Research
Autoimmune diseases act as significant risk factors for developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), but how such immune dysregulation influences lymphoma outcomes remains unclear. Many dysregulated molecular pathways, including B-cell receptor (BCR) signaling, have been implicated in B-cell NHL. Disrupted BCR signaling can lead to abnormal survival and activation of autoreactive B-cells, facilitating autoimmune disease development and highlighting a key intersection between autoimmunity and NHL. Given this link, a shift toward increased circulating activated B-cell subsets as seen in autoimmune diseases may underlie increased NHL risk and contribute to lymphoma outcomes. In addition, autoimmune-associated NHLs may harbor distinctive molecular abnormalities that elucidate mechanistic pathways, but analysis of this disease subset remains unexplored. The proposed work seeks to characterize the genetic landscape of tumors and circulating B-cells in patients with autoimmune-associated NHL to investigate how activated B-cells impact clinical outcomes, and to identify therapeutic targets for poor-risk patient groups.

Dr. Koff is currently a lymphoma specialist in the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology of Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University. After graduating summa cum laude from Duke University, she completed medical school, internal medicine residency, and fellowship in hematology/oncology at Emory. In 2016, she was hired as a faculty member of Winship’s Bone Marrow Transplant division. She is also slated to receive a master’s degree in clinical research from Emory in Spring 2018. Her research seeks to characterize how pathologic B-cell activation in states of immune dysregulation, such as autoimmune disease, impacts lymphoma outcomes.

Acknowledgement of Support
The support of the 2018 AACR Lymphoma Research Fellowship is crucial in supporting my career development as a young clinician-scientist. By improving our understanding of relationships between autoimmune diseases and lymphoma outcomes, I hope to identify biomarkers that can guide treatment decisions and posit new therapeutic targets for lymphoma patients.