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AACR-Novocure Tumor Treating Fields Research Fellowship

The AACR-Novocure Tumor Treating Fields Research Fellowship represents a joint effort to promote and support postdoctoral and clinical research fellows to conduct innovative research focused on Tumor Treating Fields (TTFields), which are intermediate frequency, low intensity, alternating electric fields that disrupt cell division in cancer cells. This grant is intended to provide a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of action of this novel anti-cancer treatment modality and to accelerate the development of new treatment strategies to advance therapeutic options for cancer. The research proposed for funding must be focused on the preclinical application of TTFields in cancer and may be basic or translational in nature.

2019 GranteeS

Francesca Anna Carrieri, PhD

Francesca Anna Carrieri, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, Maryland
Centrosome clustering inhibition to enhance Tumor Treating Fields

Scientific Statement of Research
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the most aggressive and lethal cancers, responding only transiently to therapies and metastasizing aggressively in patients. Therefore, novel effective treatments for PDAC are desperately needed. Centrosome-clustering inhibition (CCI) provides a means to selectively kill cancer cells with supernumerary centrosomes (SNC). SNC are observed in the earliest stages of PDAC development, leading to more aggressive tumor biology. Tumor Treating Fields (TTFields) has been shown to have anti-cancer properties against PDAC by disrupting cancer cell replication and therefore affecting microtubule biology. Dr. Carrieri hypothesizes that TTFields mechanistically exert their selective anti-tumor effects on cells with SNC. She aims to determine whether the combination of TTFields and inhibition of centrosome clustering can enhance treatment efficacy against PDAC.

Biography
Born and raised in Italy, Dr. Carrieri obtained a BS in biotechnology and two MS degrees in industrial biotechnology and molecular biology from the University of Urbino. She then joined the Laboratory of Genetics at the National Institute on Aging, NIH, as a visiting fellow working under the supervision of Dr. Ramaiah Nagaraja. Upon award of a Wellcome Trust PhD fellowship at University of Dundee, UK, she mainly trained in biochemistry in Professor Kim Dale’s laboratory. After receiving her PhD in cellular and molecular biology in 2018, Dr. Carrieri joined Dr. Tran’s group at Johns Hopkins University as a postdoctoral fellow.

Acknowledgement of Support
I am extremely honored to be awarded the AACR-Novocure Tumor Treating Fields Research Fellowship. This award will support my research advancing therapeutic options for pancreatic cancer. It will also enable me to further develop my scientific career and become an independent investigator.

Preshita Desai, PhD

Preshita Desai, PhD

Research Scientist
Western University of Health Sciences
Pomona, California
Tumor Treating Fields triggered targeting of nanoparticles in cancer

Scientific Statement of Research
In recent years, Tumor Treating Fields (TTFields) has emerged as a promising, non-invasive modality in the treatment of cancer. It is critical to note that although TTFields are relatively safe, their concurrent use with anticancer drugs will continue to offer non-site specific severe drug adverse effects. To address this unmet need, Dr. Desai has proposed a novel approach, Tumor Treating Fields Triggered Targeting of Nanoparticles in Cancer (TTFields-TTONIC), for pancreatic cancer treatment. She aims to develop, optimize, and assess targeted self-assembling nanoparticles capable of releasing anticancer drugs at tumor sites in the presence of TTFields to ensure tumor specificity. With her studies, Dr. Desai proposes to investigate concurrent use of TTFields and TTFields-TTONIC to enhance the overall cancer treatment efficacy with significant reduction in side effects.

Biography
Dr. Desai works as a research scientist in Dr. Sunil Prabhu’s lab at the Western University of Health Sciences. She received her Bachelor of Pharmacy (2010), Master of Pharmacy in Pharmaceutics (2012) and PhD (Tech.) in Pharmaceutics (2016) from the Institute of Chemical Technology, India. She received an INSPIRE Fellowship and UKIERI Visiting Fellowship (UK-India) to conduct her doctoral studies. Dr. Desai is a formulation scientist with significant experience in the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical sector and specializes in nanotechnology based targeted delivery systems. She is presently pursuing multiple projects on nano-formulation development for cancer treatment and prevention.

Acknowledgement of Support
I am honored to receive the AACR-Novocure Tumor Treating Fields Research Fellowship, which will give me an opportunity to develop Tumor Treating Fields targeted nano-drug delivery systems for the treatment of cancer. This fellowship is a key milestone in my career and will enable me to become an independent scientist.