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Project to sort cancer-causing cellular chaos wins innovator award

Promise - Spring 2013


Nicholas Navin, Ph.D.The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation has named MD Anderson scientist Nicholas Navin, Ph.D., the Nadia’s Gift Foundation Innovator, one of its 2013 Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Awards. The award provides $150,000 a year for three years.

Nadia and Peter Van Camp launched Nadia’s Gift Foundation in 2009 on her 50th birthday. Nadia died in 2010 after eight years of fighting breast cancer.

The foundation was impressed with Navin’s belief that the key to sorting out cancer-causing cellular chaos lies in identifying important mutations in single tumor cells. Identifying these cells is particularly important for those with triple-negative breast cancer.

“Triple-negative breast cancer is the most aggressive type, with the lowest survival rates, so there’s a dire need to help these patients by developing new therapies to inhibit metastasis,” says Navin, assistant professor in the MD Anderson’s Department of Genetics.

The foundation noted that Navin’s method “will have myriad clinical applications, which have value in predicting invasion, metastasis, survival and response to chemotherapy.”

The project will also examine fundamental issues in cancer metastasis.

Since its founding in 1946, the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation has invested more than $250 million in cancer research by 3,350 young scientists.

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