Khalifa Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy announces fellowship program

Focus on targeted therapies individualized to molecular abnormalities unique to each patient’s tumor


MD Anderson News Release 10/03/14

The Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has launched a fellowship program to advance the discovery and delivery of effective and accessible personalized cancer treatments. Khalifa Scholars are selected from faculty level physicians and researchers at MD Anderson and receive one to two years’ salary to support independent research projects. Khalifa Fellows are selected from among institutional trainees and junior faculty; each recipient receives support to subsidize costs associated with a specific project in personalized cancer therapy. The program was established as part of a transformative
$150 million grant by the Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation in 2011.

Two Khalifa Scholars and four Khalifa Fellows have been selected as recipients of the inaugural awards:

· Lauren Byers, M.D., Khalifa Scholar, assistant professor, Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology

· Humaid Al-Shamsi, M.D., Khalifa Scholar, assistant professor, Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology

· Jianjun Gao, M.D., Ph.D., Khalifa Fellow, assistant professor, Genitourinary Medical Oncology

· Aubrey Carhill, M.D., Khalifa Fellow, assistant professor, Endocrine Neoplasia and Hormonal Disorders

· Mitchell Frederick, Ph.D., Khalifa Fellow, assistant professor, Head and Neck Surgery

· Ana Beatriz Korngold, postdoctoral fellow, Khalifa Fellow, Pediatrics-Research

The Khalifa Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy established the fellowship program to enhance the education, training and development of MD Anderson physician-scientists to help them excel in molecular and genomic research aimed at significantly improving cancer patient outcomes. The program is critical to MD Anderson’s success in preparing the next generation of physician-scientists to lead the field of personalized cancer care, said John Mendelsohn, M.D., director of the Khalifa Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy.

“Our goal is to identify investigators whose research aligns with our mission to provide personalized cancer therapy for all of our patients and define the new standard of patient care by improving outcomes and reducing costs,” explained Mendelsohn.

In 2011, the Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation gave MD Anderson a $150 million grant, the largest in the institution’s history and the largest single contribution from a living individual or family foundation to a Texas Medical Center institution or any Texas university.

The President of the United Arab Emirates Foundation awarded the grant to enable MD Anderson to make significant advances in personalized cancer therapies and accelerate the pace of pancreatic cancer research.

“The generosity of the Khalifa Foundation enables us to maximize the potential of these innovative scholars and fellows. The ultimate goal is to provide patients with personalized, more effective care,” said Robert Wolff, M.D., professor and ad interim chair of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology. Wolff holds the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Distinguished University Chair of Medical Oncology, Cancer Medicine. “Their research will enhance our efforts to determine the specific genetic and molecular abnormalities in each patient’s cancer and to prescribe the appropriate therapy that targets those abnormalities.”

The foundation’s gift is funding the construction of the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Building for Personalized Cancer Care, a 600,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art building nearing completion on approximately five acres of MD Anderson’s main campus. The Zayed Building for Personalized Cancer Care will integrate delivery of basic and clinical research to support personalized cancer care, housing the Khalifa Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy and the Sheikh Ahmed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research