MD Anderson announces 2018 Andrew Sabin Family Fellows

Eight awardees to pursue innovative cancer research through $100,000 two-year fellowships

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has named eight researchers to the third annual class of Andrew Sabin Family Fellows. As part of the Andrew Sabin Family Fellowship Program, each researcher will receive $100,000 in funding over two years. The Andrew Sabin Family Foundation established the program through a $30 million endowment to encourage creativity, innovation and highly impactful cancer research in four categories: basic science, clinical, physician-scientist, and population and quantitative science.

“By generously funding up to eight fellowships each year, the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation nurtures some of the best and brightest young researchers in our collective fight against cancer,” said Peter WT Pisters, M.D., president of MD Anderson. “We are grateful for this ongoing support and the foundation’s role in advancing potentially lifesaving and practice-changing research.” 

A luncheon today gave the newly named fellows the opportunity to share their passion for Making Cancer History® with Andrew Sabin, a member of the MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors who advocates on a national level for increased cancer research funding. Also in attendance were members of the 2016 and 2017 classes of Sabin Family Fellows as well as faculty mentors.

The 2018 awardees and their areas of focus are:  

  • Jianjun Gao, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, Genitourinary Medical Oncology: study of combination therapy with immune checkpoint blockade and chemotherapy for MTAP-deficient metastatic bladder cancer
  • Nitin Jain, M.D., assistant professor, Leukemia: a non-chemotherapy approach to treating chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • Filip Janku, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, Investigational Cancer Therapeutics: studying mechanisms of resistance to treat gastrointestinal stromal tumors more effectively
  • Pawel Mazur, Ph.D., assistant professor, Experimental Radiation Oncology: a quantitative multiplexed platform for molecular dissection of pancreatic cancer progression and drug resistance
  • Florian Muller, Ph.D., assistant professor, Cancer Systems Imaging: validating the hypothesis that activating T cells helps destroy certain brain tumors treated with inhibitors of the glycolytic enzyme enolase
  • Jing Ning, Ph.D., associate professor, Biostatistics: statistical methods to improve risk assessment and dynamic prediction using multiple and longitudinal biomarkers
  • Liuqing Yang, Ph.D., assistant professor, Molecular and Cellular Oncology: bringing long non-coding RNA targeted therapy to the forefront of triple negative breast cancer treatment
  • Jianjun Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology: molecular and immune evolution of pre-neoplastic lung lesions

An avid environmentalist, conservationist and wildlife enthusiast, Sabin resides in East Hampton, New York. He is president of Sabin Metal Corporation, the largest privately owned precious metals refiner and recycler in the nation.

“It was invigorating to congratulate eight new fellows and wish them all the best in their research endeavors as we applauded the outstanding work of the 2016 and 2017 fellows,” said Sabin. “These brilliant minds represent the future and embody our dream of a world free of this terrible disease. My family and I are honored to play a role in advancing MD Anderson’s mission to end cancer.”