Seven postdoctoral research fellows who represent some of the country’s best cancer research trainees visited MD Anderson in June to participate in a unique new program that showcases young scientific talent.
The program, titled the “Symposium on the Future of Cancer Science,” brings outstanding postdoctoral fellows from the country’s top institutions to MD Anderson, where they meet department heads and faculty, tour MD Anderson and the Texas Medical Center, and each present their research in a 40-minute lecture.
“This is a new approach to introduce exceptional trainees to the MD Anderson community, and for the MD Anderson community to network with future leaders in the field,” said Helen Piwnica-Worms, Ph.D., vice provost of science. “I don’t know of any other institution offering such a program.”
To identify this year’s inaugural invitees, chairs of MD Anderson’s basic and laboratory science departments worked together, contacting their colleagues at research institutions across the country to ask, “Who are your most gifted and creative postdoctoral fellows?”
Invitations were sent to trainees judged to have outstanding early career research accomplishments and who also demonstrated promise for continued research excellence.
This year’s participating fellows and their presentations were (top left to bottom right):
Brooke Emerling, Ph.D., Weill Cornell Medical College, “CDCP1 and P15P4K: The Achilles' Heel of Cancers”
Jessie Guo, Ph.D., Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, “Role of Autophagy in Lung Cancer Metabolism”
Dung-Fang Lee, Ph.D., Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, “Modeling Familial Cancer with Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells”
Costas Lyssiotis, Ph.D., Weill Cornell Medical College, “Defining Metabolic Vulnerabilities in Pancreatic Cancer”
Kunal Rai, Ph.D., MD Anderson Cancer Center, “Functional Epigenomics of Melanoma Progression”
Neville Sanjana, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “Genome-scale CRISPR-Cas9 Screening: Technology Development and Applications”
Tsukasa Shibue, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “Deciphering the Mechanisms that Govern the Proliferation of Disseminated Tumor Cells”
The keynote lecture, “Modeling Cancer, Translating Discovery,” was delivered by MD Anderson President Ron DePinho, M.D.
“This was a great venue where MD Anderson faculty became acquainted with the participants and their research, and the participants learned more about MD Anderson,” said Piwnica-Worms. “The symposium accomplished its purpose of providing networking opportunities between MD Anderson faculty and future leaders in cancer research. In addition, it introduced these outstanding future leaders to the exceptional research community and unique opportunities at MD Anderson.”
MD Anderson will host the Symposium on the Future of Cancer Science each spring, with department heads taking turns facilitating. This year’s facilitator was Raghu Kalluri, M.D., Ph.D., chair of Cancer Biology and director of the Metastasis Research Center. Sharon Dent, Ph.D., chair of Molecular Carcinogenesis and director of the Center for Cancer Epigenetics, will facilitate next year’s symposium.