Eight of MD Anderson Cancer Center's top young researchers have been named Andrew Sabin Family Fellows and will receive $100,000 over two years to pursue creative, independent thinking and high-risk, high-impact research.
In late 2015, Andrew Sabin, of East Hampton, N.Y., and the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation committed $30 million to establish an endowment funding the Andrew Sabin Family Fellowship Program, which is designed to support the novel work of world-class cancer researchers in four categories: basic science, clinical, physician-scientist and population and quantitative science. Eight cancer research fellowships providing $100,000 over two years are to be awarded annually.
The inaugural recipients, selected among 65 applicants through a rigorous peer-review process, are:
- Ken Chen, Ph.D., assistant professor, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology: Chen is involved in analyzing The Cancer Genome Atlas and the 1000 Genomes project data and has helped develop novel methods for precise characterization of heterogeneous cancer genomes and precision oncology.
- David Hui, M.D., assistant professor, Palliative, Rehabilitation and Integrative Medicine and General Oncology: Hui focuses on cancer-related dyspnea (difficult or labored breathing) and is involved in clinical trials examining interventions such as rapid onset opioids, corticosteroids and oxygen delivery modalities.
- Nicholas Navin, Ph.D., assistant professor, Genetics and Bioinformatics: Navin aims to use single cell sequencing technologies to investigate tumor evolution in breast cancer patients and understand how they evolve resistance to chemotherapy. These studies are expected to lead to new diagnostic modalities and therapeutic targets to improve treatment and outcomes.
- Katharina Schlacher, Ph.D., assistant professor, Cancer Biology: Schlacher studies DNA replication fork protection at in-depth molecular and biological levels to provide biological insights and the framework to develop disease understanding, enabling prevention and treatment strategies.
- Ferdinandos Skoulidis, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology: Skoulidis’ research is building on his discovery of co-mutation-defined subsets of KRAS-mutant lung cancer, with a focus on identifying predictive biomarkers of response or resistance to immune checkpoint inhibitors.
- Benjamin Smith, M.D., associate professor, Radiation Oncology and Health Services Research: Smith’s research includes population-based survey studies of a statewide cohort of older breast cancer survivors and population-based research using registry and claims data.
- Cullen Taniguchi, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, Radiation Oncology: Taniguchi studies hypoxia (low oxygen levels) to find therapies that protect normal tissue from chemotherapy and radiation damage without compromising tumor kill. These pathways could be exploited to prevent tumors from growing and spreading.
- Shannon Westin, M.D., assistant professor, Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine: Westin’s research focuses on the use of novel agents to treat gynecologic malignancies and the use of biomarkers to predict response and resistance to these therapies. She is the director of Phase I trials in the Gynecologic Center.
For more on the Sabin gift, visit MD Anderson's website.