Rising faculty members at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center received exciting news this summer — 10 early-career researchers, scientists and physician-scientists were named to the 2021 class of Andrew Sabin Family Fellows.
“Our early-career researchers are a pivotal part of the innovative discoveries that fuel our mission to end cancer,” says Peter WT Pisters, M.D., president of MD Anderson. “We are extremely grateful for the generosity of the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation in allowing our institution to recruit and retain the highest caliber of young researchers through this fellowship program.”
Established by philanthropist Andrew Sabin through a generous $30 million commitment in 2015, the Sabin Family Fellowship program encourages creativity, innovation and impactful cancer research at MD Anderson in four areas: basic/translational science, clinical, physician-scientist, and population and quantitative science.
“Researchers at MD Anderson are unmatched in their ability to develop bold tactics aimed at tackling cancer,” says Sabin, a senior member of the MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors who has served on the board since 2005. “My hope is that through our support, we can inspire and assist these brilliant minds in their dedicated work to end cancer.”
Each Sabin Family Fellow will receive $100,000 over two years. Selections were based on a competitive external review process.
2021 Andrew Sabin Family Fellows
The 2021 class of Sabin Family Fellows comprises the following 10 faculty:
- Francesca Cole, Ph.D., associate professor, Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis. Her project investigates how parental chromosomes find each other within the nucleus through over 10 billion sequences.
- Michael Curran, Ph.D., associate professor, Immunology. His project aims to determine whether radiation therapy can be converted into a systemic immunity in a much larger percentage of patients.
- Yejing Ge, Ph.D., assistant professor, Cancer Biology. Her project investigates molecular mechanisms of stem cell plasticity and tackles cancer-specific targets, addressing a major challenge in cancer medicine.
- Vivek Subbiah, M.D., associate professor, Investigational Cancer Therapeutics. His project aims to design new, effective combinations that can advance clinical testing and improve patient outcomes in the use of selpercatinib — a small molecule RET inhibitor that has demonstrated promising clinical activity in Phase I trials and has been FDA approved for RET-aberrant lung and thyroid cancers.
- Ching-Wei Tzeng, M.D., associate professor, Surgical Oncology. His project uses a parallel-arm, randomized controlled trial comparing the standardized 5x-multiplier discharge opioid calculation versus a comparison of usual care with clinician-decided discharge opioid volume, after inpatient abdominal surgery with a primary goal of picking the “just right” discharge opioid volume.
- Sangeeta Goswami, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, Genitourinary Medical Oncology. Her project aims to ensure that more patients with stage IV bladder cancer benefit from immune checkpoint blockade.
- Betty Y.S. Kim, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor, Neurosurgery. Her project focuses on deciphering the impact of advanced age on the antitumor effort of immune checkpoint blockade.
- Pavlos Msaouel, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, Genitourinary Medical Oncology. His project analyzes tissue samples obtained from trials to determine mechanisms of resistance to therapy.
- Michelle Hildebrandt, Ph.D., associate professor, Lymphoma-Myeloma. Her project creates the largest Hispanic-focused multiple myeloma cohort anchored in genome-wide genotyping, clinical and follow-up information, and somatic expression profiling data to identify the unique features of multiple myeloma in Hispanics.
- Ethan Ludmir, M.D., assistant professor, Gastrointestinal Radiation Oncology. His project will develop machine-learning-based predictive models to determine which clinical trial concepts are most likely to succeed.
Since the inaugural Sabin Family Fellowship class was announced in 2016, 52 fellows have distinguished themselves among top experts in their respective fields. The work of the Sabin Family Fellows spans the cancer care continuum, from basic science to translational research to survivorship, and these faculty already are impacting the lives of patients who seek care at MD Anderson.