MD Anderson Cancer Center has named eight innovative researchers to the second annual class of Andrew Sabin Family Fellows. The Andrew Sabin Family Fellowship Program provides $100,000 in funding per fellow over two years through a $30 million endowed gift to encourage creative, high-impact cancer research.
"It's been exciting to observe the inaugural eight fellows as their research has progressed during the first year of the Andrew Sabin Family Fellowship Program, and we're equally impressed with the 2017 class," said Andrew Sabin, a member of the MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors. "The program now nurtures 16 brilliant minds focused on finding an end to this terrible disease. My family looks forward to seeing their impact grow exponentially over the coming year. We're proud to know our gift already is making a difference for people suffering from cancer."
The Andrew Sabin Family Fellowship program awards up to eight cancer research fellowships annually to support research in four categories: basic science, clinical cancer research, physician-scientist and population and quantitative science. The generous funding over two years frees young researchers to pursue potentially practice-changing science rather than spend the bulk of their time writing grants.
Sabin, of East Hampton, New York, is president of Sabin Metal Corporation, the largest privately owned precious metals refiner and recycler in the country. An avid environmentalist, conservationist and wildlife enthusiast, he devotes much of his time and energy to advocating on a national level for increased funding for cancer research.
2017 Andrew Sabin Family Fellows
Members of the second annual class of Sabin Family Fellows and their areas of focus are:
Margarida Albuquerque Almeida Santos, Ph.D.
assistant professor, Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis
Santos focuses her research on the role of DNA repair factors, or genome guardians, in promoting tumors.
Swathi Arur, Ph.D.
associate professor, Genetics
Arur focuses her research on the interplay of RAS signaling and small RNA biogenesis enzymes in promoting tumor progression and metastasis.
Boyi Gan, Ph.D.
assistant professor, Experimental Radiation Oncology
Gan focuses his research on the role of energy sensing and metabolism in cancer.
Clifton Fuller, M.D., Ph.D.
assistant professor, Radiation Oncology
Fuller focuses his research on developing and implementing "Big Data" approaches to imaging methodologies to treat head and neck cancers more effectively.
Chad Huff, Ph.D.
assistant professor, Epidemiology
Huff focuses his research on understanding human evolution and the genetic basis of disease through statistical, computational and population genetics.
Eugene Koay, M.D., Ph.D.
assistant professor, Radiation Oncology
Koay focuses his research on developing and validating a method using CT scans to measure response in pancreatic cancer patients.
assistant professor, Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition
Rhim focuses his research on how precancerous pancreatic lesions become cancer and tumors become therapy-resistant through mutations.
Jennifer Wargo, M.D.
associate professor, Surgical Oncology and Genomic Medicine
Wargo focuses her research on delineating the role of the gut microbiome in modulating responses to cancer immunotherapy.
Andrew Sabin meets with newly named fellows to learn more about their
hopes and aspirations before touring a working laboratory at
MD Anderson. Photo by Adolfo Chavez III.
Inaugural Sabin Family Fellows
Report progress in cancer research
From basic science to better decision-making tools, eight young oncologists, now in their second year as Andrew Sabin Family Fellows, are blazing new trails in their various fields. The inaugural fellows, announced in April 2016, say the funds have enabled them to pursue innovative projects aimed at making a difference for cancer patients and their families everywhere.
We asked: What has your Andrew Sabin Family Fellowship enabled you to accomplish?
"Looking more closely at the dark region of human genomes to identify genetic variants that cannot be identified by current technologies but are particularly important to tumor development."
Ken Chen, Ph.D., associate professor, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
"Conduct a project that examines the use of high flow oxygen and air to relieve shortness of breath, or air hunger, in cancer patients, a common symptom for which few treatment options are available."
David Hui, M.D., associate professor, Palliative, Rehabilitation and Integrative Medicine and General Oncology
"Pursue an exciting new project that will involve applying single-cell DNA sequencing technologies to breast cancer patients to understand how individual tumor cells evolve resistance to chemotherapy."
Nicholas Navin, Ph.D., associate professor, Genetics and Bioinformatics
"Further my study of DNA replication fork protection at in-depth molecular and biological levels to learn more about its potential as a cancer suppression mechanism across many different cancers."
Katharina Schlacher, Ph.D., assistant professor, Cancer Biology
"Extend my work on the role of co-occurring genetic events in KRAS-mutant lung adenocarcinoma, a prevalent and difficult-to-treat molecular subtype of non-small cell lung cancer."
Ferdinandos Skoulidis, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology
"Develop a project to promote personalized decision-making between mastectomy and breast reconstruction or lumpectomy followed by whole-breast irradiation for women with early breast cancer."
Benjamin Smith, M.D., associate professor, Radiation Oncology and Health Services Research
"Pursue an exciting project that seeks to reduce toxicity from chemotherapy and radiation treatments to improve outcomes in our cancer patients."
Cullen Taniguchi, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, Radiation Oncology
"Evaluate which patients may benefit most from therapies targeting p53, the most common molecular aberration in ovarian cancer and a number of other advanced solid tumors."
Shannon Westin, M.D., associate professor, Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine