The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation in New York City has announced grants totaling $5 million in support of patient-oriented research that is critical to finding cures for cancer.
The foundation named five early-career physician-scientists as its 2019 Damon Runyon Clinical Investigators, with each receiving $600,000 over three years to develop their projects as well as up to $100,000 to repay their outstanding medical school debt. To better support physicians capable of translating scientific discovery into breakthroughs for patients, the foundation increased its funding for the program this year by 33 percent.
The 2019 Damon Runyon Clinical Investigators are Karuna Ganesh (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center), who is growing colorectal cancer cells as three-dimensional "organoids" to study how such cells acquire the ability to spread and grow outside their organ of origin; Jennifer M. Kalish (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia), who is working to identify pathways that can be targeted for new treatments for Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome and other cancers with epigenetic changes; David G. McFadden (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center), whose work is focused on how metabolism is altered in Hürthle cell carcinoma and how to target altered mitochondrial metabolism in cancers with such genetic mutations; Matthew G. Oser (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston), who will use xenograft models and a genetically engineered mouse model to identify new enzymes required for neuroendocrine differentiation and to develop targeted therapies for small cell lung cancer; and Kavita Y. Sarin (Stanford University), who is working to identify the genetic mechanisms that contribute to a patient's susceptibility to basal cell cancer.
The foundation also awarded Continuation Grants, which provide two additional years of support, to five Damon Runyon Clinical Investigators who are approaching the end of their awards.
"The quality of research proposed by our new Clinical Investigators is exceptionally strong. We are thrilled to be funding brave and bold scientists who are taking risks to experimentally address the most important questions in cancer research," said Damon Runyon president and CEO Yung S. Lie. "We are helping to launch the careers of tomorrow's brightest cancer researchers."