Given annually to early-career scientists whose research has the potential to significantly improve the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer, this year's awards include grants of $300,000 over two years to two individuals and one collaborative team. Each recipient will be eligible for two additional years of funding — or up to $600,000 over four years. This year, the foundation also awarded Stage 2 support to five previous awardees who demonstrated significant progress with their proposed research.
The 2017 recipients include Benjamin L. Martin and David Q. Matus (Stony Brook University), who will leverage their expertise in the strengths of two model systems — C. elegans and the zebrafish, D. rerio — to identify how regulation of the cell cycle intersects with acquisition of cell invasive behavior; Marcela V. Maus (Massachusetts General Hospital), who will explore the possibility of redesigning T-cells to fight brain tumors such as glioblastoma; and Rushika M. Perera (University of California, San Francisco), who will work to develop a novel genetically engineered mouse model that enables isolation and purification of lysosomes from a tumor growing within a host organism.
The Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovators receiving additional support include Nicholas T. Ingolia (University of California, Berkeley), who has developed innovative techniques to comprehensively profile translation in cells and proposes to apply this approach to understand the gene expression differences between normal and cancerous cells; Christopher M. Jewell (University of Maryland), who is harnessing bioengineering, immunology, and polymer design to create degradable vaccine "depots" in lymph nodes; Guillem Pratx (Stanford University), who is developing a novel method that would enable flow cytometry to measure single cell uptake of any non-fluorescent molecule; Brian H. Shirts (University of Washington) who has developed an online toolkit to help cancer patients use publicly available genealogy and networking resources to determine whether their own variants travel with cancer in their extended family; and Elçin Ünal (University of California, Berkeley), who is studying a natural developmental process called gametogenesis that can reverse cellular aging.