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Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation grants prestigious awards to 20 top young scientists

o, California, is investigating tumor-initiating cells in pediatric glioblastoma, a type of brain tumor. This rare subpopulation of cells has the unique capacity to re-establish the tumor after therapy, and is therefore a critical therapeutic target. He is using a technique called mass cytometry to determine how these cells respond to communication signals from their environment. The goal of this work is to identify drugs that specifically kill tumor-initiating cells by blocking the signaling networks that sustain their survival.

Alexey A. Soshnev, MD, PhD [HHMI Fellow] with his sponsor C. David Allis, PhD, at The Rockefeller University, New York, New York, studies how genetic information is packaged in the nucleus and how such packaging is interpreted by the cellular machinery. Changes in nuclear architecture may simultaneously affect the function of thousands of genes and are a hallmark of cancer. This research focuses on a family of small nuclear proteins termed "linker histones," which are thought to orchestrate higher-order folding of DNA in the nucleus. Understanding the molecular connection between the nuclear architecture and gene regulation will shed new light on the processes underlying oncogenic transformation.

Rohith K. Srivas, PhD, with his sponsor Michael P. Snyder, PhD, at Stanford University, Stanford, California, is studying the changes in the composition and function of bacteria inhabiting the human gut (microbiome). The microbiome plays an extensive role in modulating host metabolism and inflammation, which when disrupted can lead to diseases such as cancer. By tracking changes in the gut microbiome of patients undergoing drastic weight loss, this research will map the dynamics of host-microbiome connections, potentially highlighting strategies for modifying the microbiome to treat metabolic disorders and reduce the risk of gastric and colon cancers.

Chenxi Tian, PhD, with her sponsor Richard O. Hynes, PhD, at Massachuse

Contact: Yung S. Lie, Ph.D.
Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation

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