December 6, 2014 > New immunotherapy effective for Hodgkin’s lymphoma as well as melanoma

John M. Timmerman, MD (Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator ‘05-‘10) of University of California, Los Angeles, Gordon J. Freeman, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ‘79-‘81), of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, and colleagues, reported that an immunotherapy drug called Opdivo/nivolumab, which inhibits the PD-1 pathway, is effective in treatment of relapsed or refractory Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  In a Phase I clinical trial of 23 patients with Hodgkin’s lymphoma treated with the drug, the rate of progression-free survival was 86%. The results were presented at the 56th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) and published in The New England Journal of Medicine.  The US FDA subsequently approved the drug for treatment of metastatic melanoma and also granted it Breakthrough Therapy Designation in relapsed Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Click here and here for more.


November 19, 2014 > Genetic mutations predict response to immunotherapy

Jedd D. Wolchok, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon-Lilly Clinical Investigator ‘03-‘08) and colleagues at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, reported a key discovery that explains why some patients respond to Yervoy/ipilimumab, an immunotherapy drug, while others do not. They found that the cancer cells from patients who respond to the drug carry a high number of genetic mutations—some of which make tumors more visible to the immune system, and therefore easier to fight. In the future, the researchers hope to develop a diagnostic test to detect the mutations in melanoma patients, which could help doctors to make more effective treatment decisions. This study was published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Click here for more.


Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Announces New Physician-Scientist Training Award

New York, NY (November 17, 2014) – To help increase the number of physician-scientists, the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation (Damon Runyon) has created a new award, the Damon Runyon Physician-Scientist Training Award, which will provide physicians who have earned an MD degree and completed clinical specialty fellowship training the opportunity to gain the research skills they need to work as investigators.    

Interdisciplinary teamwork is an essential component of the most effective biomedical research, particularly translational research, and having a strong physician-scientist on a research team can help ensure that the most promising and applicable discoveries progress quickly and successfully from bench to bedside, to benefit patients suffering from serious disease. The role of physician-scientists in biomedical research has been called pivotal and irreplaceable, but their numbers are dwindling just when they are needed most, particularly in cancer research, as the number of cancer cases is projected to increase by 45 percent in the next fifteen years and elevate cancer to the leading cause of death in America.    

“Too often, doctors who are ‘late bloomers,’ who discover their passion for research after they begin medical school, find it is too late to join an MD-PhD program or otherwise acquire the experience they need to pursue a research career,” said Lorraine W. Egan, president and CEO of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation. “Physicians have a huge contribution to make to scientific research but often lack the opportunity and the grant support needed to put them on a research track. We felt it was important to create that opportunity and hope that other foundations and funders will want to do the same.”

The Damon Runyon Physician-Scientist Training Award is a pilot program which will award up to three awards per year initially, beginning in July 2015. Each award will provide four years of significant salary support and research expenses as well as retiring up to $100,000 of any medical school debt still owed by an award recipient. (The average medical school tuition debt is more than $150,000.) Because the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation acknowledges that fellowship-qualified physicians are at a time of life when they may be supporting families, it seeks to address the financial disincentives that may deter some physicians from pursuing a research career, and therefore provides a considerably higher stipend than most research fellowships—$100,000 in the first year, with increases of $10,000 per year over the next three years.

“Physician-scientists have the unique capacity to blend their insights from treating patients and working in the laboratory in a way that enables and accelerates medical advances,” said Yung S. Lie, PhD, Deputy Director and Chief Scientific Officer of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation. “If the present shortage of physician-scientists continues, we risk a situation in which some major laboratory research discoveries may not reach patients at all, and that would represent a real crisis in cancer research.”


About the Foundation

The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation provides funding to young scientists to pursue innovative cancer research. The Foundation’s goals are to identify and fund the best and brightest early-career scientists in cancer research, enable risk-taking on bold new ideas, and accelerate the translation of scientific discoveries into new diagnostic tools and treatments. Damon Runyon is currently funding more than 150 scientists at leading medical centers and research institutions.

100% of all donations to the Foundation are used to support scientific research. Its administrative and fundraising costs are paid from its Damon Runyon Broadway Tickets Service and endowment.

For more information visit

October 31, 2014 > Damon Runyon alumni play key roles in Ebola fight

Two former Damon Runyon Fellows are making key contributions to the fight to stem the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

During her Damon Runyon Fellowship, Pardis C. Sabeti, MD, DPhil, studied how natural selection drives the evolution of diseases like cancer. This summer, Pardis led a team that sequenced the genome of the current Ebola virus from affected individuals in Sierra Leone, tracing the spread of the outbreak back to its origin. Her team has released the sequencing data for use by researchers around the world in hopes that open access to the virus’ genetic code will speed breakthroughs in treatment and vaccines. In addition, Dr. Sabeti has been a vocal advocate for researchers and healthcare workers on the front lines of the epidemic, urging governments, international organizations, and researchers around the world to find new ways of collaborating to stop the outbreak.

Read about Dr. Sabeti’s work in The New Yorker and The New York Times.

Mark Murray, PhD, CEO of Tekmira Pharmaceuticals, has led his company in developing an experimental Ebola treatment. Called TKM-Ebola, the treatment targets virus proteins using silencing RNAs, potentially interfering with Ebola’s ability to replicate itself in the body. Several healthcare workers have received the experimental drug after contracting the virus, and the FDA recently granted the company expanded access permission to test the drug for potential wider use in combating the outbreak.

Read about TKM-Ebola’s development in the Wall Street Journal and The International Business Times.


New Discoveries eNewsletter: Oct - Dec 2014

Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation | New Discoveries Newsletter

If you are unable to see this eNewsletter properly, click here for the online version

Damon Runyon Logo
October – December 2014

Damon Runyon Newsletter

Dear Damon Runyon Scientists,

Happy holidays from all of us at Damon Runyon! We wish you a healthy and successful new year. 

A few weeks ago, the ASCO Post (a publication of the American Society of Clinical Oncology) featured an op-ed piece by Damon Runyon President and CEO Lorraine Egan, entitled “Why Physician-Scientists Are Indispensable to Cancer Research.”  The op-ed describes why it is urgent that we take action to enable more doctors to follow this important career path and describes the launch of our new Physician-Scientist Training Award.

Our Scientific Committees met this fall to select the newest awardees of the Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award, Fellowship Award and Dale F. Frey Award for Breakthrough Scientists. Stay tuned for the announcement of these new awardees in January.

In the meantime, you can watch videos of some of our Damon Runyon Scientists at Please pass them on to your family and friends.

Please see below for the latest update on exciting news and findings from your fellow Damon Runyon scientists – current and former. These are just the publications and awards that we are aware of, so we apologize if we have not included your work.  Lay summaries of some of this work are posted on the News page of our website, along with additional news about our Scientific Committee and Board members.  

Thanks again to those of you who have sent us updates on your recent progress. Please continue to stay in touch.

Best regards,

Yung S. Lie, PhD
Deputy Director and Chief Scientific Officer
Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation
One Exchange Plaza
55 Broadway, Suite 302
New York, NY 10006


Holiday wishes from Lorraine Egan, our President and CEO:


Thank you for your commitment to innovative science and improving human health.  We take great pride in each of the 3,460+ scientists whose careers we helped launch over the past 68 years.  Your impact is immeasurable.  This year, we are increasing our investment in new generations of top scientists by 33% to ensure that we keep the best talent in science.  We hope you will join us to achieve this important goal by donating to Damon Runyon this year.  As always, 100% of your donation will be used to support someone very much like you – a brilliant mind dedicated to discovery and breakthroughs.

All our best for a happy and healthy 2015,



Like us on Facebook!

 Join our LinkedIn group for Damon Runyon Scientists.


Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator Award
Next application deadline: February 17, 2015

Accelerating Cancer Cures Research Symposium
March 3, 2015
Hosted by Eli Lilly, New York, NY

Damon Runyon Fellowship Award
Next application deadline: March 16, 2015

Damon Runyon-Sohn Pediatric Cancer Fellowship Award
Next application deadline: March 16, 2015 





2014 Grand Prize winner of theScience & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists:

Liron Bar-Peled (Fellow ’14-’16),The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla




Scott Armstrong, MD, PhD (Sohn Committee Member, Clinical Inestigator ‘03-‘08), Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York and James Bradner, MD (Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator ’10-’13), Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston
AF10 Regulates Progressive H3K79 Methylation and HOX Gene Expression in Diverse AML Subtypes.Deshpande AJ, Deshpande A, Sinha AU, Chen L, Chang J, Cihan A, Fazio M, Chen CW, Zhu N, Koche R, Dzhekieva L, Ibáñez G, Dias S, Banka D, Krivtsov A, Luo M, Roeder RG, Bradner JE, Bernt KM, Armstrong SA. Cancer Cell. 2014 Dec 8;26(6):896-908. doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2014.10.009.

James E. Bradner, MD (Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator ’10-’13), Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston
Biased multicomponent reactions to develop novel bromodomain inhibitors. McKeown MR, Shaw DL, Fu H, Liu S, Xu X, Marineau JJ, Huang Y, Zhang X, Buckley DL, Kadam A, Zhang Z, Blacklow SC, Qi J, Zhang W, Bradner JE. J Med Chem. 2014 Nov 13;57(21):9019-27. doi: 10.1021/jm501120z.

Pre-clinical analysis of changes in intra-cellular biochemistry of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) cells due to c-Myc silencing. Rajagopalan V, Vaidyanathan M, Janardhanam VA, Bradner JE. Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2014 Oct;34(7):1059-69. doi: 10.1007/s10571-014-0083-4.

Ken Cadwell, PhD (Dale Frey Scientist ’11-’12, Fellow ’08-’10), New York University School of Medicine, New York
An enteric virus can replace the beneficial function of commensal bacteria. Kernbauer E, Ding Y, Cadwell K. Nature. 2014 Nov 19. doi: 10.1038/nature13960.

Pedro Batista, PhD (Fellow ’11-’14) and Howard Chang, MD, PhD (Scholar ’05-’08), Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford
m(6)A RNA Modification Controls Cell Fate Transition in Mammalian Embryonic Stem Cells. Batista PJ, Molinie B, Wang J, Qu K, Zhang J, Li L, Bouley DM, Lujan E, Haddad B, Daneshvar K, Carter AC, Flynn RA, Zhou C, Lim KS, Dedon P, Wernig M, Mullen AC, Xing Y, Giallourakis CC, Chang HY. Cell Stem Cell. 2014 Dec 4;15(6):707-19. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2014.09.019.

Karlene A. Cimprich, PhD (Fellow ’94-’97) Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford
Transcription-Coupled Nucleotide Excision Repair Factors Promote R-Loop-Induced Genome Instability. Sollier J, Stork CT, García-Rubio ML, Paulsen RD, Aguilera A, Cimprich KA. Mol Cell. 2014 Nov 25. pii: S1097-2765(14)00830-2. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2014.10.020.

Colleen Delaney, MD, MSc (Clinical Investigator ’07-’12) Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle

One-unit versus two-unit cord-blood transplantation for hematologic cancers. Wagner JE Jr, Eapen M, Carter S, Wang Y, Schultz KR, Wall DA, Bunin N, Delaney C, Haut P, Margolis D, Peres E, Verneris MR, Walters M, Horowitz MM, Kurtzberg J; Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network. N Engl J Med. 2014 Oct 30;371(18):1685-94. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1405584.

Enhanced generation of cord blood hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells by culture with StemRegenin1 and Delta1(Ext-IgG.).Dahlberg A, Brashem-Stein C, Delaney C, Bernstein ID. Leukemia. 2014 Oct;28(10):2097-101. doi: 10.1038/leu.2014.181.

Steven F. Dowdy, PhD (Fellow ’90-’93), University of California, San Diego
Efficient delivery of RNAi prodrugs containing reversible charge-neutralizing phosphotriester backbone modifications. Meade BR, Gogoi K, Hamil AS, Palm-Apergi C, Berg Av, Hagopian JC, Springer AD, Eguchi A, Kacsinta AD, Dowdy CF, Presente A, Lönn P, Kaulich M, Yoshioka N, Gros E, Cui XS, Dowdy SF. Nat Biotechnol. 2014 Dec;32(12):1256-61. doi: 10.1038/nbt.3078.

Charles G. Drake, MD, PhD (Clinical Investigator ’04-’09), The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore
Lymphocyte Activation Gene 3 (LAG-3) Modulates the Ability of CD4 T-cells to Be Suppressed In Vivo. Durham NM, Nirschl CJ, Jackson CM, Elias J, Kochel CM, Anders RA, Drake CG (2014) PLoS ONE 9(11): e109080. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0109080

Guido Franzoso, MD, PhD (Scholar ’00-’02), Imperial College, London
Cancer-selective targeting of the NF-κB survival pathway with GADD45β/MKK7 inhibitors.Tornatore L, Sandomenico A, Raimondo D, Low C, Rocci A, Tralau-Stewart C, Capece D, D’Andrea D, Bua M, Boyle E, van Duin M, Zoppoli P, Jaxa-Chamiec A, Thotakura AK, Dyson J, Walker BA, Leonardi A, Chambery A, Driessen C, Sonneveld P, Morgan G, Palumbo A, Tramontano A, Rahemtulla A, Ruvo M, Franzoso G. Cancer Cell. 2014 Oct 13;26(4):495-508. doi: 10.1016/j.ccr.2014.07.027.

Chuan-Hsiang Huang, PhD (Fellow ’09-’12), The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore
Evolutionarily conserved coupling of adaptive and excitable networks mediates eukaryotic chemotaxis. Tang M, Wang M, Shi C, Iglesias PA, Devreotes PN, Huang CH. Nat Commun. 2014 Oct 27;5:5175. doi: 10.1038/ncomms6175.

Calvin H. Jan, PhD (Fellow ’11-’14), University of California, San Francisco
Principles of ER cotranslational translocation revealed by proximity-specific ribosome profiling. Jan CH, Williams CC, Weissman JS. Science. 2014 Nov 7;346(6210):1257521. doi: 10.1126/science.1257521

Kevin B. Jones, MD (Clinical Investigator ’12-’15) University of Utah, Salt Lake City
Modeling alveolar soft part sarcomagenesis in the mouse: a role for lactate in the tumor microenvironment. Goodwin ML, Jin H, Straessler K, Smith-Fry K, Zhu JF, Monument MJ, Grossmann A, Randall RL, Capecchi MR, Jones KB. Cancer Cell. 2014 Dec 8;26(6):851-62. doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2014.10.003.

Gabriel C. Lander, PhD (Dale Frey Scientist ’13-’15, Fellow ’10-’13), The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla
Solid-to-fluid-like DNA transition in viruses facilitates infection. Liu T, Sae-Ueng U, Li D, Lander GC, Zuo X, Jönsson B, Rau D, Shefer I, Evilevitch A. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Oct 14;111(41):14675-80. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1321637111.

Robert K. McGinty, MD, PhD (Dale Frey Scientist ‘15-‘17, Fellow ’12-’16), Pennsylvania State University, College Park
Crystal structure of the PRC1 ubiquitylation module bound to the nucleosome. McGinty RK, Henrici RC, Tan S. Nature. 2014 Oct 30;514(7524):591-6. doi: 10.1038/nature13890.

Elahe A. Mostaghel, MD, PhD (Clinical Investigator ’08-’13) and Peter S. Nelson, MD (Physician-Scientist Committee Member, Scholar ’02-’04) Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle

Prostate cancer characteristics associated with response to pre-receptor targeting of the androgen axis. Mostaghel EA, Morgan A, Zhang X, Marck BT, Xia J, Hunter-Merrill R, Gulati R, Plymate S, Vessella RL, Corey E, Higano CS, Matsumoto AM, Montgomery RB, Nelson PS. PLoS One. 2014 Oct 30;9(10):e111545. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0111545.

Peter S. Nelson, MD (Physician-Scientist Committee Member, Damon Runyon Scholar ’02, ’04) Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle
The Androgen-Regulated Protease TMPRSS2 Activates a Proteolytic Cascade Involving Components of the Tumor Microenvironment and Promotes Prostate Cancer Metastasis. Lucas JM, Heinlein C, Kim T, Hernandez SA, Malik MS, True LD, Morrissey C, Corey E, Montgomery B, Mostaghel E, Clegg N, Coleman I, Brown CM, Schneider EL, Craik C, Simon JA, Bedalov A, Nelson PS. Cancer Discov. 2014 Nov;4(11):1310-25. doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.

Jared T. Nordman, PhD (Fellow ’09-’12) Whitehead Institute, Cambridge
DNA Copy-Number Control through Inhibition of Replication Fork Progression. Nordman JT, Kozhevnikova EN, Verrijzer CP, Pindyurin AV, Andreyeva EN, Shloma VV, Zhimulev IF, Orr-Weaver TL. Cell Rep. 2014 Nov 6;9(3):841-9. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.10.005.

John M. Pagel, MD, PhD (Clinical Investigator ’05-’10), Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle
In Vivo Localization of 90Y and 177Lu Radioimmunoconjugates Using Cerenkov Luminescence Imaging in a Disseminated Murine Leukemia Model. Balkin ER, Kenoyer A, Orozco JJ, Hernandez A, Shadman M, Fisher DR, Green DJ, Hylarides MD, Press OW, Wilbur DS, Pagel JM. Cancer Res. 2014 Oct 15;74(20):5846-54. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472

Anti-CD45 Radioimmunotherapy with 90Y but Not 177Lu Is Effective Treatment in a Syngeneic Murine Leukemia Model.Orozco JJ, Balkin ER, Gooley TA, Kenoyer A, Hamlin DK, Wilbur DS, Fisher DR, Hylarides MD, Shadman M, Green DJ, Gopal AK, Press OW, Pagel JM. PLoS One. 2014 Dec 2;9(12):e113601. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0113601.


Douglas H. Phanstiel, PhD (Fellow ’12-’15), Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford

Sushi.R: flexible, quantitative and integrative genomic visualizations for publication-quality multi-panel figures. Phanstiel DH, Boyle AP, Araya CL, Snyder MP. Bioinformatics. 2014 Oct;30(19):2808-10. doi: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btu379.


Genome-wide map of regulatory interactions in the human genome. Heidari N, Phanstiel DH, He C, Grubert F, Jahanbani F, Kasowski M, Zhang MQ, Snyder MP. Genome Res. 2014 Sep 16. pii: gr.176586.114.

Julien Sage, PhD (Fellowship Committee Member, Scholar ’05-’07), Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford

Inhibition of Pluripotency Networks by the Rb Tumor Suppressor Restricts Reprogramming and Tumorigenesis. Kareta MS, Gorges LL, Hafeez S, Benayoun BA, Marro S, Zmoos AF, Cecchini MJ, Spacek D, Batista LF, O’Brien M, Ng YH, Ang CE, Vaka D, Artandi SE, Dick FA, Brunet A, Sage J, Wernig M. Cell Stem Cell. 2014 Nov 13. pii: S1934-5909(14)00470-6. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2014.10.019.


Alice T. Shaw, MD, PhD (Fellow ’04-’05), Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston

Crizotinib in ROS1-rearranged non-small-cell lung cancer. Shaw AT, Ou SH, Bang YJ, Camidge DR, Solomon BJ, Salgia R, Riely GJ, Varella-Garcia M, Shapiro GI, Costa DB, Doebele RC, Le LP, Zheng Z, Tan W, Stephenson P, Shreeve SM, Tye LM, Christensen JG, Wilner KD, Clark JW, Iafrate AJ. N Engl J Med. 2014 Nov 20;371(21):1963-71. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1406766.


Two Novel ALK Mutations Mediate Acquired Resistance to the Next-Generation ALK Inhibitor Alectinib.Katayama R, Friboulet L, Koike S, Lockerman EL, Khan TM, Gainor JF, Iafrate AJ, Takeuchi K, Taiji M, Okuno Y, Fujita N, Engelman JA, Shaw AT. Clin Cancer Res. 2014 Nov 15;20(22):5686-96. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.


Michael J. Smanski, PhD (Dale Frey Scientist ‘15-‘17, Fellow ’12-’14), University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

Functional optimization of gene clusters by combinatorial design and assembly. Smanski MJ, Bhatia S, Zhao D, Park Y, B A Woodruff L, Giannoukos G, Ciulla D, Busby M, Calderon J, Nicol R, Gordon DB, Densmore D, Voigt CA. Nat Biotechnol. 2014 Nov 24. doi: 10.1038/nbt.3063.


John M. Timmerman, MD (Clinical Investigator ’05-’10), University of California, Los Angeles

PD-1 Blockade with Nivolumab in Relapsed or Refractory Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Ansell SM, Lesokhin AM, Borrello I, Halwani A, Scott EC, Gutierrez M, Schuster SJ, Millenson MM, Cattry D, Freeman GJ, Rodig SJ, Chapuy B, Ligon AH, Zhu L, Grosso JF, Kim SY, Timmerman JM, Shipp MA, Armand P.  N Engl J Med. 2014 Dec 6.

Jedd D. Wolchok, MD, PhD (Clinical Investigator ’03-’08), Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York

Genetic Basis for Clinical Response to CTLA-4 Blockade in Melanoma. Snyder A, Makarov V, Merghoub T, Yuan J, Zaretsky JM, Desrichard A, Walsh LA, Postow MA, Wong P, Ho TS, Hollmann TJ, Bruggeman C, Kannan K, Li Y, Elipenahli C, Liu C, Harbison CT, Wang L, Ribas A, Wolchok JD, Chan TA. N Engl J Med. 2014 Nov 19.


Catherine J. Wu, MD (Clinical Investigator ’07-’12), Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston

Locally disordered methylation forms the basis of intratumor methylome variation in chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Landau DA, Clement K, Ziller MJ, Boyle P, Fan J, Gu H, Stevenson K, Sougnez C, Wang L, Li S, Kotliar D, Zhang W, Ghandi M, Garraway L, Fernandes SM, Livak KJ, Gabriel S, Gnirke A, Lander ES, Brown JR, Neuberg D, Kharchenko PV, Hacohen N, Getz G, Meissner A, Wu CJ. Cancer Cell. 2014 Dec 8;26(6):813-25. doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2014.10.012.

Joanna Wysocka, PhD (Fellow ‘04-‘06) and Howard Chang, MD, PhD (Scholar ’05-’08), Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford

RNA helicase DDX21 coordinates transcription and ribosomal RNA processing. Calo E, Flynn RA, Martin L, Spitale RC, Chang HY, Wysocka J. Nature. 2014 Nov 24. doi: 10.1038/nature13923.

Mark J. Zylka, PhD (Fellow ’00-’03), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Topoisomerase 1 inhibition reversibly impairs synaptic function. Mabb AM, Kullmann PH, Twomey MA, Miriyala J, Philpot BD, Zylka MJ. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Dec 2;111(48):17290-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1413204111.

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New Discoveries eNewsletter:  July - Oct 2014

Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation | New Discoveries Newsletter


Damon Runyon Logo
July – October 2014

Damon Runyon Newsletter

Dear Damon Runyon Scientists,

We’ve just returned from our fourteenth annual Fellows’ Retreat in Beverly, Massachusetts. Seventy-six first- and third-year Fellows and Damon Runyon-Sohn Pediatric Fellows joined us for a terrific conference. Our Damon Runyon Alumnus Speaker was Matthew L. Meyerson, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ’95-’98), Professor of Pathology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School; Senior Associate Member, Broad Institute. The Keynote Speakers were Stephen H. Friend, MD, PhD, President and Director of Sage Bionetworks, and Gustavo A. Stolovitzky, PhD, Functional Genomics and Systems Biology Group at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center, and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Columbia University. We were also joined by seven members of our Fellowship Award Committee (FAC). As always, it was a huge pleasure to learn about the Fellows’ research progress and spend time with them informally as well. The FAC will meet in November to select a new class of Fellows and Dale F. Frey Scientists.

This past week, the Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award Committee met at our office in New York City to hear progress reports from our second-year Innovators and to select finalists for the 2015 class of Innovators. Stay tuned for our announcement of the new Innovators in January.

Lastly, thank you to all of you who participated in and/or supported our sixth annual Damon Runyon 5K at Yankee Stadium. It was a great success, with $575,000 raised for cancer research.

Thanks again to those of you who have sent us updates on your recent progress. Have a wonderful fall, and please continue to stay in touch.

Best regards,

Yung S. Lie, PhD
Deputy Director and Chief Scientific Officer
Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation
One Exchange Plaza
55 Broadway, Suite 302
New York, NY 10006


Damon Runyon Physician-Scientist Training Award
Application deadline: December 1, 2014

Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator Award
Next application deadline: February 17, 2015

Accelerating Cancer Cures Research Symposium
March 3, 2015

Damon Runyon Fellowship Award
Next application deadline: March 16, 2015

Damon Runyon-Sohn Pediatric Cancer Fellowship Award
Next application deadline: March 16, 2015 




Elected to the Institute of Medicine:
Todd R. Golub, MD (Damon Runyon Board Member), The Broad Institute, Cambridge

2014 William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Tumor Immunology:

Gordon J. Freeman, PhD (Fellow ’79-’81), Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston

MIT Technology Review’s list of “35 Innovators under 35”:
Emily P. Balskus, PhD (Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator ’14-’16), Harvard University, Cambridge

2014 NYSCF-Robertson Stem Cell Investigator:
Feng Zhang, PhD (Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator ’12-’14), The Broad Institute and MIT, Cambridge



Emmanuel Farber, MD, PhD (Grantee ’68-’69)



Raymond E. Moellering, PhD (Dale Frey Scientist ’14-’15, Fellow ’11-’13)
Assistant Professor
Department of Chemistry; Institute for Genomics and Systems Biology
University of Chicago

Michael J. Smanski, PhD (Fellow ’12-’14)
Assistant Professor
Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics
University of Minnesota

Sabrina L. Spencer, PhD (Fellow ’10-’13)
Assistant Professor
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Colorado, Boulder

Jesse Zalatan, PhD (Fellow ’09-’11)
Assistant Professor
Department of Chemistry
University of Washington




Ronald J. Buckanovich, MD, PhD (Clinical Investigator ’08-’11), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Combination cediranib and olaparib versus olaparib alone for women with recurrent platinum-sensitive ovarian cancer: a randomised phase 2 study.
Liu JF, Barry WT, Birrer M, Lee JM, Buckanovich RJ, Fleming GF, Rimel B, Buss MK, Nattam S, Hurteau J, Luo W, Quy P, Whalen C, Obermayer L, Lee H, Winer EP, Kohn EC, Ivy SP, Matulonis UA. Lancet Oncol. 2014 Oct;15(11):1207-14. doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(14)70391-2.

Ken Cadwell, PhD (Dale Frey Scientist ’11-’12, Fellow ’08-’10), New York University School of Medicine, New York
Autophagy Gene Atg16l1 Prevents Lethal T Cell Alloreactivity Mediated by Dendritic Cells.
Hubbard-Lucey VM, Shono Y, Maurer K, West ML, Singer NV, Ziegler CG, Lezcano C, Motta AC, Schmid K, Levi SM, Murphy GF, Liu C, Winkler JD, Amaravadi RK, Rogler G, Dickinson AM, Holler E, van den Brink MR, Cadwell K. Immunity. 2014 Oct 8. pii: S1074-7613(14)00345-8. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2014.09.011.

Kenneth Chen, MD (Sohn Fellow ’13-’17), University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas
Somatic mutations in DROSHA and DICER1 impair microRNA biogenesis through distinct mechanisms in Wilms tumours.
Rakheja D, Chen KS, Liu Y, Shukla AA, Schmid V, Chang TC, Khokhar S, Wickiser JE, Karandikar NJ, Malter JS, Mendell JT, Amatruda JF. Nat Commun. 2014 Sep 5;2:4802. doi: 10.1038/ncomms5802.

Sidi Chen, PhD (Fellow ’12-’15), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, and Feng Zhang, PhD (Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator ’12-’14), The Broad Institute and MIT, Cambridge
CRISPR-Cas9 Knockin Mice for Genome Editing and Cancer Modeling.
Platt RJ, Chen S, Zhou Y, Yim MJ, Swiech L, Kempton HR, Dahlman JE, Parnas O, Eisenhaure TM, Jovanovic M, Graham DB, Jhunjhunwala S, Heidenreich M, Xavier RJ, Langer R, Anderson DG, Hacohen N, Regev A, Feng G, Sharp PA, Zhang F. Cell. 2014 Oct 9;159(2):440-55. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.09.014.

Oscar R. Colegio, MD, PhD (Fellow ’09-’10), Yale University, New Haven
Functional polarization of tumour-associated macrophages by tumour-derived lactic acid.
Colegio OR, Chu NQ, Szabo AL, Chu T, Rhebergen AM, Jairam V, Cyrus N, Brokowski CE, Eisenbarth SC, Phillips GM, Cline GW, Phillips AJ, Medzhitov R. Nature. 2014 Sep 25;513(7519):559-63.

Damian C. Ekiert, PhD (Fellow ’12-’16), University of California, San Francisco
Structure of a PE-PPE-EspG complex from Mycobacterium tuberculosis reveals molecular specificity of ESX protein secretion.
Ekiert DC, Cox JS. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Oct 1. pii: 201409345.

Mary Williard Elting, PhD (Fellow ’13-’17), University of California, San Francisco
Force on spindle microtubule minus ends moves chromosomes.
Elting MW, Hueschen CL, Udy DB, Dumont S. J Cell Biol. 2014 Jul 21;206(2):245-56. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201401091.

Dean W. Felsher, MD, PhD (Clinical Investigator ’03-’08), Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford
Activation of Cre Recombinase Alone Can Induce Complete Tumor Regression.
Li Y, Choi PS, Casey SC, Felsher DW. PLOS ONE. 2014 Sep 10;9(9): e107589. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0107589

Maria Genander, PhD (Fellow ’11), and Elaine Fuchs, PhD (Fellow ’77), The Rockefeller University
BMP Signaling and Its pSMAD1/5 Target Genes Differentially Regulate Hair Follicle Stem Cell Lineages. Genander M, Cook PJ, Ramsköld D, Keyes BE, Mertz AF, Sandberg R, Fuchs E. Cell Stem Cell. 2014 Oct 8. pii: S1934-5909(14)00400-7. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2014.09.009.

Junjie U. Guo, PhD (Fellow ’13-’16), Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge
Expanded identification and characterization of mammalian circular RNAs.
Guo JU, Agarwal V, Guo H, Bartel DP. Genome Biol. 2014 Jul 29;15(7):409.

John J. Karijolich, PhD (Fellow ’12-’16), University of California, Berkeley
Kaposi’s Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus ORF45 Mediates Transcriptional Activation of the HIV-1 Long Terminal Repeat via RSK2.
Karijolich J, Zhao Y, Peterson B, Zhou Q, Glaunsinger B. J Virol. 2014 Jun 15;88(12):7024-7035. Epub 2014 Apr 9.

William Y. Kim, MD (Clinical Investigator ’09-’14), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
mTOR Inhibition Induces Compensatory, Therapeutically Targetable MEK Activation in Renal Cell Carcinoma. Bailey ST, Zhou B, Damrauer JS, Krishnan B, Wilson HL, Smith AM, Li M, Yeh JJ, Kim WY. PLoS One. 2014 Sep 2;9(9):e104413.

Serkan Kir, PhD (Fellow ’13-’16), Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston
Tumour-derived PTH-related protein triggers adipose tissue browning and cancer cachexia.
Kir S, White JP, Kleiner S, Kazak L, Cohen P, Baracos VE, Spiegelman BM. Nature. 2014 Sep 4;513(7516):100-4. doi: 10.1038/nature13528.

Moritz F. Kircher, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator ’14-’16), Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York
Guiding Brain Tumor Resection Using Surface-Enhanced Raman Scattering Nanoparticles and a Hand-Held Raman Scanner.
Karabeber H, Huang R, Iacono P, Samii JM, Pitter K, Holland EC, Kircher MF. ACS Nano. 2014 Aug 22.

Kristin A. Krukenberg, PhD (Fellow ’10-’13), Harvard Medical School, Boston
Basal Activity of a PARP1-NuA4 Complex Varies Dramatically across Cancer Cell Lines. Krukenberg KA, Jiang R, Steen JA, Mitchison TJ. Cell Rep. 2014 Sep 25;8(6):1808-18. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2014.08.009.

David Q. Matus, PhD (Fellow ’07-’10), Stony Brook University, Stony Brook
Cell division and targeted cell cycle arrest opens and stabilizes basement membrane gaps.
Matus DQ, Chang E, Makohon-Moore SC, Hagedorn MA, Chi Q, Sherwood DR. Nat Commun. 2014 Jun 13;5:4184. doi: 10.1038/ncomms5184.

Nicholas E. Navin, PhD (Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator ’13-’15), M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston
Clonal evolution in breast cancer revealed by single nucleus genome sequencing.
Wang Y, Waters J, Leung ML, Unruh A, Roh W, Shi X, Chen K, Scheet P, Vattathil S, Liang H, Multani A, Zhang H, Zhao R, Michor F, Meric-Bernstam F, Navin NE. Nature. 2014 Aug 14;512(7513):155-60. doi: 10.1038/nature13600.

Trudy G. Oliver, PhD (Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator ’13-’15), University of Utah, Salt Lake City
Caspase-2 impacts lung tumorigenesis and chemotherapy response in vivo.
Terry MR, Arya R, Mukhopadhyay A, Berrett KC, Clair PM, Witt B, Salama ME, Bhutkar A, Oliver TG. Cell Death Differ. 2014 Oct 10. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2014.159.

Bradley L. Pentelute, PhD (Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator ’13-’15), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
Delivery of Antibody Mimics into Mammalian Cells via Anthrax Toxin Protective Antigen. Liao X, Rabideau AE, Pentelute BL. Chembiochem. 2014 Sep 22. doi: 10.1002/cbic.201402290.

Alex Pollen, PhD (Fellow ’13-’17), University of California, San Francisco
Low-coverage single-cell mRNA sequencing reveals cellular heterogeneity and activated signaling pathways in developing cerebral cortex.
Pollen AA, Nowakowski TJ, Shuga J, Wang X, Leyrat AA, Lui JH, Li N, Szpankowski L, Fowler B, Chen P, Ramalingam N, Sun G, Thu M, Norris M, Lebofsky R, Toppani D, Kemp DW 2nd, Wong M, Clerkson B, Jones BN, Wu S, Knutsson L, Alvarado B, Wang J, Weaver LS, May AP, Jones RC, Unger MA, Kriegstein AR, West JA. Nat Biotechnol. 2014 Oct;32(10):1053-8. doi: 10.1038/nbt.2967.

Pardis C. Sabeti, MD, DPhil (Fellow ’04-’06), Harvard University, Cambridge
Genomic surveillance elucidates Ebola virus origin and transmission during the 2014 outbreak.
Gire SK, Goba A, Andersen KG, Sealfon RS, Park DJ, Kanneh L, Jalloh S, Momoh M, Fullah M, Dudas G, Wohl S, Moses LM, Yozwiak NL, Winnicki S, Matranga CB, Malboeuf CM, Qu J, Gladden AD, Schaffner SF, Yang X, Jiang PP, Nekoui M, Colubri A, Coomber MR, Fonnie M, Moigboi A, Gbakie M, Kamara FK, Tucker V, Konuwa E, Saffa S, Sellu J, Jalloh AA, Kovoma A, Koninga J, Mustapha I, Kargbo K, Foday M, Yillah M, Kanneh F, Robert W, Massally JL, Chapman SB, Bochicchio J, Murphy C, Nusbaum C, Young S, Birren BW, Grant DS, Scheiffelin JS, Lander ES, Happi C, Gevao SM, Gnirke A, Rambaut A, Garry RF, Khan SH, Sabeti PC. Science. 2014 Sep 12;345(6202):1369-72. doi: 10.1126/science.1259657.

Jens C. Schmidt, PhD (Fellow ’13-’17), University of Colorado, Boulder
Identification of human TERT elements necessary for telomerase recruitment to telomeres.
Jens C Schmidt, Andrew B Dalby, Thomas R Cech. eLife. 2014 Oct 1;0.7554/eLife.03563

Raffaella Sordella, PhD (Damon Runyon Rachleff Innovator ’10-’12), Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor
p53Ψ is a transcriptionally inactive p53 isoform able to reprogram cells toward a metastatic-like state.
Senturk S, Yao Z, Camiolo M, Stiles B, Rathod T, Walsh AM, Nemajerova A, Lazzara MJ, Altorki NK, Krainer A, Moll UM, Lowe SW, Cartegni L, Sordella R. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Aug 12;111(32):E3287-96. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1321640111.

Matthew Vander Heiden, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon Rachleff Innovator ’11-’13, Fellow ’06-’08), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
Elevation of circulating branched-chain amino acids is an early event in human pancreatic adenocarcinoma development.
Mayers JR, Wu C, Clish CB, Kraft P, Torrence ME, Fiske BP, Yuan C, Bao Y, Townsend MK, Tworoger SS, Davidson SM, Papagiannakopoulos T, Yang A, Dayton TL, Ogino S, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci EL, Qian ZR, Rubinson DA, Ma J, Sesso HD, Gaziano JM, Cochrane BB, Liu S, Wactawski-Wende J, Manson JE, Pollak MN, Kimmelman AC, Souza A, Pierce K, Wang TJ, Gerszten RE, Fuchs CS, Vander Heiden MG, Wolpin BM. Nat Med. 2014 Oct;20(10):1193-8. doi: 10.1038/nm.3686.

Zefeng Wang, PhD (Fellow ’03-’06), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
The Splicing Factor RBM4 Controls Apoptosis, Proliferation, and Migration to Suppress Tumor Progression.
Wang Y, Chen D, Qian H, Tsai YS, Shao S, Liu Q, Dominguez D, Wang Z. Cancer Cell. 2014 Sep 8;26(3):374-89. doi: 10.1016/j.ccr.2014.07.010.

Kathryn E. Wellen, PhD (Fellow ’07-’10), University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia
Akt-dependent metabolic reprogramming regulates tumor cell histone acetylation.
Lee JV, Carrer A, Shah S, Snyder NW, Wei S, Venneti S, Worth AJ, Yuan ZF, Lim HW, Liu S, Jackson E, Aiello NM, Haas NB, Rebbeck TR, Judkins A, Won KJ, Chodosh LA, Garcia BA, Stanger BZ, Feldman MD, Blair IA, Wellen KE. Cell Metab. 2014 Aug 5;20(2):306-19.

Ian Y. Wong, PhD (Fellow ’10-’13), Brown University, Providence
Collective and individual migration following the epithelial-mesenchymal transition.
Wong IY, Javaid S, Wong EA, Perk S, Haber DA, Toner M, Irimia D. Nat Mater. 2014 Aug 17. doi: 10.1038/nmat4062.

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October 20, 2014 > Institute of Medicine elects new members

Election to the Institute of Medicine is one of the highest honors that can be earned in the fields of medicine and health.  In recognition of their outstanding achievements, members of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation community were inducted this month:

Todd R. Golub, MD (Damon Runyon Board of Directors Member, Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award Committee Member), Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Cambridge
Guillermina (Gigi) Lozano, PhD (Former Fellowship Award Committee Member), The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston
David R. Piwnica-Worms, MD, PhD (Clinical Investigator Award Committee Member), The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston

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October 14, 2014 > 2014 NYSCF-Robertson Stem Cell Investigators named

Feng Zhang, PhD (Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator ‘12-‘14) of the Broad Institute and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, is one of six promising early career scientists named as 2014 NYSCF-Robertson Stem Cell Investigators. The award is designed to support scientists engaged in novel neuroscience and cutting-edge translational stem cell research. Each Investigator will receive a generous five-year award.

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September 28, 2014 > Early sign of pancreatic cancer discovered

Matthew G. Vander Heiden, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator ‘11-‘13, Damon Runyon Fellow ‘06-‘08) of MIT, Cambridge, and colleagues, reported the discovery of a sign of the early development of pancreatic cancer – an increase in certain amino acids due to changes in metabolism. This occurs before the disease is diagnosed and symptoms appear, and the researchers hope that eventually they may be able to use this information to detect the disease earlier. These findings were published in the journal Nature Medicine.

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September 25, 2014 > New mouse model for genome editing and cancer modeling

Sidi Chen, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ‘12-‘15) and Feng Zhang, PhD (Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator ‘12-‘14) of the Broad Institute and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, developed a new mouse model that allows scientists to use the CRISPR-Cas9 system for in vivo genome editing experiments. They demonstrated the utility of the new “Cas9 mouse” model to edit multiple genes in a variety of cell types, and to model lung adenocarcinoma. The mouse has already been made available to the entire scientific community. These findings were published in the journal Cell.

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September 24, 2014 > Recruiting anthrax for drug delivery

Bradley L. Pentelute, PhD (Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator ’13-’15), and colleagues at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, used a disarmed version of the anthrax toxin to deliver two proteins known as antibody mimics, which can kill cancer cells by disrupting specific proteins inside the cells. In this study, they successfully targeted Bcr-Abl and hRaf-1, which both have known functions in cancer. This is the first demonstration of effective delivery of antibody mimics into cells, which could be applied to develop new drugs for cancer and other diseases. These findings were published in the journal ChemBioChem.

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September 8, 2014 > Splicing factor important for cancer development and metastasis

Zefeng Wang (Damon Runyon Fellow ’03-’06) of UNC School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, discovered that a protein crucial to the process of gene splicing, called RBM4, is drastically decreased in multiple forms of human cancer, including lung and breast cancers. This reduction in RBM4 results in altered gene expression, giving rise to cancer development and metastasis. Components of the splicing pathway could be potential targets for new cancer therapies. The study was published in the journal Cancer Cell.

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September 3, 2014 > Handheld scanner for accurate detection and removal of brain tumor cells

Moritz F. Kircher, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator ‘14-‘16) and colleagues at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, developed a new handheld device (“Raman scanner”) that can accurately detect cancer cells during surgery. The device resembles a laser pointer and detects nanoprobes that mark tumor cells but not normal cells. In a mouse model of glioblastoma, the scanner enabled researchers to successfully identify and remove all malignant cells in the animals’ brains. The device has the potential to move rapidly into clinical trials, eventually allowing surgeons to remove all cancer cells while sparing healthy tissue. This study was published in the journal ACS Nano.

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August 19, 2014 > 2014 Technology Review’s “35 Innovators under 35”

Emily P. Balskus, PhD (Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator ‘14-‘16) of Harvard University, Cambridge, has been named to MIT Technology Review’s list of “35 Innovators under 35” for her research focused on how gut bacteria use chemical reactions to survive.  The list is comprised of “exceptionally talented technologists whose work has great potential to transform the world.”

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August 17, 2014 > Imaging how tumor cells transition to invasion

Ian Y. Wong, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ‘10-‘13) of Brown University, Providence, and colleagues, developed a microchip that enabled cancer cells to be imaged as they migrated across a surface that mimics the tissue surrounding a tumor. They examined cells that had undergone epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), a process in which epithelial cells that stick together within a tissue, change into mesenchymal cells that can disperse and migrate individually. EMT is thought to play a role in cancer metastasis, allowing cancer cells to escape from tumor masses and colonize distant organs. This new imaging technology allows researchers to precisely measure how these cells move. Ultimately, they hope the device can be used for preliminary testing of drugs aimed at inhibiting cancer metastasis. This study was published in the journal Nature Materials.

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Improving and Expanding Our Programs


The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation is committed to identifying and supporting exceptional early career researchers to accelerate progress against cancer. We pride ourselves on being an agile organization, able to rapidly target funding to where it can be most effective.

A recent assessment of our programs conducted by leading experts in the field of cancer research allowed us to ask if we could make a greater difference in finding cures for cancer faster. Based on the results of this rigorous review, we will be increasing our support for the nation’s best cancer researchers by 33%.

In a time of declining federal funding of research, we are stepping up to protect and encourage innovative cancer research in three major ways.

Strengthening the Damon Runyon Fellowship Award

The Damon Runyon Fellowship Award supports the training of the brightest postdoctoral scientists as they embark upon their independent research careers. Postdoctoral funding allows promising scientists time to establish their own research in the labs of senior scientists, who provide vital guidance and scientific expertise.

Typical postdoctoral fellowships offer three years of funding, but most postdoctoral work requires four or more years to complete. So that our Fellows have the support they need to pursue groundbreaking research and build their careers on the cutting edge of cancer research, we are adding a fourth year to the Damon Runyon Fellowship Award. We are the first major organization to add a fourth year to our Fellowship Award.

I am thrilled. [The award] means I can simply focus 100% on science for my postdoc training period. My mentor and I appreciate the generous support from the Foundation and hope that our project can lead to significant breakthroughs in cancer research to repay the trust of the foundation and the donors.” 
- Chao Lu, PhD, Kandarian Family Fellow

At a time when the entire funding universe is stepping back, [Damon Runyon is] moving forward.” – Leo D. Wang, MD, PhD, Damon Runyon-Sohn Fellow

Read more about the Damon Runyon Fellowship Award

Training More Physicians as Researchers

Physician-scientists are the critical link between scientific discoveries and cures because they understand cancer in patients as well as in the lab.  While our Clinical Investigator Award provides established physician-scientists with the support to pursue patient-oriented research, fewer physicians are choosing research careers in the first place.

To reverse this trend and ensure that discoveries from the lab are quickly used to help patients, we are launching a new Physician-Scientist Training Award to recruit top medical school graduates to pursue cancer research careers by offering intensive training and mentorship.

The pilot class of this program will be launched in 2015.

Read more about the Physician-Scientist Training Award

Supporting Daring Ideas

The Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award encourages our scientists to explore new ideas that, if successful, could revolutionize cancer prevention, diagnosis or treatment.  The Innovation Award is specifically designed to provide funding to extraordinary early career researchers who have an innovative new idea but lack sufficient preliminary data to obtain traditional funding. It is not designed to fund incremental advances.

To make certain we are supporting projects with strong potential for high impact in the cancer field, the selection committee will assess each project after two years to see if the idea continues to show great promise.  If so, we will extend funding for an additional two years.  This will enable us to focus our investments on the projects with the highest potential for radically transforming cancer care. 

Read more about the Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award

All together, we will be increasing our investment in innovative cancer research by 33% over the next 12 months.

These changes demonstrate our belief that continual assessment and expansion of our programs will ensure that the most brilliant scientists remain committed to groundbreaking cancer research. 

August 1, 2014 > 2014 William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Tumor Immunology

Gordon J. Freeman, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ‘79-‘81), of Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, was named one of four recipients of the 2014 William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Tumor Immunology.  He is recognized for his contributions to the discovery of the programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) receptor pathway, a new immune system checkpoint that has been shown in clinical studies to be a highly promising target in cancer immunotherapy.  PD-1 inhibitor drugs are effective in treating several types of deadly cancer, including melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer, head and neck cancer, bladder cancer, and kidney cancer.

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July 30, 2014 > Single cell sequencing of breast cancer genome

Nicholas E. Navin, PhD (Nadia’s Gift Foundation Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator ’13-’15) and colleagues at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, developed a single cell sequencing tool (NUC-SEQ) that can measure genome-wide mutations in individual cancer cells. This study revealed that different subtypes of breast cancer have varied tumor diversity, and that different tumor cells grow at dramatically different speeds. These findings may have important implications for the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. This work was published in the journal Nature.

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New Discoveries eNewsletter:  May - July 2014

Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation | New Discoveries Newsletter

Damon Runyon Logo
May-July 2014

Damon Runyon Newsletter

Dear Damon Runyon Scientists,

Congratulations to the newest awardees of the Clinical Investigator, Fellowship, and the Damon Runyon-Sohn Pediatric Cancer Fellowship Awards: 29 awards were granted, totaling over $7 million.

We have more exciting news to share with you. As you know, the mission of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation is to provide today’s best young scientists with funding to pursue innovative research. After a rigorous strategic program review, upon the recommendation of our Scientific Committee, our Board of Directors recently approved increasing our award programs budget over 30%,  from $12M to $16M annually. We are pleased to announce that we are expanding existing programs as well as introducing a new pilot program for physician-scientists, all aimed to fill gaps in funding and support the best early career cancer researchers.

One very important change is that we are increasing the Damon Runyon Fellowship to a four-year award (from three years). Almost all other postdoctoral fellowships are currently three years or less. Our new award structure recognizes the reality that virtually all postdoctoral fellowship training now takes 4 to 5 years to complete, on average. In a time of declining NIH funding rates, we believe that it is increasingly important for us to provide additional sustained funding to Damon Runyon Fellows. To give you an idea of how meaningful this is to our fellows, here is one response we received from a current fellow: 

“Thank you for this amazing gift. In this increasingly uncertain funding climate, I applaud Damon Runyon in its unwavering efforts to support young scientists. Less time writing for funding directly translates into more time thinking about and performing innovative science.”

To address the continuing shortage of MDs going into research, we will be piloting a new Damon Runyon Physician-Scientist Training Award, aimed to capture “late bloomers”—young physicians who discovered a passion for cancer research during medical school or their residency, but who have not received training in scientific research methods and thus will not be competitive in seeking grant funding. The new award will provide generous funding for four years and, importantly, the ability to work with a world-class mentor who has a proven track record of training MDs to become top scientists. We will also provide funds for medical school loan repayment. We will be launching this award in the fall and will notify you of the RFA and application deadline.

We are hopeful that our programmatic changes will encourage other funders of biomedical research to follow suit with increased support and sustained commitment to early career scientists.

Our Scientific Committees are meeting this fall to select new classes of Damon Runyon Fellows, Dale F. Frey Scientists and Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovators. We are also looking forward to our Annual Fellows’ Retreat, which will take place in Beverly, Massachusetts this year.

Please see below for the latest updates from your fellow Damon Runyon scientists – current and former. These are just the publications and awards that we are aware of, so we apologize if we have not included your work. Thanks again to those of you who have sent us updates on your recent progress. Please continue to stay in touch. Enjoy the summer!

Best regards,

Yung S. Lie, PhD
Deputy Director and Chief Scientific Officer
Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation



Fellowship Award
Next application deadline: August 15

Runyon 5K
Sunday, August 3
Yankee Stadium, One East 161st Street, Bronx, New York
9:30am - 2:00pm (staggered start)

Join us for the sixth annual Runyon 5K, a unique cancer research fundraising run/walk that uses Yankee Stadium as its course.  Run or walk the concourses and ramps, climb stairs between levels, and take your own victory laps around the warning track that circles the field.  We welcome participation from you, our scientists, and please tell your family and friends!  You can also support Team Damon Runyon here.




2014 Pew-Stewart Scholars for Cancer Research:
Arvin Dar, PhD (Innovator ‘14-‘16),
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York
Agnel Sfier, PhD (Innovator ‘13-‘15), New York University School of Medicine, New York

American Society for Microbiology Career Development Grant for Postdoctoral Women:
Yanling Wang, PhD (Robert Black Fellow ‘12-‘14),
University of California, Los Angeles

2014 Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award:
Liron Bar-Peled, PhD (Lallage Feazel Wall Fellow ‘14-‘17),
Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla


The Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network
(led by Matthew M. Meyerson, MD, PhD, (Fellow ‘95-‘98), Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston)
Comprehensive molecular profiling of lung adenocarcinoma.
Nature 2014 Jul 9; doi:10.1038/nature13385.

Omar Abdel-Wahab, MD (Edward P. Evans Foundation Clinical Investigator ‘13-‘16), Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York
Hematopoietic stem cell origin of BRAFV600E mutations in hairy cell leukemia. Chung SS, Kim E, Park JH, Chung YR, Lito P, Teruya-Feldstein J, Hu W, Beguelin W, Monette S, Duy C, Rampal R, Telis L, Patel M, Kim MK, Huberman K, Bouvier N, Berger MF, Melnick AM, Rosen N, Tallman MS, Park CY, Abdel-Wahab O. Sci Transl Med. 2014 May 28;6(238):238ra71.

Frequent ASXL2 mutations in acute myeloid leukemia patients with t(8;21)/RUNX1-RUNX1T1 chromosomal translocations. Micol JB, Duployez N, Boissel N, Petit A, Geffroy S, Nibourel O, Lacombe C, Lapillonne H, Etancelin P, Figeac M, Renneville A, Castaigne S, Leverger G, Ifrah N, Dombret H, Preudhomme C, Abdel-Wahab O, Jourdan E. Blood. 2014 Jun 27. pii: blood-2014-04-571018.

Himisha Beltran, MD (Gordon Family Clinical Investigator ‘13-‘16), Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York
Aggressive variants of castration-resistant prostate cancer. Beltran H, Tomlins S, Aparicio A, Arora V, Rickman D, Ayala G, Huang J, True L, Gleave ME, Soule H, Logothetis C, Rubin MA. Clin Cancer Res. 2014 Jun 1;20(11):2846-50.

Sean Bendall, PhD (Dale Frey Scientist ‘14-‘16, Fellow ‘09-‘12), Stanford University, Stanford
Single-cell trajectory detection uncovers progression and regulatory coordination in human B cell development. Bendall SC, Davis KL, Amir el-AD, Tadmor MD, Simonds EF, Chen TJ, Shenfeld DK, Nolan GP, Pe’er D. Cell. 2014 Apr 24;157(3):714-25. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.04.005.

Michael Bittner, PhD (Fellow ‘77-‘78), Translational Genomics Research Institute, Phoenix
Mcl-1 mediates TWEAK/Fn14-induced non-small cell lung cancer survival and therapeutic response. Whitsett TG, Mathews IT, Cardone MH, Lena RJ, Pierceall WE, Bittner M, Sima C, LoBello J, Weiss GJ, Tran NL. Mol Cancer Res. 2014 Apr;12(4):550-9. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-13-0458.

Angela Brooks, PhD (Merck Fellow ‘12-‘16), Dana Farber Cancer Center, Boston
A pan-cancer analysis of transcriptome changes associated with somatic mutations in U2AF1 reveals commonly altered splicing events. Brooks AN, Choi PS, de Waal L, Sharifnia T, Imielinski M, Saksena G, Pedamallu CS, Sivachenko A, Rosenberg M, Chmielecki J, Lawrence MS, DeLuca DS, Getz G, Meyerson M. PLoS One. 2014 Jan 31;9(1):e87361.

Joseph Califano, MD (Clinical Investigator ‘01-‘06), The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore
Novel insight into mutational landscape of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Gaykalova DA, Mambo E, Choudhary A, Houghton J, Buddavarapu K, Sanford T, Darden W, Adai A, Hadd A, Latham G, Danilova LV, Bishop J, Li RJ, Westra WH, Hennessey P, Koch WM, Ochs MF, Califano JA, Sun W. PLoS One. 2014 Mar 25;9(3):e93102. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0093102.

Andrew T. Chan, MD, MPH (Clinical Investigator ‘08-‘13), Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
Aspirin and the Risk of Colorectal Cancer in Relation to the Expression of 15-Hydroxyprostaglandin Dehydrogenase (HPGD). Fink SP1, Yamauchi M, Nishihara R, Jung S, Kuchiba A, Wu K, Cho E, Giovannucci E, Fuchs CS, Ogino S, Markowitz SD, Chan AT. Sci Transl Med. 2014 Apr 23;6(233):233re2. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3008481.

A Prospective Study of Macrophage Inhibitory Cytokine-1 (MIC-1/GDF15) and Risk of Colorectal Cancer. Mehta RS1, Song M, Bezawada N, Wu K, Garcia-Albeniz X, Morikawa T, Fuchs CS, Ogino S, Giovannucci EL, Chan AT. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2014 Apr 1;106(4):dju016. doi: 10.1093/jnci/dju016. Epub 2014 Feb 24.

Andrew T. Chan, MD, MPH and Wendy Garrett MD, PhD (Fellow ‘06-‘09), Harvard School of Public Health, Boston
Relating the metatranscriptome and metagenome of the human gut. Franzosa EA, Morgan XC, Segata N, Waldron L, Reyes J, Earl AM, Giannoukos G, Boylan MR, Ciulla D, Gevers D, Izard J, Garrett WS, Chan AT, Huttenhower C. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Jun 3;111(22):E2329-38.

Clark C. Chen, MD, PhD (Fellow ‘04-‘06), University of California, San Diego
Genome-wide shRNA screen revealed integrated mitogenic signaling between dopamine receptor D2 (DRD2) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in glioblastoma. Jie Li, Shan Zhu, David Kozono, Kimberly Ng, Diahnn Futalan, Ying Shen, Johnny C. Akers, Tyler Steed, Deepa Kushwaha, Michael Schlabach, Bob S. Carter, Chang-Hyuk Kwon, Frank Furnari, Webster Cavenee, Stephen Elledge, Clark C. Chen.  Oncotarget, March 2014

Chonghui Cheng, PhD (Fellow ‘01-‘03), Northwestern University School of Medicine, Chicago
Cell type-restricted activity of hnRNPM promotes breast cancer metastasis via regulating alternative splicing. Xu Y, Gao XD, Lee JH, Huang H, Tan H, Ahn J, Reinke LM, Peter ME, Feng Y, Gius D, Siziopikou KP, Peng J, Xiao X, Cheng C. Genes Dev. 2014 Jun 1;28(11):1191-203.

Ralph Deberardinis. MD, PhD (Clinical Investigator ‘11-‘14), University of Texas SW Medical Center, Dallas
Oxidation of alpha-ketoglutarate is required for reductive carboxylation in cancer cells with mitochondrial defects. Mullen AR, Hu Z, Shi X, Jiang L, Boroughs LK, Kovacs Z, Boriack R, Rakheja D, Sullivan LB, Linehan WM, Chandel NS, DeBerardinis RJ. Cell Rep. 2014 Jun 12;7(5):1679-90.

Madhav Dhodapkar, MD (Clinical Investigator ‘02-‘07), Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven
Induction of antigen-specific immunity with a vaccine targeting NY-ESO-1 to the dendritic cell receptor DEC-205. Dhodapkar MV1, Sznol M, Zhao B, Wang D, Carvajal RD, Keohan ML, Chuang E, Sanborn RE, Lutzky J, Powderly J, Kluger H, Tejwani S, Green J, Ramakrishna V, Crocker A, Vitale L, Yellin M, Davis T, Keler T. Sci Transl Med. 2014 Apr 16;6(232):232ra51.

Charles Drake, MD, PhD (Clinical Investigator ‘04-‘09), The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore
Chronic Inflammation in Benign Prostate Tissue Is Associated with High-Grade Prostate Cancer in the Placebo Arm of the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial. B. Gurel, M. S. Lucia, I. M. Thompson, P. J. Goodman, C. M. Tangen, A. R. Kristal, H. L. Parnes, A. Hoque, S. M. Lippman, S. Sutcliffe, S. B. Peskoe, C. G. Drake, W. G. Nelson, A. M. De Marzo, E. A. Platz.  Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, 2014; DOI: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-13-1126

Sandra E. Encalada, PhD (Fellow ‘07-‘11), The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla
Biophysical challenges to axonal transport: motor-cargo deficiencies and neurodegeneration. Encalada SE, Goldstein LSB. Annu Rev Biophys. 2014, 43:7.1-7.29doi:10.1146/annurev-biophys-051013-022746.

Fast axonal transport of the proteasome complex depends on membrane interaction and molecular motor function. Otero MG, Alloatti M, Cromberg LE, Almenar-Queralt A, Encalada SE, Pozo Devoto VM, Goldstein LSB, Falzone TL.  J. Cell Sci. 2014, 127: 1537-1549.

Patricia Ernst, PhD (Fellow ‘97-‘00), Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover
The histone methyltransferase activity of MLL1 is dispensable for hematopoiesis and leukemogenesis. Mishra BP, Zaffuto KM, Artinger EL, Org T, Mikkola HK, Cheng C, Djabali M, Ernst P. Cell Rep. 2014 May 22;7(4):1239-47.

Andrew L. Feldman, MD (Clinical Investigator ‘09-‘14), Mayo Clinic, Rochester
ALK-negative anaplastic large cell lymphoma is a genetically heterogeneous disease with widely disparate clinical outcomes. Parilla Castellar ER, Jaffe ES, Said JW, Swerdlow SH, Ketterling RP, Knudson RA, Sidhu JS, Hsi ED, Karikehalli S, Jiang L, Vasmatzis G, Gibson SE, Ondrejka S, Nicolae A, Grogg KL, Allmer C, Ristow KM, Wilson WH, Macon WR, Law ME, Cerhan JR, Habermann TM, Ansell SM, Dogan A, Maurer MJ, Feldman AL. Blood. 2014 Jun 3.

Elaine Fuchs, PhD (Damon Runyon Board Member, Fellow ‘77), The Rockefeller University, New York
Transit-amplifying cells orchestrate stem cell activity and tissue regeneration. Hsu YC, Li L, Fuchs E. Cell. 2014 May 8;157(4):935-49.

Forces generated by cell intercalation tow epidermal sheets in mammalian tissue morphogenesis. Heller E, Kumar KV, Grill SW, Fuchs E. Dev Cell. 2014 Mar 31;28(6):617-32.

SOX9: a stem cell transcriptional regulator of secreted niche signaling factors. Kadaja M1, Keyes BE, Lin M, Pasolli HA, Genander M, Polak L, Stokes N, Zheng D, Fuchs E. Genes Dev. 2014 Feb 15;28(4):328-41. doi: 10.1101/gad.233247.113.

Nathanael Gray, PhD (Innovator ‘08-‘10 ), Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston
Discovery of a potent, covalent BTK inhibitor for B-cell lymphoma. Wu H, Wang W, Liu F, Weisberg EL, Tian B, Chen Y, Li B, Wang A, Wang B, Zhao Z, McMillin DW, Hu C, Li H, Wang J, Liang Y, Buhrlage SJ, Liang J, Liu J, Yang G, Brown JR, Treon SP, Mitsiades CS, Griffin JD, Liu Q, Gray NS. ACS Chem Biol. 2014 May 16;9(5):1086-91.

Nicholas Guydosh, PhD (Fellow ‘10-‘13) and Rachel Green, PhD (Innovation Award Committee Member, Fellow ‘93-‘96), The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore
Dom34 rescues ribosomes in 3’ untranslated regions. Guydosh NR, Green R. Cell. 2014 Feb 27;156(5):950-62. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.02.006.

Christopher Hale, PhD (Fellow ‘10-‘13), University of California, Los Angeles
Transcriptional gene silencing by Arabidopsis microrchidia homologues involves the formation of heteromers. Moissiard G1, Bischof S1, Husmann D1, Pastor WA1, Hale CJ1, Yen L1, Stroud H1, Papikian A1, Vashisht AA2, Wohlschlegel JA2, Jacobsen SE3. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 May 20;111(20):7474-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1406611111. Epub 2014 May 5.

John Heymach, MD, PhD (Clinical Investigator ‘04-‘09), MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston
A High Content Clonogenic Survival Drug Screen Identifies MEK Inhibitors as Potent Radiation Sensitizers for KRAS Mutant Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer. Lin SH, Zhang J, Giri U, Stephan C, Sobieski M, Zhong L, Mason KA, Molkentine J, Thames HD, Yoo SS, Heymach JV. J Thorac Oncol. 2014 Jul;9(7):965-73.

Tumor endothelial markers define novel subsets of cancer-specific circulating endothelial cells associated with antitumor efficacy. Mehran R, Nilsson M, Khajavi M, Du Z, Cascone T, Wu HK, Cortes A, Xu L, Zurita A, Schier R, Riedel B, El-Zein R, Heymach JV. Cancer Res. 2014 May 15;74(10):2731-41.

Sujun Hua, PhD (Fellow ‘10-‘13), MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston
Yap1 activation enables bypass of oncogenic kras addiction in pancreatic cancer. Kapoor A, Yao W, Ying H, Hua S, Liewen A, Wang Q, Zhong Y, Wu CJ, Sadanandam A, Hu B, Chang Q, Chu GC, Al-Khalil R, Jiang S, Xia H, Fletcher-Sananikone E, Lim C, Horwitz GI, Viale A, Pettazzoni P, Sanchez N, Wang H, Protopopov A, Zhang J, Heffernan T, Johnson RL, Chin L, Wang YA, Draetta G, DePinho RA. Cell. 2014 Jul 3;158(1):185-97.

Susan Kaech, PhD (Fellow ‘99-‘02), Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven
Immune-Based Antitumor Effects of BRAF Inhibitors Rely on Signaling by CD40L and IFNγ. Ho PC, Meeth KM, Tsui YC, Srivastava B, Bosenberg MW, Kaech SM. Cancer Res. 2014 Jun 15;74(12):3205-17.

Chronic viral infection promotes sustained Th1-derived immunoregulatory IL-10 via BLIMP-1. Parish IA, Marshall HD, Staron MM, Lang PA, Brüstle A, Chen JH, Cui W, Tsui YC, Perry C, Laidlaw BJ, Ohashi PS, Weaver CT, Kaech SM. J Clin Invest. 2014 Jul 8. pii: 66108.

Vassiliki Karantza, MD, PhD (Clinical Investigator ‘08-‘13), Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick
ERBB2 overexpression suppresses stress-induced autophagy and renders ERBB2-induced mammary tumorigenesis independent of monoallelic Becn1 loss. Lozy F, Cai-McRae X, Teplova I, Price S, Reddy A, Bhanot G, Ganesan S, Vazquez A, Karantza V. Autophagy. 2014 Apr;10(4):662-76.

Autophagy inhibition by chloroquine sensitizes HT-29 colorectal cancer cells to concurrent chemoradiation. Schonewolf CA, Mehta M, Schiff D, Wu H, Haffty BG, Karantza V, Jabbour SK. World J Gastrointest Oncol. 2014 Mar 15;6(3):74-82.

Hannah L. Klein, PhD (Fellow ‘76-‘78), New York University Medical Center, New York
Avoidance of ribonucleotide-induced mutations by RNase H2 and Srs2-Exo1 mechanisms. Potenski CJ, Niu H, Sung P, Klein HL. Nature. 2014 Jul 10;511(7508):251-4.

Gabriel Lander, PhD (Dale Frey Scientist ‘13-‘15, Fellow ‘10-‘13), The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla
High-resolution microtubule structures reveal the structural transitions in αβ-tubulin upon GTP hydrolysis. Alushin GM, Lander GC, Kellogg EH, Zhang R, Baker D, Nogales E. Cell. 2014 May 22;157(5):1117-29

Liana Lareau, PhD (Fellow ‘09-‘12), University of California, Berkeley
Distinct stages of the translation elongation cycle revealed by sequencing ribosome-protected mRNA fragments. Lareau LF, Hite DH, Hogan GJ, Brown PO. Elife. 2014 May 9;3:e01257.

Grant McArthur, PhD, FRACP (Fellow ‘95-‘98), Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute, East Melbourne
Safety and efficacy of vemurafenib in BRAF(V600E) and BRAF(V600K) mutation-positive melanoma (BRIM-3): extended follow-up of a phase 3, randomised, open-label study. McArthur GA, Chapman PB, Robert C, Larkin J, Haanen JB, Dummer R, Ribas A, Hogg D, Hamid O, Ascierto PA, Garbe C, Testori A, Maio M, Lorigan P, Lebbé C, Jouary T, Schadendorf D, O’Day SJ, Kirkwood JM, Eggermont AM, Dréno B, Sosman JA, Flaherty KT, Yin M, Caro I, Cheng S, Trunzer K, Hauschild A. Lancet Oncol. 2014 Mar;15(3):323-32.

Response of BRAF-mutant melanoma to BRAF inhibition is mediated by a network of transcriptional regulators of glycolysis. Parmenter TJ, Kleinschmidt M, Kinross KM, Bond ST, Li J, Kaadige MR, Rao A, Sheppard KE, Hugo W, Pupo GM, Pearson RB, McGee SL, Long GV, Scolyer RA, Rizos H, Lo RS, Cullinane C, Ayer DE, Ribas A, Johnstone RW, Hicks RJ, McArthur GA. Cancer Discov. 2014 Apr;4(4):423-33.

Ann Mullally, MD (Clinical Investigator ‘13-‘16), Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston
Csnk1a1 inhibition has p53-dependent therapeutic efficacy in acute myeloid leukemia. Järås M1, Miller PG, Chu LP, Puram RV, Fink EC, Schneider RK, Al-Shahrour F, Peña P, Breyfogle LJ, Hartwell KA, McConkey ME, Cowley GS, Root DE, Kharas MG, Mullally A, Ebert BL. J Exp Med. 2014 Apr 7;211(4):605-12. doi: 10.1084/jem.20131033.

Loss of Function of TET2 Cooperates with Constitutively Active KIT in Murine and Human Models of Mastocytosis. De Vita S, Schneider RK, Garcia M, Wood J, Gavillet M, Ebert BL, Gerbaulet A, Roers A, Levine RL, Mullally A, Williams DA. PLoS One. 2014 May 2;9(5):e96209.

Trudy G. Oliver, PhD (Innovator ‘13-‘15) Huntsman Cancer Institute, Salt Lake City
Sox2 cooperates with lkb1 loss in a mouse model of squamous cell lung cancer. Mukhopadhyay A, Berrett KC, Kc U, Clair PM, Pop SM, Carr SR, Witt BL, Oliver TG. Cell Rep. 2014 Jul 10;8(1):40-9.

Sarah B. Pierce, PhD (Fellow ‘98-‘01) University of Washington, Seattle
Mutant adenosine deaminase 2 in a polyarteritis nodosa vasculopathy. Navon Elkan P, Pierce SB, Segel R, Walsh T, Barash J, Padeh S, Zlotogorski A, Berkun Y, Press JJ, Mukamel M, Voth I, Hashkes PJ, Harel L, Hoffer V, Ling E, Yalcinkaya F, Kasapcopur O, Lee MK, Klevit RE, Renbaum P, Weinberg-Shukron A, Sener EF, Schormair B, Zeligson S, Marek-Yagel D, Strom TM, Shohat M, Singer A, Rubinow A, Pras E, Winkelmann J, Tekin M, Anikster Y, King MC, Levy-Lahad E. N Engl J Med. 2014 Mar 6;370(10):921-31.

Matthew Pratt, PhD (Innovator ‘12-‘14), University of Southern California, Los Angeles
Identification of O-GlcNAc Modification Targets in Mouse Retinal Pericytes: Implication of p53 in Pathogenesis of Diabetic Retinopathy. Gurel Z, Zaro BW, Pratt MR, Sheibani N. PLoS One. 2014 May 1;9(5):e95561.

Tiffany Reese, PhD (Fellow ‘09-‘12), Washington University, St. Louis
Helminth infection reactivates latent γ-herpesvirus via cytokine competition at a viral promoter. Reese TA, Wakeman BS, Choi HS, Hufford MM, Huang SC, Zhang X, Buck MD, Jezewski A, Kambal A, Liu CY, Goel G, Murray PJ, Xavier RJ, Kaplan MH, Renne R, Speck SH, Artyomov MN, Pearce EJ, Virgin HW. Science. 2014 Jun 26. pii: 1254517

Barry S. Rosenstein, MD, PhD (Fellow ‘78), Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York
A three-stage genome-wide association study identifies a susceptibility locus for late radiotherapy toxicity at 2q24.1. Fachal L, Gómez-Caamaño A, Barnett GC, Peleteiro P, Carballo AM, Calvo-Crespo P, Kerns SL, Sánchez-García M, Lobato-Busto R, Dorling L, Elliott RM, Dearnaley DP, Sydes MR, Hall E, Burnet NG, Carracedo A, Rosenstein BS, West CM, Dunning AM, Vega A. Nat Genet. 2014 Jun 29. doi: 10.1038/ng.3020

Julien Sage, PhD (Fellowship Award Committee Member, Scholar ‘05-‘07), Stanford University, Stanford
SMYD3 links lysine methylation of MAP3K2 to Ras-driven cancer. Mazur PK, Reynoird N, Khatri P, Jansen PW, Wilkinson AW, Liu S, Barbash O, Van Aller GS, Huddleston M, Dhanak D, Tummino PJ, Kruger RG, Garcia BA, Butte AJ, Vermeulen M, Sage J, Gozani O. Nature. 2014 Jun 12;510(7504):283-7.

Alice Shaw, MD, PhD, (Fellow ‘04-‘05), Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
The ALK inhibitor ceritinib overcomes crizotinib resistance in non-small cell lung cancer. Friboulet L, Li N, Katayama R, Lee CC, Gainor JF, Crystal AS, Michellys PY, Awad MM, Yanagitani N, Kim S, Pferdekamper AC, Li J, Kasibhatla S, Sun F, Sun X, Hua S, McNamara P, Mahmood S, Lockerman EL, Fujita N, Nishio M, Harris JL, Shaw AT, Engelman JA. Cancer Discov. 2014 Jun;4(6):662-73.

Ceritinib in ALK-rearranged non-small-cell lung cancer. Shaw AT, Kim DW, Mehra R, Tan DS, Felip E, Chow LQ, Camidge DR, Vansteenkiste J, Sharma S, De Pas T, Riely GJ, Solomon BJ, Wolf J, Thomas M, Schuler M, Liu G, Santoro A, Lau YY, Goldwasser M, Boral AL, Engelman JA. N Engl J Med. 2014 Mar 27;370(13):1189-97.

William Shih, PhD (Fellow ‘01-‘04), Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston
Virus-inspired membrane encapsulation of DNA nanostructures to achieve in vivo stability. Perrault SD, Shih WM. ACS Nano. 2014 May 27;8(5):5132-40.

Peter J. Skene, PhD (Fellow ‘12-‘15), Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle
The nucleosomal barrier to promoter escape by RNA polymerase II is overcome by the chromatin remodeler Chd1. Skene PJ, Hernandez AE, Groudine M, Henikoff S. Elife. 2014 Apr 15;3:e02042.

Georgios Skiniotis, PhD (Fellow ‘04-‘07), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Structural rearrangements of a polyketide synthase module during its catalytic cycle. Whicher JR, Dutta S, Hansen DA, Hale WA, Chemler JA, Dosey AM, Narayan AR, Håkansson K, Sherman DH, Smith JL, Skiniotis G. Nature. 2014 Jun 26;510(7506):560-4.

Eranthie Weerapana, PhD (Innovator ‘12-‘14), Boston College, Chestnut Hill
Optimized metal-organic-framework nanospheres for drug delivery: evaluation of small-molecule encapsulation. Zhuang J, Kuo CH, Chou LY, Liu DY, Weerapana E, Tsung CK. ACS Nano. 2014 Mar 25;8(3):2812-9.

Eileen White, PhD (Fellow ‘83-‘85), Rutgers University, New Brunswick
Autophagy is required for glucose homeostasis and lung tumor maintenance. Karsli-Uzunbas G, Guo JY, Price S, Teng X, Laddha SV, Khor S, Kalaany NY, Jacks T, Chan CS, Rabinowitz JD, White E. Cancer Discov. 2014 May 29. pii: CD-14-0363.

Arun Wiita, MD, PhD (Fellow ‘12-‘16), University of California, San Francisco
Circulating proteolytic signatures of chemotherapy-induced cell death in humans discovered by N-terminal labeling. Wiita AP, Hsu GW, Lu CM, Esensten JH, Wells JA. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 May 27;111(21):7594-9.

Monte Winslow, PhD (Fellow ‘06-‘09), Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford
A conditional system to specifically link disruption of protein-coding function with reporter expression in mice. Chiou SH, Kim-Kiselak C, Risca VI, Heimann MK, Chuang CH, Burds AA, Greenleaf WJ, Jacks TE, Feldser DM, Winslow MM. Cell Rep. 2014 Jun 26;7(6):2078-86.

Obligate progression precedes lung adenocarcinoma dissemination. Caswell DR, Chuang CH, Yang D, Chiou SH, Cheemalavagu S, Kim-Kiselak C, Connolly A, Winslow MM. Cancer Discov. 2014 Jul;4(7):781-9.

Rui Yue, PhD (Fellow ‘12-‘15), University of Texas SW Medical Center, Dallas
Leptin-Receptor-Expressing Mesenchymal Stromal Cells Represent the Main Source of Bone Formed by Adult Bone Marrow. Zhou BO, Yue R, Murphy MM, Peyer JG, Morrison SJ. Cell Stem Cell. 2014 Jun 18. pii: S1934-5909(14)00256-2.

Alexandra Zidovska, PhD (Fellow ‘10-‘12), Harvard Medical School, Boston
Chromatin hydrodynamics. Bruinsma R, Grosberg AY, Rabin Y, Zidovska A. Biophys J. 2014 May 6;106(9):1871-81.

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Damon Runyon Foundation Grants Prestigious Fellowship Awards to 16 Top Young Scientists

Grants totaling over $3.3M give early career investigators independence to pursue novel ideas

New York, NY (July 14, 2014)  – The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on supporting innovative early career researchers, named 16 new Damon Runyon Fellows at its spring Fellowship Award Committee review. The recipients of this prestigious, four-year award are outstanding postdoctoral scientists conducting basic and translational cancer research in the laboratories of leading senior investigators across the country. The Fellowship encourages the nation’s most promising young scientists to pursue careers in cancer research by providing them with independent funding ($208,000 each for basic scientists, $248,000 for physician-scientists) to work on innovative projects.

May 2014 Damon Runyon Fellows:

Caitlin A. Brennan, PhD [Dennis and Marsha Dammerman Fellow], with her sponsor Wendy S. Garrett, MD, PhD, at the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, studies colorectal cancer and its connection to the human microbiota- the collection of bacteria and other microbes associated with the body in both healthy and disease states. Her research will investigate how specific bacteria signal to both the immune system and other microbes in the development of colorectal cancer.

Dennis L. Buckley, PhD [Merck Fellow],
with his sponsor James E. Bradner, MD, at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, aims to develop improved inhibitors of BET-bromodomain proteins for treatment of multiple cancers, such as NUT-midline carcinoma, acute leukemia, hematological malignancies and solid tumors. In addition, he will evaluate both novel and existing BET inhibitors in neuroblastoma. His goal is to chemically generate drugs with improved efficacy or lower side effects.

Casey A. Gifford, PhD [HHMI Fellow],
with her sponsor Deepak Srivastava, MD, at the Gladstone Institutes, San Francisco, aims to define the roles for DNA-binding proteins that can manipulate DNA conformation in the nucleus. DNA is maintained in an ordered conformation that contributes to control of gene expression and cellular identity. She will employ next-generation sequencing approaches and human stem cells to better understand why the loss or aberrant expression of these DNA-binding proteins leads to cancer.

Keren I. Hilgendorf, PhD [Layton Family Fellow],
with her sponsor Peter K. Jackson, PhD, at the Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, is exploring the role of primary cilia in regulating cell proliferation and differentiation. The primary cilium is an antenna-like cellular protrusion that is localized on the surface of most vertebrate cells and functions in chemo- and mechanosensation. In many cancers, primary cilia are lost, so cilia-mediated signaling pathways are deregulated.

Fuguo Jiang, PhD [Merck Fellow],
with his sponsor Jennifer A. Doudna, PhD, at the University of California, Berkeley, is studying the CRISPR-Cas system, which has been adopted as a robust and versatile platform for genome engineering in human cells as well as other experimental systems. He aims to use a combination of biochemical and biophysical approaches to investigate the detailed molecular mechanism of RNA-guided DNA targeting and recognition by CRISPR-Cas9. The results of this research will provide a fundamental understanding of the Cas9 enzyme family and will support its use for gene therapies against cancers.

Avinash Khanna, PhD [Rebecca Ridley Kry Fellow],
with his sponsor Matthew D. Shair, PhD, at Harvard University, Cambridge, studies a type of leukemia called mixed lineage leukemia (MLL), which often results in early relapse and a poor prognosis for the patient. Recently, it was found that inhibition of a protein called Mediator diminishes the ability of AML cancer cells to grow and proliferate. This research will use small molecules to elucidate the chemical biology of Mediator proteins.

Yin Liu, PhD [Layton Family Fellow],
with her sponsor Mark A. Krasnow, MD, PhD, at Stanford University, Stanford, studies lung biology. The lung is innervated by diverse types of sensory neurons, collectively called pulmonary sensory neurons. These neurons detect a variety of physiological stimuli from the lung and inform the central nervous system about the state of the lung. Lung cancer, one of the most common cancers with a high rate of lethality, is associated with symptoms such as chronic cough, shortness of breath, and referred cranial facial pain. Her research will examine how pulmonary sensory neurons recognize and respond to lung tumors and mediate lung cancer-associated clinical symptoms.

Chao Lu, PhD [Kandarian Family Fellow],
with his sponsor C. David Allis, PhD, at The Rockefeller University, New York, is studying histones, proteins that fold DNA into high-order structures, which is critical for proper gene expression. Mutations in histones are mutated in certain types of pediatric brain tumors and sarcomas, including a rare bone cancer called chondroblastoma. He aims to understand the biochemical and molecular mechanisms by which histone proteins function and how they are perturbed in tumor cells.

Timothy D. Martin, PhD [Marion Abbe Fellow],
with his sponsor Stephen J. Elledge, PhD, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, focuses on genomic instability, a hallmark of virtually all cancers that underlies the mutations and aneuploidy (incorrect chromosome number) changes that perturb oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes (TSGs). Patient tumor sequencing has unveiled common genomic alterations across different cancers. The goal of this project is to precisely recreate these genomic alterations and directly test how each contributes to oncogenesis.

Mandy M. Muller, PhD [HHMI Fellow],
with her sponsor Britt Glaunsinger, PhD, at the University of California, Berkeley, is examining Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), a virus associated with lifelong infections. A healthy immune system keeps the virus in check; however, in immunocompromised individuals, KSHV is associated with a number of malignances, including Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS). KSHV dramatically manipulates the intracellular gene expression environment of its host cell. The defining characteristic is a near-global depletion of cytoplasmic mRNA called “host shutoff.” The goal of this research is to mechanistically delineate how the virus hijacks host factors to dampen gene expression in the cell.

Duy P. Nguyen, PhD [Connie and Bob Lurie Fellow],
with his sponsor James A. Wells, PhD, at the University of California, San Francisco, is analyzing the bacterial enzyme Cas9, which has emerged to be a versatile tool to manipulate the genome. He aims to develop an efficient method for selective delivery to and activation of Cas9 in cancer cells. The developed methodology will hopefully set the foundation for rapidly creating genetic models to interrogate signaling pathways implicated in cancer and to investigate novel drug screening approaches that identify new drug targets for cancer treatment.

Neel H. Shah, PhD,
with his sponsor John Kuriyan, PhD, at the University of California, Berkeley, aims to elucidate structural details of the signaling enzyme ZAP-70, found primarily in immune T cells. Expression of ZAP-70 in other immune cells, B cells, however, is associated with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Furthermore, loss of ZAP-70 function causes severe combined immunodeficiency; an impaired immune system can increase a patient’s susceptibility to tumor development. His research on ZAP-70 structure and function will help lay the groundwork for the development of ZAP-70-specific therapeutics.

Hume Akahori Stroud, PhD [HHMI Fellow],
with his sponsor Michael E. Greenberg, PhD, at Harvard Medical School, Boston, is examining the distinct role of MeCP2, a protein that binds methyl-CpG-DNA and regulates neuronal chromatin, which “packages” DNA. The proposed research has significant implications for causes and mechanisms of cancer, as dysregulation of DNA methylation and other chromatin modifications represent early oncogenic events in a wide range of human cancers.

Tony Yu-Chen Tsai, PhD, MD [Kenneth G. and Elaine A. Langone Fellow],
with his sponsor Sean G. Megason, PhD, at Harvard Medical School, Boston, seeks to understand how the signaling pathway directed by the protein Sonic Hedgehog (Shh) regulates cell-cell adhesion molecules required for correct spatial organization of the neuro-epithelium. Abnormal Shh signaling is associated with several types of cancer, and aberrant regulation of cell-cell adhesion could lead to tumor metastasis. His findings may ultimately lead to understanding and prevention of metastasis in Shh-associated cancers.

Daniel E. Webster, PhD,
with his sponsor Louis M. Staudt, MD, PhD, at the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, studies Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL), an aggressive cancer that hijacks the normal molecular mechanisms acting in immune B cells to drive malignant growth. Many genes have been studied as oncogenes or tumor suppressors in DLBCL, but a class of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) remains largely unexplored for its function in this cancer. LncRNAs, once thought to be non-functional products of junk DNA, are now known to play an essential role in many biological processes. This research will discover oncogenic or tumor suppressive lncRNAs in DLBCL to uncover potential targets for cancer diagnosis or therapy.

Sungwook Woo, PhD [HHMI Fellow],
with his sponsor Peng Yin, PhD, at Harvard University, Cambridge, is using protein structures to illustrate the mechanisms of cancer-related processes. His research aims to overcome limitations of current techniques by using recent breakthroughs in “programmable DNA self-assembly” to develop protein framework structures. If successful, his efforts will provide a general tool for structural biology and in turn benefit the mechanistic studies and therapeutic development for cancer.



To accelerate breakthroughs, the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation provides today’s best young scientists with funding to pursue innovative research.  The Foundation has gained worldwide prominence in cancer research by identifying outstanding researchers and physician-scientists.  Twelve scientists supported by the Foundation have received the Nobel Prize, and others are heads of cancer centers and leaders of renowned research programs.  Each of its award programs is extremely competitive, with less than 10% of applications funded.  Since its founding in 1946, Damon Runyon has invested nearly $275 million and funded more than 3,420 young scientists. This year, it will commit over $16 million in new awards to brilliant young investigators.

100% of all donations to the Foundation are used to support scientific research.  Its administrative and fundraising costs are paid from its Damon Runyon Broadway Tickets Service and endowment.

For more information visit

Yung S. Lie, PhD
Deputy Director and Chief Scientific Officer
Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation



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