Alex Kentsis, MD, PhD

Dr. Kentsis [Richard Lumsden Foundation Clinical Investigator] focuses on the discovery and development of novel therapeutic strategies for patients with refractory cancers, with immediate emphasis on therapy-resistant acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Recent advances in genomic technology revealed a daunting complexity of genetic lesions in some cancers, and surprising dearth of gene mutations amenable to therapy in others.

Harihar Basnet, PhD

Dr. Basnet is investigating the mechanisms responsible for cancer relapse. During cancer progression, cancer cells can spread to secondary sites where they can stay latent for months to decades before developing into metastases. His goal is to identify the genes that are important for regulating latency in metastatic cancer cells. This study will uncover potential therapeutic targets to eliminate latent metastatic cells and thus prevent cancer relapse.

Bryan C. King, PhD

Dr. King (Berger Foundation Fellow) is studying mechanisms by which nutrient-deprived cancer cells utilize extracellular proteins as a source of amino acids to promote their growth and survival. The bulk uptake of extracellular material, through a process called macropinocytosis, is a major means of nutrient uptake in single-celled, amoeboid organisms. Recent evidence suggests that mutations prevalent in cancer cells can activate this ancient scavenging mechanism.

Aaron D. Viny, MD

Dr. Viny [William Raveis Charitable Fund Fellow] is studying the oncogenic role of abnormalities in the cohesin complex-a group of proteins that function to align and stabilize sister chromatids (copies of the chromosomes) during cell division.  Mutations within several proteins in this complex have been identified in solid tumors and hematologic malignancies, particularly acute myeloid leukemia, the most common adult leukemia. Although it was presumed these mutations would result in unbalanced chromosomal breaks, this outcome has not yet been observed.

Ly P. Vu, PhD

Dr. Vu is studying childhood acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a complex and heterogeneous disease. Despite exciting advances in our understanding of AML and the availability of more aggressive treatment regimens, ~30% of children still eventually relapse from this disease and there are yet no approved targeted therapies for children with AML. Her project aims to uncover the role of Syncrip, a novel RNA binding protein, in maintaining the leukemia stem cell in AML.

Christine Mayr, MD, PhD

[Island Outreach Foundation Innovator of the Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award]

Cancer is thought to arise through a series of genetic mutations in the DNA sequence. Depending on the location of these errors and the genes that are affected, these mutations lead to the many different features that characterize cancer cells such as uncontrolled proliferation, escape from cell death and metastasis.