2009 Awardees

2009 Awardees

2009 Research Awardees

Derek Huffman, Ph.D.
Nir Barzilai, M.D. (Mentor)
Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University

Over two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese. Obesity is associated with increased risks of getting cancer, including colorectal cancer (CRC), and of dying from the disease. Studies suggest that abdominal obesity, as measured by waist circumference, is a stronger predictor of cancer risk and death than measures of general obesity. The Foundation is funding Derek Huffman, Ph.D., under the guidance of Nir Barzilai, M.D., to study whether removal of abdominal fat reduces tumors.


Surbhi Jain, Ph.D.
Ying-Hsiu Su, Ph.D. (Mentor)
Drexel University

Many of the 520,000 lives lost to liver cancer each year could be saved with early detection. However, it is nearly impossible to detect liver cancer using current methods of detection. Recent findings show that tumor-derived DNA can be detected in urine. The Foundation is supporting Surbhi Jain, Ph.D., under the guidance of Ying-Hsiu Su, Ph.D., to develop a urine test for the early detection of liver cancer.

Jacobus Jansen, Ph.D.
Jason Koutcher, M.D., Ph.D. (Mentor)
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Patients diagnosed with head and neck cancer have a poor outcome when the cancer is detected too late. Early detection could reduce the number of patients dying of this disease. The Foundation is supporting Jacobus Jansen, Ph.D., under the guidance of Jason Koutcher, M.D., Ph.D., to use imaging techniques with a ‘smart probe’ to detect lesions in a precancerous stage (i.e. before they become cancer cells).

Sarah Adams, M.D.

University of Pennsylvania
Foundation Partnership Award: The ASCO Cancer Foundation 2009 Young Investigator Award in Ovarian Cancer

Dr. Adams’s work in the mouse has demonstrated that tumor-associated antigen-presenting cells (APC) from ascites are loaded with tumor antigens in vivo, and require minimal stimulation to function as powerful vaccines which can elicit a strong anti-tumor T cell response. Malignant ascites, present in most patients with advanced ovarian cancer, provides a uniquely accessible and rich source for tumor-experienced immune cells which can be used to construct inexpensive and effective immunotherapeutic regimens. The present application proposes to optimize an ascites-based protocol for active and passive immunotherapy for women with ovarian cancer. The results of this work will be used to design a phase I clinical trial of this treatment protocol.  

Celine Mascaux, M.D., M.P.H. (photo not available)
University of Colorado Cancer Center
Foundation Partnership Award: IASLC Young Investigator Award

When lung cancer is detected early, it is more treatable and patients are expected to have a better outcome. So far, all screening strategies in high-risk populations have led to disappointing results. New, cheap, sensitive and non-invasive techniques for early diagnosis are urgently needed. The Foundation is supporting Celine Mascuax, M.D., M.P.H., in her research examining whether MicroRNAs found in plasma could be biomarkers for early detection of lung cancer.

Brian Sprague, Ph.D.
University of Vermont
Foundation Partnership Award: ASPO-American Society for Preventive Oncology/ Susan G. Komen

There is very little scientific evidence available for women who have had ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and want to reduce their risk of breast cancer reoccurrence by making changes in their personal behaviors (physical activity, diet, etc.). Dr. Sprague will examine lifestyle factors of women who have had DCIS to determine if behaviors such as physical activity, abstaining from alcohol and avoiding weight gain make them less likely to face breast cancer reoccurrence. Dr. Sprague will also look at whether the effect of these activities on risk of reoccurrence depends on molecular features of the tumor.