Two up-and-coming City of Hope physicians have been selected as 2011 Paul Calabresi scholars, earning them funding from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to advance their research.
|Julie Wolfson (Photo by p.cunningham)|
Robert Chen, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation, and Julie Wolfson, M.D., M.S.H.S., assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics, were named as the latest participants in the prestigious program.
The Paul Calabresi Career Development Award for Clinical Oncology program, known as a K12 grant, supports clinical researchers transitioning to their own full-fledged scientific careers. Physicians within the first five years of their initial faculty appointment are eligible.
“The K12 grant provides protected time and resources so that young faculty can obtain additional training and mentoring that will help them become independent clinician scientists,” said Joanne Mortimer, M.D., vice chair of the Department of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research, professor of medical oncology and principal investigator on the grant.
Chen and Wolfson join fellow Calabresi scholars Sumanta Pal, M.D., Rahul Jandial, M.D., Ph.D., and Saro Armenian, D.O., M.P.H., as part of City of Hope’s Clinical Oncology Research Career Development Program. The program trains participants in research techniques and provides mentoring from senior faculty members. It is open to surgeons, radiation oncologists, pathologists, pediatricians and internists who have completed a fellowship in oncology.
The program’s four years of study include protected time for work in biostatistics, clinical investigation, basic science and laboratory research, including instruction in scientific writing, biomedical tools and resources, and clinical pharmacology. The grant provides each researcher up to $110,000 in salary support, lab and research supplies, and travel funds per year.
Researchers will focus on these topics:
|Robert Chen (Photo by p.cunningham)|
A model for therapy against mantle cell lymphoma
Chen, the current Tim Nesvig Lymphoma Research Fellow, is pursuing answers to one of the most challenging hematologic cancers: mantle cell lymphoma. This form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is aggressive and difficult to treat, and it often has spread by the time doctors detect it.
As part of the K12 project, Chen will develop an animal model to study an RNA interference approach to fighting mantle cell lymphoma. He hopes to test small interfering RNAs, or siRNAs, as a way to target genes thought to play a part in mantle cell lymphoma. These include the gene that produces the protein cyclin D1, a hallmark of the disease.
Adolescents and young adults with cancer
Research at City of Hope and other centers has shown that some adolescents and young adults with cancer have better outcomes than others. Minority patients often fare worse. Wolfson will study the causes of these disparities.
Results of her work will help physicians and researchers understand the factors that help young patients access high-quality care and the barriers that block this care. By documenting these factors, researchers may develop targeted strategies that could improve outcomes, especially among underrepresented minorities.
Both Wolfson’s and Chen’s research will be funded through an overall NCI grant renewed for $3.6 million in 2009. Institutions nationwide with NCI K12 programs include the Mayo Clinic as well as Fred Hutchinson, M.D. Anderson and Memorial Sloan-Kettering cancer centers.