Hematologist gets $100,000 NCI grant for lymphoma research

November 18, 2014 | by Darrin Joy

Hematologist Robert Chen, M.D. Hematologist Robert Chen is one of just 11 researchers in the nation this year to receive the Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award from the National Cancer Institute. The NCI grant honors clinical researchers who participate in collaborative clinical trials.

Hematologist Robert Chen, M.D., is boosting scientific discovery at City of Hope and, by extension, across the nation. Just ask the National Cancer Institute.

The institution recently awarded Chen the much-sought-after Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award for boosting scientific discovery at City of Hope. He is one of just 11 researchers in the nation this year to receive the prestigious $100,000 grant from the NCI.

Fewer than 60 scientists have been granted the award since its inception five years ago.

The two-year NCI grant recognizes Chen’s exceptional merit as a clinical researcher whose innovative efforts are advancing therapies for lymphoma patients.

Chen, an assistant professor in the Department of Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation, specializes in Hodgkin lymphoma research and treatment. His recent leadership of clinical trials testing the drug brentuximab vedotin helped clear its use for treating certain Hodgkin lymphoma patients who don’t respond well to stem cell transplantation.

Brentuximab vedotin is an antibody-based drug that targets Hodgkin lymphoma cells through a hallmark protein that sits on their surfaces. The antibody binds to the surface protein and then makes its way into the cell where it releases a drug that blocks normal cell division. Unable to divide, the cells wither and die.

The Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award recognizes and supports outstanding mid-career clinical investigators such as Chen who work at NCI-designated cancer centers and participate extensively in NCI-funded collaborative clinical trials. Awardees must demonstrate leadership, participation and activities that promote a culture of successful clinical research.

This year’s awardees were announced formally by James Doroshow, M.D., the NCI deputy director for clinical and translational research and former chair of the Department of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research at City of Hope. The announcements occurred Nov. 12 during the live videocast of the NCI Clinical Trials and Translational Research Advisory Committee meeting.

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