Stand Up To Cancer Awards 2018 Laura Ziskin Prize in Translational Research to Drs. Jos Jonkers and Helen Piwnica-Worms
LOS ANGELES – (February 1, 2018) – Stand Up To Cancer awarded the 2018 Laura Ziskin Prize in Translational Research to two highly respected researchers who will bring together expertise in DNA damage repair mechanisms and imaging mass cytometry to investigate how the immune system recognizes breast cancer and devise new treatment combinations for more effective treatments. The collaborators will examine the collection of neoantigens (or protein markers) present on patient-derived and laboratory models. The team will use this information to more accurately replicate human tumors in laboratory models so that new combinations of treatments can be more rapidly and accurately tested to speed more promising therapies to the clinic. The Prize was awarded at the 2018 SU2C Scientific Summit in Santa Monica.
Award winners Drs. Jos Jonkers of the Netherlands Cancer Institute and Helen Piwnica-Worms of the MD Anderson Cancer Center will share a $250,000 grant for their year-long project.
“These two doctors have complementary skill sets that have converged on this exciting opportunity to improve patient outcomes,” stated the selection committee, chaired by John Glaspy, MD, MPH, professor of medicine at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC) of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Medicine. “The collaboration of these world-leading investigators has the potential to make a major impact on the use of DNA damage response inhibitors both alone and in combination with DNA damage checkpoint inhibitors. Working together, this team will be more than a sum of its parts, and will accelerate use of this exciting technology in the breast cancer community as well as rapidly translating combinations of drugs targeting DNA damage repair and the DNA damage checkpoint to the clinic.”
Dr. Jonkers is a world-leader in building genetically engineered mouse models (GEMMs) representing human breast cancers. He and his group have developed GEMMs for p53-induced breast cancer, BRCA1- and BRCA2- associated hereditary breast cancer, and E-cadherin-mutated lobular breast cancer. They have also developed a panel of patient-derived xenograph (PDX) models of BRCA1-proficient and BRCA-1 deficient triple-negative breast cancer. These are unique in vivo models for minimal residual disease and drug tolerance.
Dr. Piwnica-Worms has elucidated how the key mitotic regulator CDK1 is turned on-and-off during a normal cell division cycle and how its activation is prevented by un-replicated or damaged DNA. She biochemically characterized key enzymes in these pathways, identified their downstream effectors, and elucidated the biological consequences of perturbing their functions in vivo. Her lab is generating a valuable collection of annotated PDX models of breast cancer aligned with two ongoing neoadjuvant clinical trials at MD Anderson.
The Ziskin Prize is named for legendary Hollywood Producer and Stand Up To Cancer Co-Founder Laura Ziskin, who lived with breast cancer for seven years before it took her life in 2011. The prize, inaugurated in 2012, was created with $1.1 million designated for this purpose in Ziskin’s will.
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About Stand Up To Cancer
Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) raises funds to accelerate the pace of research to get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives now. SU2C, a division of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, was established in 2008 by film and media leaders who utilize the industry’s resources to engage the public in supporting a new, collaborative model of cancer research, and to increase awareness about cancer prevention as well as progress being made in the fight against the disease. As SU2C’s scientific partner, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and a Scientific Advisory Committee led by Nobel Laureate Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, conduct rigorous, competitive review processes to identify the best research proposals to recommend for funding, oversee grants administration, and provide expert review of research progress.
Current members of the SU2C Council of Founders and Advisors (CFA) include Katie Couric, Sherry Lansing, Lisa Paulsen, Rusty Robertson, Sue Schwartz, Pamela Oas Williams, Ellen Ziffren, and Kathleen Lobb. The late Laura Ziskin and the late Noreen Fraser are also co-founders. Sung Poblete, PhD, RN, has served as SU2C’s president since 2011. For more information, please visit StandUpToCancer.org.