2009 IRG Recipients - Stand Up to Cancer
Help save a life

This holiday season, Mastercard is standing with us in the fight to end cancer as we know it. From now until December 31st, 2018, if you use a Mastercard to donate to Stand Up To Cancer, Mastercard will TRIPLE your gift, up to $300,000!

That’s triple the impact to support groundbreaking cancer research that will help save lives now!

$25 = $75
$50 = $150
$100 = $300
$250 = $750
GIVE FOR LIFE
For every $1 donated through StandUpToCancer.org with a Mastercard, Mastercard will donate $2, up to $300,000. Offer starts 12/14/18 at 12:01am ET and ends 12/31/18 at 11:59pm ET, or at the $300,000 max, whichever comes first.

2009 IRG Recipients

Research  >  Research Portfolio  >  Innovative Research Grants  >  2009 IRG Recipients

Meet the 2009 IRG recipients, and learn how each scientist is exploring novel ideas with the potential to make great advances in cancer treatment. Each award provides support for three years.

An Emerging Tumor Suppressor Pathway to Human Cancer
Fernando D. Camargo, PhD, Children’s Hospital Boston

The “Hippo” biochemical pathway is thought to regulate organ growth, bringing cell division to a halt once organs have reached maturation. One of the defining characteristics of cancer is rapid, unchecked cell growth. Camargo leads an investigation into the promise of Hippo signaling and its possible role in suppressing cancer cell growth or providing model and material for new cancer therapies.

Read More

The “Hippo” biochemical pathway is thought to regulate organ growth, bringing cell division to a halt once organs have reached maturation. One of the defining characteristics of cancer is rapid, unchecked cell growth. Camargo leads an investigation into the promise of Hippo signaling and its possible role in suppressing cancer cell growth or providing model and material for new cancer therapies.

Read Less

“Every once in a while you’re going to be the first person that notices something that nobody else in the history of humankind has known, and I think that’s very exciting.”

Modeling Ewing Tumor Initiation in Human Neural Crest Stem Cells
Elizabeth R. Lawlor, MD, PhD, University of Michigan

Using an innovative model to generate neural crest stem cells in the laboratory, this project is examining how expression of EWS-FLI1, an abnormal gene found in Ewing’s sarcomas, affects the epigenetic state in these neural crest stem cells and initiates tumor formation.

Read More

Using an innovative model to generate neural crest stem cells in the laboratory, this project is examining how expression of EWS-FLI1, an abnormal gene found in Ewing’s sarcomas, affects the epigenetic state in these neural crest stem cells and initiates tumor formation.

Read Less

“We need to develop drugs that are going to selectively kill the cancer cell and spare the normal developing tissue, so that when children have finished their treatment, not only are they free of cancer, but they can go back to school and know that they’re going to live a normal, healthy life.”

Cancer Cell Specific, Self-Delivering Pro-Drugs
Matthew Levy, PhD, Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University

Tailoring a type of molecule that is naturally attracted to cancer cells with an anticancer payload, Levy is working to minimize the toxic collateral damage inflicted on healthy tissue and cells by conventional cancer treatment methods. The innovation of a precise, self-delivering agent would greatly diminish commonly harsh side effects, representing a leap forward for cancer patients in treatment.

Read More

Tailoring a type of molecule that is naturally attracted to cancer cells with an anticancer payload, Levy is working to minimize the toxic collateral damage inflicted on healthy tissue and cells by conventional cancer treatment methods. The innovation of a precise, self-delivering agent would greatly diminish commonly harsh side effects, representing a leap forward for cancer patients in treatment.

Read Less

“I fight cancer because I think we can find a cure. It’s a very complicated disease, but I think we can stop it.”

Targeting Inhibition of BCL6 for Leukemia Stem Cell Eradication
Markus Müschen, MD, University of California, San Francisco

This team concentrates on the BCL6 protein—how it influences leukemia at onset and relapse, the protein’s relationship to leukemia stem cells, and preliminary development of a new BCL6 inhibitor capable of eliminating dormant leukemia stem cells.

Read More

This team concentrates on the BCL6 protein—how it influences leukemia at onset and relapse, the protein’s relationship to leukemia stem cells, and preliminary development of a new BCL6 inhibitor capable of eliminating dormant leukemia stem cells.

Read Less

“The key to conquering cancer, if there’s any—and I hope there is—will be collaboration.”

Identifying Solid Tumor Kinase Fusions via Exon Capture and 454 Sequencing
William Pao, MD, PhD, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center/Vanderbilt University

The uncontrolled cell growth that is a common characteristic of cancer is often compared to a broken switch. This is sometimes the case with the tyrosine kinases (TK), a class of molecular switches controlling cell growth, which can cause cancer when altered, sometimes as a result of fusion with cellular protein. Pao is leading a search for 100 such fusions in lung and breast cancers in order to offer fresh therapeutic targets, basing his study on the model of Gleevec, the highly effective drug that targets a specific alteration in leukemia.

Read More

The uncontrolled cell growth that is a common characteristic of cancer is often compared to a broken switch. This is sometimes the case with the tyrosine kinases (TK), a class of molecular switches controlling cell growth, which can cause cancer when altered, sometimes as a result of fusion with cellular protein. Pao is leading a search for 100 such fusions in lung and breast cancers in order to offer fresh therapeutic targets, basing his study on the model of Gleevec, the highly effective drug that targets a specific alteration in leukemia.

Read Less

“The government tends to fund more conservative proposals that may not lead to the next breakthrough. SU2C has committed to funding the most innovative grants that can really make a large impact on cancer and cancer outcomes in the next few years.”

Therapeutically Targeting the Epigenome in Aggressive Pediatric Cancers
Charles M. Roberts, MD, PhD, Harvard Medical School

Roberts is using a model system of his own design to examine epigenetic pathways in pursuit of therapies that can reverse the nonpermanent epigenetic effects of losing the SNF5 gene. The loss affects DNA packaging and often results in an extremely lethal pediatric cancer primarily affecting children under 2 years old. Discovery of a method of reversal would translate to hope for these young patients and have far-reaching implications for almost every type of cancer.

Read More

Roberts is using a model system of his own design to examine epigenetic pathways in pursuit of therapies that can reverse the nonpermanent epigenetic effects of losing the SNF5 gene. The loss affects DNA packaging and often results in an extremely lethal pediatric cancer primarily affecting children under 2 years old. Discovery of a method of reversal would translate to hope for these young patients and have far-reaching implications for almost every type of cancer.

Read Less

“Why do I fight this disease? I’m a pediatric oncologist and I see firsthand the devastating effect that this disease can have on children and their families. And there’s nothing more motivating than seeing a child suffering to make me want to do better.”

Endogenous Small Molecules That Regulate Signaling Pathways in Cancer Cells
Rajat Rohatgi, MD, PhD, Stanford University

This project is identifying small molecules that regulate the “Hedgehog” signaling pathway, which drives the development of a large number of childhood and adult cancers. Rohatgi’s integrative approach uses tools from cell biology and chemistry to find the influential molecules and offer new hope in the treatment of a variety of cancers.

Read More

This project is identifying small molecules that regulate the “Hedgehog” signaling pathway, which drives the development of a large number of childhood and adult cancers. Rohatgi’s integrative approach uses tools from cell biology and chemistry to find the influential molecules and offer new hope in the treatment of a variety of cancers.

Read Less

“The future of cancer research is going to come from breaking down traditional barriers and approaches to solving problems and not being afraid to embrace concepts from different fields. This project really forces me to think beyond my roles as a biologist and a physician who sees patients.”

Genetic Approaches for Next Generation of Breast Cancer Tailored Programs
José M. Silva, PhD, Columbia University Medical Center

The goal of this project is to open up a new frontier of targeted therapy development by identifying specific gene functions that only serve the existence of cancer cells, with no benefit to normal cells and healthy tissue.

Read More

The goal of this project is to open up a new frontier of targeted therapy development by identifying specific gene functions that only serve the existence of cancer cells, with no benefit to normal cells and healthy tissue.

Read Less

“Every day I try to be better than I was the last day. I try to learn more than I knew the last day. I would like to provide the clinical community with noble targets so they can give more hope to the patients.”

Modulating Transcription Factor Abnormalities in Pediatric Cancer
Kimberly Stegmaier, MD, Harvard Medical School

This project targets the EWS-FLI protein, the “undruggable” cancer-promoting protein in Ewing’s sarcoma, screening a library of chemicals for those that deactivate the EWS-FLI protein to identify potential anticancer drugs.

Read More

This project targets the EWS-FLI protein, the “undruggable” cancer-promoting protein in Ewing’s sarcoma, screening a library of chemicals for those that deactivate the EWS-FLI protein to identify potential anticancer drugs.

Read Less

“Our work focuses on new approaches to drug discovery. And so, the hope is that molecules that emerge from the screen might someday actually become clinical drugs that are used in the treatment of patients.”

Noninvasive Molecular Profiling of Cancer via Tumor-Derived Microparticles
Muneesh Tewari, MD, PhD, University of Michigan

This project is developing a new approach to profiling tumors by capturing and examining “microparticles,” tiny genetic material-containing packets that are emitted by cells in the tumor tissue and circulate in the blood.

Read More

This project is developing a new approach to profiling tumors by capturing and examining “microparticles,” tiny genetic material-containing packets that are emitted by cells in the tumor tissue and circulate in the blood.

Read Less

“We’re at this point where all of this knowledge that’s been accumulated through really painstaking work is about to flip, and about to translate into new therapies, into new tests, and potentially into ways of preventing cancer.”

A Transformative Technology to Capture and Drug New Cancer Targets
Loren D. Walensky, MD, Ph.D., Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

This project brings together multiple fields—chemistry, biology, and cancer drug development—to deploy a technology that can rapidly and precisely identify cancer-causing proteins and their malignant interaction sites.

Read More

This project brings together multiple fields—chemistry, biology, and cancer drug development—to deploy a technology that can rapidly and precisely identify cancer-causing proteins and their malignant interaction sites.

Read Less

“Our job—and it’s truly a quest—is to try to find the Achilles’ heel of these cancer cells. And there may be more than one Achilles’ heel, and the only way to find them is to use new technologies. And once we do find them, then we can actually get on the path of developing drugs against them.”

Functional Oncogene Identification
David M. Weinstock, MD, Harvard Medical School

This project uses a novel system that identifies the molecular abnormalities that drive cancer formation and growth directly from patient tumors, aiming to make the molecular profiling process faster, more efficient, and more precise.

Read More

This project uses a novel system that identifies the molecular abnormalities that drive cancer formation and growth directly from patient tumors, aiming to make the molecular profiling process faster, more efficient, and more precise.

Read Less

“We want to look at a broad array of different tumor types and try to pull out new oncogene alterations. That’s something that is difficult and high risk, but it’s extremely high reward.”

Probing EBV-LMP-1’s Transmembrane Activation Domain With Synthetic Peptide
Hang (Hubert) Yin, PhD, University of Colorado at Boulder

The goal of this project is to demonstrate how the human Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which infects 90 percent of the world population, contributes to cell survival and cell division in ways that can sometimes lead to cancer.

Read More

The goal of this project is to demonstrate how the human Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which infects 90 percent of the world population, contributes to cell survival and cell division in ways that can sometimes lead to cancer.

Read Less

“We’re definitely trying to help people—trying to understand why people develop cancer and trying to give them our help for diagnosing cancers early and prevent them from the very beginning.”