Duke Cancer Institute has seven basic, clinical, and translational NCI-Designated research programs that address research opportunities that impact cancer care.
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Six of the thirty Duke University researchers named to the 2023 Clarivate list of highly cited researchers are Duke Cancer Institute members. To make the cut, a published paper has to be ranked in the top 1% for its field for the last decade. Clarivate’s “Institute for Scientific Information” crunches all the numbers. There are 6,938 highly cited scientists this year, from 69 countries and regions. Several appear in more than one division. The United States still dominates with 38 percent of the honorees, but Chinese scientists are on the rise at 16 percent. Categories & DCI Faculty Cited Neuroscience and Behavior: Quinn Ostrom, PhD Biology and Biochemistry: Charles A. Gersbach, PhD Cross-Field: Robert Lefkowitz, MD || Jason Locasale, PhD || Christopher Newgard, PhD || Bryce B. Reeve, PhD Microbiology: Barton F. Haynes, PhD Read Full List on the Duke Research Blog Last Year's Rankings Most of the faculty listed above were also "highly cited" in 2021 and 2022, including Robert Lefkowitz, MD(in Biology and Biochemistry),Barton Haynes, MD(in Microbiology),Charles Gersbach, PhD(in Biology and Biochemistry),Jason Locasale, PhD(in Cross-Field), andChristopher Newgard, PhD(in Cross-Field). Quinn T. Ostrom, PhD, MPH, MA(Neuroscience and Behavior) made her first-ever appearance on the list in 2022, making this year her second.Ostrom is a cancer epidemiologist with specialized training in genetic epidemiology. Her research seeks to identify genetic factors that increase the risk of developing a brain tumor as well as those that affect prognosis after diagnosis. Read More in the Duke Department of Neurosurgery blog
Duke Cancer Institute has named five DCI faculty to new leadership roles. Cancer Genetics Andrew Berchuck, MD, and Jennifer Plichta, MD, MS, have been named co-directors of Cancer Genetics at DCI. They replace breast surgical oncologist Carolyn Menendez, MD, who has a new role as director of Clinical Cancer Genetics, National Oncology, Precision Oncology, and TeleOncology Programs, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (based in Durham). Berchuck, a gynecologic oncologist, is chief of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology. He is the James M. Ingram Distinguished Professor of Gynecologic Oncology and a professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Plichta, a breast surgical oncologist, is director of the Duke Breast Risk Assessment Clinic. She is an associate professor in the Departments of Surgery and Population Health Sciences and is a BIRCWH scholar. The aims of the Clinical Cancer Genetics Program include advancing cancer genetics research, establishing a carriers clinic and expanding point-of-care across all disease sites. Neuro-Oncology Research Program Gerald Grant, MD, has been named co-leader of the NCI-designated DCI Neuro-Oncology Research Program. Grant replaces David Ashley, PhD, FRACP, MBBS (Hons), who has decided to step down from this role. Grant joins Kyle Walsh, MD, current co-leader of the program. Grant, a professor in the Department of Neurosurgery, is chair of the Department of Neurosurgery and a pediatric neurosurgeon. Radiation Oncology and Imaging Research Program Chuan-Yuan Li, DSc, has been named co-leader of the NCI-designated DCI Radiation Oncology and Imaging Research Program. Li joins Nimmi Ramanujam, PhD, and Manisha Palta, MD, current co-leaders of the program. Li replaces David Kirsch, MD, PhD, who was recently named director of the Radiation Medicine Program at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto, Canada. Li, a professor in the Departments of Dermatology and Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, is the vice chair for research in the Department of Dermatology and an affiliate member of the Duke Regeneration Center, Regeneration Next Initiative. Li has previously served as co-chair of the DCI’s Scientific Review Committee. DCI Scientific Review Committee Kris Wood, PhD, has been appointed co-chair of the DCI Scientific Review Committee, replacing Chuan-Yuan Li, DSc, who's been named co-program leader for Radiation Oncology and Imaging. Wood, an associate professor in the Departments of Pharmacology & Cancer Biology and Cell Biology, is a member of the DCI Precision Cancer Medicine and Investigational Therapeutics Research Program. He is also core faculty with Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship.
Duke Cancer Institute member Gerard C. Blobe, MD, PhD, has beenelected as a 2022 AAAS Fellowby the American Association for the Advancement of Science, one of the most distinct honors in the scientific community.A professor of Medicine, Pharmacology & Cancer Biology, and Cell biology, Blobe was recognized with this lifelong honor for distinguished contributions to the field of cancer biology, particularly in TGF-beta signaling pathways in cancer biology (the focus of his lab) and for tireless mentorship and service.Blobe directs theDCI Office of Cancer Research Training Education Coordination, which coordinates training programs focusing on cancer physicians, scientists, and health professionals;develops new educational and training opportunities; andserves as the liaison with theCTSIand schools at Duke University with the goal of integrating cancer career opportunities across the Duke system.Blobe was one of two faculty elected from the Duke University School of Medicine as an 2022 AAAS Fellow. From Duke, Steven B. Haase, PhD, was also elected an AAAS Fellow this year.From DCI Blobe joinsRobert J. Lefkowitz, MD;Joseph Heitman, MD, PhD;Micah A. Luftig, PhD(2019); Mark Dewhirst, DVM, PhD; who were elected as AAAS Fellows in previous years.
(This article was originally published on Nov. 4, 2022)More than 1.5 million women in theU.S. are currently on endocrine therapies (hormone therapies) for breast cancer — either as monotherapiesor in combination with other drugs.These drugs and drug combinationshave been found to work well, in somecases for many years until they don’t. Recently it has been demonstrated that mutations can develop in genes within breast cancer cellsthat render even the best endocrine therapies ineffective. While moreand more women are living with stage 4 breast cancer (upwardof 150,000), 42,000 die of metastatic breast cancer each year.Metastasis, cancer that has spread to distant organs, is the majorcause of breast cancer death.The majority of breast tumors (~75%) have receptors for estrogens within cancer cells and such cancers are classified as ER+. When estrogens bind to these receptors, they can drive processes responsible for tumor growth and metastasis.One type of anti-estrogen hormone therapy (endocrine therapy) — aselectiveestrogenreceptormodulator (SERM) — works by binding to the estrogen receptors present in cancer cells and in the body’s immune cells. This stops the estrogens from binding and driving cancer cell growth. Another type of endocrine therapy, aromatase inhibitors, suppresses estrogen synthesis.SERMs (such as tamoxifen), aromatase inhibitors (such as anastrozole, letrozole, or exemestane), andcyclin-dependentkinase 4/6 inhibitors (therapies that target the CDK4 and CDK6 enzymes important to cell division, such as abemaciclib, ribociclib, and palbociclib) — taken alone or in combinations thereof — are currently used as first- and second-line treatments for ER+ breast cancer. (CDK 4/6 inhibitors are targeted therapies, not endocrine therapies)Unfortunately, the majority of patients with metastaticER+breast cancer will eventually develop resistance to these drugs.When this happens, oncologists may try a different type of endocrine therapy, aselectiveestrogenreceptordownregulator (SERD),which, like a SERM works bytargeting the estrogen receptor in cancer cells and the body’s immune cells, but instead ofblocking estrogen bybindingto theestrogen receptor like a SERM, itblocks estrogen bydegradingthe estrogen receptor.The only drug of this class (SERD) approved for clinical use in ER+ breast cancer is fulvestrant (first FDA-approved in 2002), which has been shown to have only modest efficacy.Additionally,as an injectable drug, the administration of fulvestrant can be very uncomfortable for patients.
For the first time since 2019, the Duke Cancer Institute Scientific Retreat was held in person with a full program followed by a poster session and mingling. Held on December 2, 2022, the retreat attracted around 90 faculty, staff, and trainees (students, residents, fellows, postdocs, etc.).There was also a virtual option, which an additional 184 individuals took advantage of — whether out of convenience or caution during a season of rising Covid-19, Flu, and RSV infections.“Good afternoon, everybody. It's a pleasure to welcome you to the ninth annual Duke Cancer Institute Scientific Retreat. It's wonderful to be able to be in person again. I know this is a hybrid meeting, so we don't have everyone here. Maybe 15% of the audience is in person — but this is better than zero," said Executive Director of Duke Cancer Institute and host of the event Michael B. Kastan, MD, PhD. "We have a wonderful afternoon planned with selections of the top abstracts from each of the Cancer Center programs, a faculty presentation by Dr. Epplein that we're very much looking forward to, and then our keynote speaker for the Colvin lecture, Peggy Goodell from Baylor will be wrapping up the afternoon prior to the poster session.”Commemorations of DCI's 50th Anniversary as a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center were in evidence in nearly every presenter’s PowerPoint — emphasizing their pride in the tremendous impact of current and former DCI investigators and clinicians on cancer research and patient care in the U.S. and around the world.Seven DCI Trainee Members — one from each of DCI's seven basic, clinical, and translational National Cancer Institute-Designated Research Programs — were selected by program leaders and the scientific review committee to present their research at the retreat. (Previous to the retreat all trainees were invited to submit, for oral-presentation consideration, an abstract on their research project).Six of the trainees received a $1,000 award from the DCI and the trainee with the most innovative basic-science research project, as is customary at the annual retreat, received the Robert and Barbara Bell Basic Science Cancer Research Award in the amount of $5,000.Each trainee was introduced by either their mentor or a research-program faculty leader and took questions after their presentation. Between affirmations, friendly critiques, probing questions, and ideas for further exploration, there was no debating that the learning was infectious.In three presentations, the learnings were literally “infectious.”Meira Epplein, PhD, MS, MA—co-leader with Katherine Garman, MD,of the National Cancer Institute-designated DCI Cancer Risk, Detection and Interception Research Program (CRDI) — plus two of seven top trainees addressed, each from different angles, the bacterial and viral associations with and molecular drivers of gastric cancer, and potential strategies for both treating it and stopping its development before it starts.Other topics of the afternoon included:a patient experience study on barriers and facilitators to care in Black patients with newly diagnosed leukemia (specifically AML);a pathology/immunochemistry computational mapping study — deep learning — to characterize the features of the immune micro-environment landscape;novel approaches for: targeting fusion-driven rhabdomyosarcomas; targeting glioblastoma stem cells, otherwise known as brain-tumor initiating cells; and making breast cancer more receptive to treatment with immunotherapies by using targeted therapy/vaccinationand a review, by the keynote speaker, of the mechanisms that regulate hematopoietic stem cells and how they go awry in blood cancersGastric Cancer in Focus
Global biotech company Seagen Inc. announced positive topline results last month of a pivotal phase 2 clinical trial (called MOUNTAINEER) of tucatinib in combination with trastuzumab in HER2-positive metastatic colorectal cancer. Both drugs are used in breast cancer, a type of cancer where HER2 amplification is common. HER2 amplification is uncommon, however, in colorectal cancer.The idea to test these drugs in HER2-positive colorectal cancer patients was initiated by Duke Cancer Institute GI oncologist and co-leader of DCI's Precision Cancer Medicine and Investigational Therapeutics Research Program, John Strickler, MD, who first reached out to Seagen (then Cascadian Therapeutics and the maker of tucatinib) around 2015.On August 8, 2017, the first patient nationwide to be accrued — Elle Charnisky — began the trial at DCI.Now a 5-year metastatic colorectal cancer survivor, Charnisky is still going strong and most recently shared her story at the DCI 50th Anniversary celebration held on April 14, 2022.Strickler will present the full data at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) World Congress on Gastrointestinal Cancer in Barcelona, Spain — to be held June 29 through July 2, 2022. According to Seagen, "data from this trial will form the basis of a planned supplemental New Drug Application to the FDA under the FDA’s Accelerated Approval Program."
Searching For & Finding Cancers' Achilles Heels: The Eighth Annual DCI Scientific Retreat Was One for the Books
The Duke Cancer Institute 8th Annual Scientific Retreat, held on December 3, 2021, attracted a broad array of faculty, trainees (students, residents, fellows, postdocs, etc.) and staff.For a second year, the retreat was entirely virtual and there were no poster presentations owing to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.“Hopefully, this will be the last time that we have to do it this way,” said executive director of DCI, Michael Kastan, MD, PhD, welcoming participants over Zoom.That it was virtual didn't stop a series of lively discussions from moving full-steam ahead on a full Friday afternoon on topics such as DCI cancer health equity and engagement strategies, viral lymphomas, bone loss as a CLL co-morbidity, ways around immune system evasion, cardio-protective cancer therapy, new approaches for treating head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, clues as to how cystic lesions progress to pancreatic cancer, unlocking immune dysfunction in glioblastoma, cholesterol-control drugs and cancer, and the PARP revolution.“We have a very full agenda today with great science from Duke trainees and faculty and are also celebrating several different anniversaries. First, it's my 10th anniversary as director of the Duke Cancer Institute and I have to say it's been a real privilege of my life to be in this role and to be able to work with such extraordinary people here. And I couldn't be more proud of everything that all the staff and all the faculty have done during the time that I've been here," said Kastan. "We're also celebrating the 50th anniversary of the National Cancer Act, which was signed in 1971, and put us down the path to NCI-designated cancer centers. The Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center (now DCI) was one of the original eight."Kastan also noted that DCI's own 50th was on the horizon."This year we begin celebrating our 50th anniversary. We've made a tremendous impact on cancer research and patient care in the U.S. and around the world.”
UPDATE 2 (May 10, 2021): The 24-member DCI team raised $7,895.27, topping the Top Corporate Teams leaderboard and coming in third on the Top Teams list. Team co-captain Karen Johnson, MD, MS, took the number 6 spot on the Top Participants leaderboard, having raised $2,793.20.UPDATE 1 (May 1, 2021): WRAL aired an interview with Sarah Sammons, MD, on the day of the Triangle Race for the Cure — Doctor, daughter, cheerleader sees all angles of breast cancer fightDCI oncologists and researchers are supporting the Komen mission “for a cure” — fighting breast cancer on all fronts. Learn more & join them on May 1!The 2021 Susan G. Komen Triangle Race for the Cure, presented by Duke Cancer Institute, is tomorrow — May 1, but it’s not too late to join Team DCI (virtually) at the event !This year's event will be streamed through the event Facebook page and YouTube. The Race-Day program includes:a live warm-up at 10 a.m. to send you off and running (or walking) on your 5K self-designed routesa survivor/thriver virtual meet-uprecognition of the top fundraising individuals and teamsvideotaped messages of support from the communityIt’s a #RaceWhereYouAre experience. Whether in your neighborhood, the park, the forest, the beach…the sky is literally the limit.Registration, at a cost of $25, will close at midnight on May 1 (the very end of Saturday), with donations continuing to be accepted well after Race Day. Once you register, you’ll have access to the virtual Race-Day program, but you'll get your Race-Day packet with a t-shirt, bib and a DCI visor in the mail after the event.Team DCI in currently in second place in the Corporate Challenge and climbing. Captained by an all-star lineup of DCI breast oncologists and researchers including Sarah Sammons, MD, Susan Dent, MD, FRCPC, Karen Johnson, MD, MS, Vijay Paryani, MD, and Laura Rosenberger, MD, MS, Team DCI is raising critically important funds for patient support and breast cancer research.They’re champions for the cause. Committed to showing support for their patients on Race-Day. And committed to bringing new treatments and treatment strategies to their patients.“Race-Day is an incredible atmosphere. It’s an atmosphere of achievement and celebration and those two emotions don’t always partner very readily with the words ‘breast cancer,’” said DCI breast radiologist and new-to-the team co-captain Karen Johnson. “So, for the women who have that diagnosis and all of the women who fear that diagnosis, Race-Day is very special. It shows us that there is a community of support and love and it brings us hope.”Johnson’s research interests include detecting and diagnosing early-stage breast cancer so women have the best chance possible to conquer the disease early.“The appropriate and best use of breast MRI is of specific interest to me as well as finding ways to help women cope with and reduce the anxiety experienced in conjunction with mammography,” she said.Vijay Paryani is a breast medical oncologist who sees patients at Duke Women’s Cancer Care Raleigh and Duke Cancer Center Cary. He also does inpatient consults at WakeMed as part of the new Cancer Care + initiative.Paryani is new to DCI, having joined Duke in August 2020 directly after completing his fellowship at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Like Johnson, this is his first year serving as a team co-captain. He’s all-in for the Triangle Race for the Cure and all-in for his patients.“When my patients see me, they may be going through the scariest and most difficult time in their lives. My goal is always to do everything in my power to improve their physical and emotional well-being. My patients are family to me,” said Paryani who's committed to bringing new clinical trial opportunities to DCI’s Wake County locations. “I have witnessed firsthand the devastating effect this disease can have patients and their families.”“Our patients who’ve been facing both breast cancer and the isolation of a global pandemic need us now more than ever,” said Sarah Sammons, MD, who this year was named first ever medical chair for the Komen Triangle Race for the Cure. “As a breast oncologist and clinical researcher, I support Susan G. Komen in their endeavors to raise funds specifically related to grant funding of research to find novel therapies for early stage and late stage/metastatic breast cancer.”
Research led by Duke Cancer Institute’s Jen-Tsan Ashley Chi, MD, PhD could have implications for the successful treatment of certain types of ovarian, breast and kidney cancerThe American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) has named Jen-Tsan Ashley Chi, MD, PhD, as co-winner of the Molecular Cancer Research Michael B. Kastan Award for Research Excellence on behalf of his all-Duke research team for their paper — A TAZ-ANGPTL4-NOX2 Axis Regulates Ferroptotic Cell Death and Chemoresistance in Epithelial Ovarian Cancer. Chi is co-director of the Cancer Biology Research Program at Duke Cancer Institute and directs his own lab within the Duke Center for Genomic and Computational Biology that's focused on the adaptation and response of cancer cells to various stresses in the tumor micro-environment. He's an associate professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, an associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology & Cancer Biology, an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine, and an assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology.The Michael B. Kastan Award for Research Excellence is formally bestowed on the first or corresponding author of an article in Molecular Cancer Research (the flagship AACR journal for fundamental cancer research discoveries) that's had a significant impact on the fields represented by the journal, but all co-authors are named as recipients of the award in recognition of the importance of team science. The MCR editor-in-chief and two additional editors for the journal select the award recipient (s) — prioritizing those articles that “have the potential to shift paradigms, inspire translational activity, and raise awareness of new scientific areas” and which are “representative of the journal in terms of originality/ novelty, scientific/clinical merit, and/or impact/significance."Chi’s co-authors on the winning paper, which was published in the January 2020 issue of MCR, include: Wen-Hsuan Yang, PhD (first author of the paper, then a PhD student in the Chi Lab; Zhiqing Huang, MD, PhD (assistant professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology and a DCI member); Jianli Wu, BS (lab research analyst 1 in the Chi Lab); Chien-Kuang C. Ding, MD, PhD (with Duke at time of publication; now a pathology resident with the University of California, San Francisco); and Susan K. Murphy, PhD (associate professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology and a DCI member).Given yearly since 2019, the award was established by AACR in 2018 in honor of Michael B. Kastan, MD, PhD, the journal's founding editor-in-chief (in 2002). (Kastan, who has served as executive director of Duke Cancer Institute since 2011, plays no role in the selection process.)AACR created the award in recognition of Kastan’s “vision and dedication to publishing exceptional scientific findings” that facilitated the field’s understanding of factors that influence cancer development and progression at the molecular level.“It has been humbling that the AACR has honored me in this way for my efforts with this journal over the years," said Kastan, an experienced investigator recognized for his discoveries in molecular biology, signal transduction and DNA damage and repair, "but I have to admit that having the award go to a DCI member this year is truly special. Dr. Chi is an exceptional scientist and I am so proud to have him as a colleague.”“I feel very honored to receive this prestigious award named for Dr. Kastan and I appreciate the excellent work of my lab members, especially first author Wen-Hsuan Yang and Susan Murphy,” said Chi.A Novel ApproachOvarian cancer is the deadliest gynecologic cancer. Despite recent advances in targeted and chemotherapy treatments, ovarian cancer cells like other cancer cells eventually develop a resistance to these treatments. Clinical outcomes remain poor, necessitating novel therapeutic approaches.Chi and his team have found, through nutrient drop-out screening/testing of 15 amino acids on a panel of nine clear cell and serous ovarian cancer cells, that most ovarian cancer cells need and are addicted to cystine — an amino acid (protein building block) that’s found in most high-protein foods, including chicken, turkey, yogurt, cheese, eggs, sunflower seeds and legumes.Depriving ovarian cancer cells of cystine, they discovered, leads to ferroptosis — a form of iron-dependent regulated cell death. Cystine deprivation starts this process of necrosis by generating a pore in the cell membrane that allows water to enter the cell, resulting in its death.Conventional chemotherapy, meanwhile, triggers a different form of cell death called apoptosis. Because these two methods use different mechanisms to kill cancer cells, cystine deprivation may be able to kill tumors that have proven resistant to some chemotherapy treatments.“Ovarian cancer cells have a special need for outside nutrients that may allow us to pre-emptively reduce or eradicate the recurrent disease. Just as we require food (sugars or proteins) and oxygen to live, our cells also rely on outside nutrients they must obtain from their environment for their survival,” Chi explained. “Compared to normal cells, cancer cells often have increased and different demands for nutrients from the surrounding environment, including the extracellular amino acid cystine, for survival. The removal of cystine rapidly triggers a special kind of cell death called “ferroptosis” that even resistant cells are still sensitive to. Most amino acids, when you take them out, the cancer cells just stop growing, but they can still live. Cystine they just can’t deal without, and they die very extensively.”In addition, the research team found that the cell density makes a difference as to how sensitive the tumor cells are to cystine deprivation. While tumor cells grown far apart were very sensitive to cystine-deprived death, the same tumors became much less sensitive when grown crowded together. This discovery led them to the conclusion that a cell density sensor, TAZ, actually promotes the ferroptosis of the ovarian cancer cell lines. Since TAZ is an important protein regulating tumor growth and metastasis, their results suggest that ferroptosis may be particularly effective in TAZ-activated tumors.This research — reported out in the team's award-winning MCR paper — was partially funded, noted Chi, by a previous DCI pilot grant award to him and Murphy. The work will be further supported by a U.S. Department of Defense Ovarian Cancer Research Program grant to determine the therapeutic potential of using ferroptosis to fight chemotherapy-resistant ovarian cancer tumors. The team will attempt to remove cystine in mice (from those with ovarian cancer and also from those with renal cancer) using a novel form of recombinant cyst(e)inase — a human-engineered enzyme that acts on TAZ-activated tumors to trigger this ferroptosis.Recombinant cyst(e)inase is currently being developed by a drug company for clinical trials in various other (non-cancer) diseases.“We believe that triggering ferroptosis in cancer cells may overcome resistance to chemotherapy in ovarian and other TAZ-activated cancers as novel treatments,” said Chi, who’s spent the past 10 or 11 years investigating and publishing on the nutrient addictions of cancer cells in breast, ovarian and kidney cancers. “We have also found cystine addiction in triple-negative breast cancer cells and in renal (kidney) cancer cells that have lost the VHL tumor suppressor genes.”Chi added that treatment with cyst(e)inase could be further enhanced by adding immunotherapy or radiation to the treatment mix."Dr. Chi is an exceptionally creative scientist," said Steven Patierno, PhD, an internationally recognized expert in cancer control, cancer causation and molecular carcinogenesis who serves as deputy director of DCI. "He and his team are at the forefront of a rapidly evolving and critical aspect of translational cancer biology, at the intersection between tumor cell addiction to specific micronutrients and activation of novel pathways of cell death that may further sensitize tumor cells to targeted therapies. The pathways that this team are teasing out are themselves highly druggable and may be targets for future precision oncology approaches. Dr. Chi is highly deserving of this extraordinary award."Chi’s research team shares the 2021 Michael B. Kastan Award for Research Excellence with a research team led by David Maag, PhD, senior scientific director of AbbVie, Inc. in North Chicago, Illinois, for their paper — PARP1 Trapping by PARP Inhibitors Drives Cytotoxicity in Both Cancer Cells and Healthy Bone Marrow — published in the February 2019 issue of Molecular Cancer Research.The awardees and their winning papers are being highlighted this week at the 2021 (virtual) AACR Annual Meeting — April 10 to 15. (Week two will be held from May 17 to 21). The award is accompanied by a $500 cash prize and a certificate to each of the team leaders.Previous winners of the Michael B. Kastan Award for Research Excellence include Mohamed E. Salem with Levine Cancer Institute (2020) and Kenjiro Sawada with Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, Suita, in Japan (2019).