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2022 Directors Award and Pilot Award Recipients

November 04, 2022

The University of Kansas Cancer Center announced its 2022 recipients of the Director’s Awards, which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the cancer center’s mission, and Pilot Awards, which funds promising novel research being conducted by cancer center members. 

Recipients were announced at The University of Kansas Cancer Center’s annual Research Week, which celebrates research led by cancer center members. The week began with a State of the Cancer Center address from Roy Jensen, MD, vice chancellor and director of the KU Cancer Center. The week wrapped up with a daylong symposium featuring speakers selected by the cancer center’s research program leaders. Other activities throughout the week included presentations by our research faculty and patient research advocates.

Director’s Award Recipients

  • Civic Leadership and Philanthropy: Matt Anthony, Founder, Head for the Cure
  • Clinical Trial Accrual: Anup Kasi, MD, MPH, Associate Professor, Medical Oncology
  • Community Clinical Trial Accrual : Carolyn Savioz, MD
  • Young Scientist: Christy Hagan, PhD, Associate Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • William Jewell Team Science: Kick it at Swope team
  • Closing Disparities: Lisa Sanderson Cox, PhD, Professor, Population Health
  • Basic Science: Jennifer Gerton, PhD, Investigator, Stowers Institute for Medical Research
  • Clinical Science: Joseph McGuirk, DO, Division Director, Hematologic Malignancies and Cellular Therapeutics
  • Legislator: Sharice Davids, U.S. House of Representatives
  • Outstanding Staff: Teresa Christenson, Associate Vice Chancellor
  • Mentoring: Megha Ramaswamy, PhD, MPH, Associate Director, Cancer Workforce Equity

Pilot Award Recipients

Each recipient receives approximately $50,000 in funding.

Fariba Behbod, PharmD, PhD - Chemopreventive mechanism of carnosic acid/rosemary extract in breast cancer
Andrés Bur, MD - Radiomic predictors of response in patients receiving immunotherapy for advanced cutaneous melanoma
Gregory Gan, MD, PhD - Small molecule enhances anti-cancer tumor radiosensitivity via activation of the cGASSTING pathway
Mary Markiewicz, PhD - The effect of NKG2D ligand expression on NK cells on NK cell immunotherapy for leukemia/lymphoma
Gary (Doug) Myers, MD - Role of macrophages and tumor structure in modulating chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell activity in solid tumors

PIVOT Speaker Recipients 

Awardees receive $600 each.

Harmony Saunders – Cancer Biology: The role of O-GlcNAcylation on progesterone receptor in breast tumor biology
Dinesh Pal Mudaranthakam – Cancer Prevention & Control: Barriers to Clinical Trial Participation: Comparative Study Between Rural and Urban Participants
Siddarth Subham/Mackenzie Thornton (split) – Drug Discovery, Delivery and Experimental Therapeutics: Designing bispecific CAR-T cells targeting TNBC

Travel Award Recipients

Recipients receive support to attend conferences and/or scientific meetings.

Student Poster Travel Awards

TIE for 1st place
Hongyi  Ren – MDM2 enhances taxane sensitivity by inducing STMN1 degradation
Lauryn Werner - Progesterone impacts the growth and immune cell infiltration of murine mammary gland tumors

2nd place
Camille Trinidad - Identification of Novel Biomarkers for High Grade Serous Ovarian Cancer Screening via Extracellular Vesicle Proteomic Profiling

3rd place
McKinnon Walsh - SHP2 promotes tumorigenesis through PLCG1

Trainee Poster Awards 

1st place
Soumya Turaga - KIF11 and AURKA inhibition synergistically impairs Ewing Sarcoma growth

2nd place
Divya Kamath - Novel Polyplex Based Delivery System Across A Mucosal Barrier

3rd place
Harshani Wijerathne - Liquid biopsy-based screening test for early detection of ovarian cancer

Junior Faculty Awards 

1st place
Prabhu Ramamoorthy – Gedunin, a Hsp90 inhibitor increases mitochondrial associated ER membrane formation and mitochondrial calcium to undergo mitophagy and apoptosis in Triple Negative Breast Cancer cells.

TIE for 2nd place
Alejandro Parrales - Targeting vulnerabilities of wild-type p53-deficient cancer cells
John Perry - A genomics driven pluripotent stem cell model of infant acute lymphoblastic leukemia

3rd place
Obdulia Covarrubias-Zambrano - Early detection of pancreatic cancer by means of liquid biopsy

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