Dr. Colleen Delaney in the Clinical Research Division is now a Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator. This year, the prestigious, three-year award went to five outstanding early career physician-scientists conducting patient-oriented cancer research at major research centers under the mentorship of the nation's leading scientists and clinicians. Delaney will receive $450,000 to support the development of her cancer-research program. The Clinical Investigator Award program helps address the serious shortage of physicians capable of translating scientific discovery into new breakthroughs for cancer patients.
Delaney and mentors Drs. Irwin Bernstein and Fred Appelbaum focus on improving on blood stem-cell transplantation. The use of umbilical-cord blood for transplantation is an attractive alternative for cancer patients who cannot identify a suitable adult donor due to being a person of color or mixed ethnicity. However, umbilical-cord blood has fewer stem cells, decreasing the likelihood of a successful transplant. Delaney has developed novel methods for increasing the concentration of stem cells in cord blood. Her mouse studies and early patient trials show encouraging results, and she plans to move this technique into larger clinical trials.
The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation has gained worldwide prominence in cancer research by identifying outstanding young scientists and physician-scientists and providing them with financial support for their research. Each of the award programs is extremely competitive, with less than 10 percent of applications funded.
There are 11 Nobel Prize winning scientists in the Damon Runyon alumni community, and numerous Damon Runyon scientists have gone on to leadership positions in science and medicine. Currently, more than 130 Damon Runyon scientists are working at leading cancer-research institutions in the United States. According to Appelbaum, since the inception of this award, more recipents have come from the Hutchinson Center than any other cancer institution in the nation.