Two Hutchinson Center researchers have received prestigious awards from the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation.
Bradley's breakthrough award
Dr. Robert Bradley, who joined the Center last August with a joint appointment in the Public Health Sciences Division's Herbold Computational Biology Program and the Basic Sciences Division, received a Dale F. Frey Award for Breakthrough Scientists. He is one of three recipients of the $100,000 continuation grant. The award provides additional funding to scientists completing a Runyon fellowship who have greatly exceeded the foundation's expectations and are most likely to make breakthroughs that transform the way cancer is prevented, diagnosed and treated.
Bradley studies alternative splicing—the process by which a single gene can give rise to multiple distinct proteins. This mechanism, which affects the vast majority of human genes, enormously increases the complexity of our genome and plays important roles in many tumors and genetic diseases. Gaining a better understanding of this process is important, as disruption of normal splicing can give rise to cancer.
In collaboration with clinicians, Bradley seeks to identify splicing events with important roles in tumor formation and maintenance. By combining computational and experimental techniques to understand the regulatory mechanisms underlying aberrant splicing, he aims to gain insight into fundamental tumor biology, potentially pointing the way to future therapeutics.
Skene wins three-year fellowship
Dr. Peter Skene, a postdoctoral fellow in the Basic Sciences Division, received a three-year, $156,000 fellowship award. He studies the mechanisms underlying how cells maintain a specific gene expression profile unique to that cell type. While current technologies allow the reprogramming of differentiated cells into stem cells, the therapeutic use of this technology is limited because not all cellular memory is erased. He aims to improve the reprogramming process by removing proteins responsible for cellular memory. Stem cells have great potential in regenerative medicine, such as in renewing bone marrow following chemotherapy during cancer treatment.
Skene works under the mentorship of Drs. Mark Groudine and Steve Henikoff.
The Runyon Foundation has invested more than $240 million and funded more than 3,300 young scientists since its formation in 1946. Each of its award programs is extremely competitive, with less than 10 percent of applications funded.
[Adapted from a Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation news release]