Dr. Sarah Zanders, a postdoctoral researcher in Fred Hutch’s Basic Sciences Division, is the recipient of a fellowship from the American Cancer Society. The $150,000 award will support her work studying battles between chromosomes for evolutionary success during the development and maturation of sperm and egg cells. Such battles can lead to chromosomal imbalances—aneuploidy—a frequent occurrence in the early evolution of many cancers.
Zanders will test what genetic loci lead to chromosomal imbalances and how to correct such imbalances using the model fission yeast. In addition, by studying the protein machinery required for meiotic cell divisions in fruit flies, she will explore the hypothesis that an ongoing arms race between selfish mobile elements and host genomes can drive evolutionary changes in this protein machinery. Nearly half of the human genome is comprised of mobile elements, which contribute to genomic instability and cancer.
"We are delighted that Sarah has received this prestigious award for her novel approaches to study an evolutionary basis for aneuploidy in a genetically tractable system," said her co-mentors Drs. Harmit Malik and Gerry Smith, both of Basic Sciences, in a statement. "We are especially happy that her research serves as a bridge between our two labs and their interests."
The American Cancer Society is a nationwide voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer. Its postdoctoral fellowship program supports the training of researchers for independent careers in cancer research.