Dr. Tijana Martinov, a postdoctoral research fellow at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, has been named a Parker Scholar by the San Francisco-based Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy. She is among seven early-career researchers from leading cancer research organizations throughout the U.S. to receive a total of up to $3.1 million this year from the Parker Institute in support of their immunotherapy work.
She will use the funding to design and test T cells to effectively target and destroy cancerous cells in mouse models of multiple myeloma. Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells, a type of white blood cell, inside the bone marrow. It is the second most common blood cancer in the U.S., and it primarily strikes the elderly. Bone pain, anemia, fatigue and frequent infections are symptoms of the disease.
Ultimately, Martinov hopes to translate her findings from the lab to the clinic.
“I am very excited to be named a Parker Scholar and to join forces with the many talented researchers here at the Hutch and within the Parker Institute as we solve critical questions in cancer immunotherapy,” she said.
Martinov, a native of Belgrade, Serbia, joined the Hutch team of Dr. Phil Greenberg on Feb. 1. She received her Ph.D. last December from the Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer Biology Program at the University of Minnesota Medical School, where she did her predoctoral research in the laboratory of Dr. Brian Fife, an expert in autoimmunity. Prior to that, Martinov attended Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and worked alongside immunologist Dr. Devavani Chatterjea.
Her Hutch mentor, Dr. Phil Greenberg, head of the Program in Immunology at Fred Hutch, joined the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy in 2017. The institute brings together more than 300 scientists from the academic, nonprofit, biotech and pharma sectors “to build a smarter and more coordinated cancer immunotherapy research effort to save lives.”
“We are extremely happy to have Tijana join our team; she was extraordinarily productive as a graduate student,” Greenberg said, “and we believe she is an ideal young investigator for pursuing and achieving success with this project.”
Martinov will also be working with Fred Hutch immunology researcher Dr. Anthony Rongvaux, who has developed humanized mouse models that should facilitate her studies, Greenberg said.
Kristen Woodward, a former associate editor at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, had been in communications at Fred Hutch for more than 20 years. Before that, she was a managing editor at the University of Michigan Health System and a reporter/editor at The Holland Sentinel, a daily in western Michigan. She has received many national awards for health and science writing. She received her B.A. in journalism from Michigan State University.