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Fred Hutch announces recipients of the 4th annual Dr. Eddie Méndez Award

Award honors postdoctoral researchers from underrepresented groups in science
Individual photos of the 10 awardees

SEATTLE — June 22, 2022 — Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center has announced 10 recipients of the 2022 Dr. Eddie Méndez award, honoring a physician-scientist and cherished colleague at Fred Hutch.

The recipients are postdoctoral researchers from across the U.S. with research expertise in cancer, infectious disease and basic sciences.

Applications were solicited from universities and cancer research centers around the U.S., this year’s awardees reflect the spirit of Dr. Méndez and represent a breadth of scientific research. Research topics include the study of emerging new coronaviruses, the identification of regulators of early-stage lung cancer, and the impact of social and environmental factors on tumor development.

"We are proud of this year’s awardees, whose accomplishments to both science and diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts are truly outstanding. We look forward to welcoming them to the Hutch this September and honoring the memory of Dr. Méndez,” said Dr. Christopher Li who is the faculty director of The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and associate director of DEI for the Fred Hutch/University of Washington Cancer Consortium. He holds the Helen G. Edson Endowed Chair for Breast Cancer Research at Fred Hutch.

“This program is one of our efforts to recognize the accomplishments of postdoctoral fellows from diverse backgrounds and support their careers,” he added.

After leaving Puerto Rico, Méndez attended Princeton University and then obtained a medical degree from University of Maryland at Baltimore. He later came to University of Washington as a resident. He was known for being passionate about developing new therapies to help prevent cancer treatment side effects and save his patients’ lives.

In 2018 Méndez died of cancer, but his commitment to supporting early-career scientists who were underrepresented in science lives on through this award that was created by Fred Hutch leaders in 2019.

“I was selected for the Eddie Méndez Symposium in 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when I felt uncertain about my research and career prospects,” said Dr. Christina Termini, assistant professor in the Hutch’s Clinical Research Division.

“My participation in the Symposium connected me with a new group of supportive scientists in and out of the Hutch, which helped reignite my drive towards a career in research," said Termini. 

Now in its fourth year, the award has recognized a total of 28 recipients and this year will add 10 more to the cohort who has become a support system to other winners.

“I was incredibly impressed by the caliber of the applicant pool,” said Termini, who served on this year’s selection committee. “From scientific accomplishments to proposed ideas to innovation within diversity, equity, and inclusion, no stone was left unturned. While it was difficult to select the awardees from such an accomplished set of scientists, those that were chosen most strongly embodied the spirit of the award.”

The award includes an honorarium for the recipients, and they will be honored at a Sept. 19-20 symposium where they will give presentations on their research findings and network with other scientists.

“This community is now a fixture in my daily life as faculty at the Hutch. Most serendipitous of all, my laboratory is now occupying a tissue culture space where Dr. Méndez’ lab worked in, which feels like the perfect place to start my research career,” said Termini.

People interested in applying for next year’s Méndez award can reach out to diversity@fredhutch.org for more information. Solicitation for the next round of applications is expected in mid-October and with applications accepted through March 2023.

2022 Dr. Eddie Méndez award recipients:

María Angélica Bravo Núñez, Ph.D.

Harvard University

 

Lesley Chapman Hannah, Ph.D.

National Cancer Institute

 

Aileen Fernandez, Ph.D.

Yale University

 

Jaye Gardiner, Ph.D.

Fox Chase Cancer Center

 

Luis Hernandez-Nunez, Ph.D.

Harvard University

 

Alexis Jaramillo Caragena, Ph.D.

Broad Institute

 

Brittany Lord, Ph.D.

National Cancer Institute

 

David Martinez, Ph.D.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

 

Aaron Moye, Ph.D.

Boston Children’s Hospital

Harvard Medical School

 

Daniel Fernando Zegarra-Ruiz, Ph.D.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

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Media Contact:

Kat Wynn                                                       
206.667.2210                                                 
kwynn@fredhutch.org   

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center (“Fred Hutch”) is an independent, nonprofit, unified adult cancer care and research center that is clinically integrated with UW Medicine, a world leader in clinical care, research and learning. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center was created in April 2022 by the merger of long-time partners, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Together, our fully integrated research and clinical care teams seek to discover new cures for the world’s deadliest diseases and make life beyond cancer a reality.

The first National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in the Pacific Northwest, Fred Hutch’s global leadership in bone marrow transplantation, HIV/AIDS, immunotherapy and COVID-19 has confirmed our reputation as one of the world’s leading cancer, infectious disease and biomedical research centers. Based in Seattle, Fred Hutch operates eight clinical care sites that provide medical oncology, infusion, radiation, proton therapy and related services, and has network affiliations with hospitals in five states.