Meet the investigators: Blood Cancer Discoveries Grants
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research, and The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group have awarded frontier scientists with deep experience in the blood cancers more than $6.75 million to conduct critical basic research on leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and myelodysplastic syndromes.
Read short biographies and research descriptions below.
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
BIOGRAPHY: Robert Bradley, Ph.D., is a computational biologist and biophysicist who works at the intersection of several different disciplines, including cancer biology, cancer-immune interactions, and RNA processing. His broad goal is to discover novel molecular mechanisms that govern cancer initiation, progression or response to therapy. He is professor of Public Health Sciences Division and professor of Basic Sciences Division of Fred Hutch.
RESEARCH: Dr. Bradley is investigating comprehensively the mutations in the SF3B1 protein and their connection with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and leukemias, and exploring this protein as a therapeutic target.
University of California San Diego
BIOGRAPHY: Catriona Jamieson, MD, PhD is a leading physician-scientist in the cancer stem cell biology field. She is a Professor of Medicine, the Koman Family Presidential Endowed Chair in Cancer Research, Deputy Director of the Moores Cancer Center and the Director of the Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center at the University of California San Diego (UCSD). Dr. Jamieson is the Director of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) Alpha Stem Cell Clinic at UCSD, which provides infrastructure to accelerate the bench to bedside development and implementation of cancer stem cell targeted and cellular immunotherapy trials for hematologic and other malignancies. Dr. Jamieson’s discoveries and pioneering cancer stem cell research have informed the development of cancer stem cell targeted therapies, including JAK2 and sonic hedgehog inhibitor trials, which resulted in two FDA approvals for myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) and leukemia.
RESEARCH: Dr. Jamieson is examining the role of two enzymes (APOBEC3 and ADAR1) known to mutate DNA and RNA, and their role in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and disease relapse, particularly in elderly patients.
University of California San Diego
BIOGRAPHY: Robert Signer, Ph.D., is a stem cell biologist whose trailblazing work on protein synthesis opened the door to uncharted areas of cellular investigation. Dr. Signer is currently an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Regenerative Medicine at the University of California San Diego. His laboratory, located in Moores Cancer Center, investigates how cell-type specific differences in protein homeostasis regulate blood-forming and leukemia stem cells.
RESEARCH: Dr. Signer is investigating how the process of building defective proteins (inaccurate protein synthesis) plays a role in the development of a type of blood cancer called acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in the hopes of developing targeted therapies to treat this condition.
Stanford University School of Medicine
BIOGRAPHY: Ronald (Ron) Levy, M.D. is the Robert K. Summy and Helen K. Summy Professor of Medicine and director of the Lymphoma Program at Stanford University School of Medicine. He is also the associate director of translational science for the Stanford Cancer Institute. For more than 25 years his research has focused on monoclonal antibodies and the study of malignant lymphoma, currently using the tools of immunology and molecular biology to develop a better understanding of the initiation and progression of the malignant process. He was the first to successfully treat cancer with a monoclonal antibody, and went on to help develop rituximab (Rituxan®) for the treatment of patients diagnosed with lymphomas. Dr. Levy is using lymphocyte receptors as targets for new therapies for lymphoma, and he is currently conducting clinical trials of in situ therapeutic vaccination. Dr. Levy is a member of the National Academy of Medicine National Academy of Sciences
RESEARCH: Dr. Levy is investigating a pre-clinical “off-the-shelf” CAR (chimeric antigen receptor) T-cell immunotherapy approach where the CAR cells are generated directly in the patient’s body.
Stanford University School of Medicine
BIOGRAPHY: Ravi Majeti MD, PhD is Professor of Medicine, Chief of the Division of Hematology, and Member of the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine. He is a board-certified hematologist. While at Stanford, he completed post-doctoral training in the laboratory of Irving Weissman, MD, where he investigated acute myeloid leukemia (AML) stem cells and therapeutic targeting with anti-CD47 antibodies. Dr. Majeti directs an active NIH-funded laboratory that focuses on the molecular characterization and therapeutic targeting of leukemia stem cells in human hematologic disorders, particularly AML, and has published >100 peer-reviewed articles. He is a recipient of the Burroughs Wellcome Career Award for Medical Scientists, the New York Stem Cell Foundation Robertson Investigator Award, and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Scholar Award. Dr. Majeti is currently a member of the Committee on Scientific Affairs for the American Society of Hematology (ASH) and serves of the editorial boards of Blood, eLife, and Cancer Discovery.
RESEARCH: Dr. Majeti is generating cell-based models to test the progression of preleukemic cells into acute myeloid leukemia (AML). His lab will use these models to test potential therapies and the role of the microenvironment in disease progression.
City of Hope
BIOGRAPHY: Over the past 10 years, the Markus Müschen laboratory has developed a multidisciplinary research program to study oncogenic signaling and clonal evolution in B cell malignancies, including acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most frequent type of cancer in children and young adults.
Müschen’s group has developed a comprehensive research program to predict relapse of ALL and other B cell-derived lymphoid malignancies, including mantle cell lymphoma and B-CLL. Applying forward genetic screens in patient-derviced xenograft (PDX) models, his drug-discovery program will leverage newly discovered vulnerabilities to broaden treatment options and validate a diagnostic test. Müschen’s research is guided through close collaboration with clinician-scientists in the Children’s Oncology Group, a clinical trials group supported by the National Cancer Institute. As principal investigator of the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program “preclinical drug-testing” project, he developed a testing platform with clinical, phenotypic and genetic annotation.
RESEARCH: Dr. Müschen studies mechanisms of tumor-initiation in B-cell malignancies, including acute lymphoblastic leukemia, mantle cell lymphoma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. These studies focus on negative regulators of the WNT/b-catenin pathway as potential diagnostic marker and therapeutic target.
BIOGRAPHY: Immunologist Susan Schwab, PhD, is an associate professor at New York University Grossman School of Medicine. Schwab studies how normal immune cells migrate through the body to find and fight infection, and how leukemia cells hijack these pathways to invade healthy tissues. Recently, she has reported on techniques to stop leukemia without damaging the body’s underlying immune system defenses.
RESEARCH: Dr. Schwab is examining the mechanism of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) cells that allow them to enter and accumulate in the central nervous system when the disease spreads to the brain.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of NYU Langone
Cincinnati Children's Research Foundation
BIOGRAPHY: Daniel T. Starczynowski, Ph.D. leads a laboratory at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital focused on the intersection of inflammation, innate immune signaling, and hematologic malignancies, with an emphasis on myelodysplastic syndromes and acute myeloid leukemia. Dr. Starczynowski is currently the Katherine Stewart Waters Endowed Chair in Hematologic Malignancies, professor in Pediatrics, and co-leader of the Hematologic Malignancies Program at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
RESEARCH: Dr. Starczynowski is investigating the role and potential benefit of therapeutic targeting of a protein called UBE2N in acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute / Harvard Medical School
BIOGRAPHY: Margaret Shipp, MD, is Chief of the Division of Hematologic Neoplasia at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Director of the Lymphoma Research Center at Dana-Farber, and a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Her research focuses on the clinical and molecular heterogeneity of the large B-cell lymphomas (LBCLs) and Hodgkin lymphomas. Dr. Shipp has led efforts to define molecular signatures of LBCLs and Hodgkin lymphomas, identify biologically distinct subsets of these diseases, and characterize associated rational treatment targets including modulators of the host anti-tumor immune response.
RESEARCH: Margaret A. Shipp, M.D. together with Scott J. Rodig, MD, PhD is mapping the immune microenvironment in classical Hodgkin lymphoma.