Damon Runyon supports bold research by emerging talent.

Damon Runyon supports bold research by emerging talent.

The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation has awarded $1.22 million in grants to four early career investigators at Dana-Farber whose research has the potential to yield important breakthroughs in cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

Founded in 1946 in memory of the iconic sportswriter and journalist Damon Runyon, the foundation has since invested more than $430 million in nearly 4,000 scientists.

In 2022, the foundation continued its longstanding support of Dana-Farber investigators by awarding grants to Wallace Bourgeois, MD; Archana Krishnamoorthy, PhD; Matthew Oser, MD, PhD; and Xin Zhou, PhD.

Bourgeois received the Damon Runyon Physician-Scientist Training Award, which supports and encourages outstanding physicians without formal research training to pursue careers as physician-scientists. A postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Scott Armstrong, MD, PhD, since 2019, he will use his award to identify and test therapeutic targets for a particularly difficult-to-treat subtype of acute myeloid leukemia that is characterized by a rearrangement in the KMT2A gene.

“This award is a high honor, and we are most grateful to the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation for recognizing and rewarding Dr. Bourgeois’ exceptional talent,” said Armstrong, chair of the Department of Pediatric Oncology and the David G. Nathan, MD, Professor of Pediatrics. “His work holds tremendous promise for new treatments and, ultimately, improved outcomes for children with leukemia.”

Krishnamoorthy was awarded the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Fellowship for her research into the mechanisms by which chromosomes are shattered during chromothripsis, a recently discovered mutational process that is common in cancer. She is a fellow in the lab of David Pellman, MD, the Margaret M. Dyson Professor of Pediatric Oncology.

Oser, a thoracic oncologist who is mentored by William G. Kaelin Jr., MD, 2019 Nobel laureate and the Sidney Farber Professor of Medicine, received the Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator Continuation Grant to further his work developing targeted therapies for small cell lung cancer. The disease typically responds well to chemotherapy but almost always recurs in less than a year.

Zhou, a bioengineer and cancer biologist, received the Dale F. Frey Award for Breakthrough Scientists for her work designing innovative proteins and cells to study and target cancer. She will focus on engineering versatile functional proteins that can distinguish and respond to various cancer-specific signals within a tumor’s microenvironment. She will then advance them into next-generation molecular biotechnologies, diagnostic tools, and therapeutics. 

“We support emerging talent with unique insight, drive, and boundless vision who are likely to make discoveries that change the field of oncology,” said Yung S. Lie, PhD, the foundation’s president and CEO. “These Dana-Farber scientists have the potential to do exactly that.”

For more stories about the impact of philanthropy at Dana-Farber, please visit DanaFarberImpact.org.

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