V Researchers

Success Stories

Andrew A. Lane, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Andrew Lane of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is a 2014 V Scholar, and his research project, which The V Foundation helped fund, focuses on understanding the difference in cancer between men and women. Men have a higher risk of developing cancer than women. This increased risk is almost completely unexplained and occurs across socioeconomic, racial and occupational differences. One important difference between men and women is the number and type of sex chromosomes: men have one X and one Y, women have two X’s. Lane hypothesized that differences in the number of X chromosomes might contribute to the elevated […]

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Paul J. Hergenrother, Ph.D.

Most cells have a limited life span and eventually die of old age triggered by an internal death signal. But cancer cells don’t respond to this death signal.  Sometimes, the activation of the death signal is blocked. V Foundation funded scientist Dr. Paul Hergenrother’s and his team at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign  (UIUC) identified a molecule called PAC-1 which activates the death signal. They found that by combining PAC-1 with existing chemotherapeutics makes the drugs more effective. Breast cancer is a type of cancer that seems to be particularly susceptible to this PAC-1 – chemo drug combination. Dr. Hergenrother […]

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Fatih Uckun, M.D., Ph. D.

Fatih Uckun, M.D., Ph.D., was awarded a 2011 V Foundation Translational Grant to fund immunotherapy research aimed at improving treatments for leukemia patients. The promising results indicate his laboratory successes could very well become weapons against not only leukemia, but also difficult to treat cancers. B-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common form of childhood cancer and the second most common form of acute leukemia in adults. Patients with this diagnosis typically respond well to chemotherapy. However, when the patient relapses, treatment becomes much more difficult. Positive results are harder to obtain. Dr. Uckun enthusiastically took on the […]

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Hai Yan, M.D., Ph.D.

Since 1998, The V Foundation for Cancer Research has invested $3.25 million in brain cancer research by awarding six V Scholar Grants, three Translational Grants, and two Designated Grants. Dr. Hai Yan, at Duke University, is the 2012 Designated Grant recipient of $1 million to develop a new approach to target a highly aggressive form of brain cancer called gliomas. Dr. Yan’s research is funded by a joint grant made by The V Foundation, in partnership with Accelerate Brain Cancer Cures (ABC2). ABC2 is a non-profit foundation based in Washington, D.C., raising money to support cancer research. Some of the […]

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Luis Carvajal-Carmona, Ph.D.

January 21, 2015 Hispanic women have a lower risk of developing breast cancer than their Caucasian, African-American or Asian counterparts. Dr. Luis Carvajal-Carmona, a 2013 V Scholar Grant recipient from The University of California, Davis, and his colleagues have discovered a BRCA1 mutation or variant in the genetic sequence upstream of the estrogen receptor gene on Chromosome 6 that may partly explain this phenomenon. This variant is relatively common in Latin American populations but is almost absent from people of European, African American and Chinese heritage. Read more…

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Mo Motamedi, Ph.D.

January 21, 2015 Dr. Mo Motamedi at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Boston has been using his 2012 V Scholar Grant to research cancer through a study of yeast cells. The genes that humans share with yeast are the most elemental and vital genes an organism needs for life. Against this simple genetic background, Motamedi looks for the effects of a molecular memory system—called epigenetics—which keeps the inheritance of genes “true” during rounds of cell division in yeast and humans. Motamedi’s research may lead to the development of new drugs and new strategies for reprogramming cancer cells to make […]

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Benjamin Ebert, M.D., Ph.D.

December 4, 2014 Dr. Benjamin Ebert, a 2013 V Foundation Translational Grant recipient, and his team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston recently published an intriguing study that looked at pre-cancer signs in blood cancers. Ebert led one of two research teams that worked independently on decoding DNA in about 30,000 people. Blood cancers account for about 10% of new cancer cases diagnosed in the United States. The cells that cause cancer must mutate several times before the cancer actually develops. Ebert and his team aimed to find that initial mutation in the cell so that they could look […]

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Nora Heisterkamp, Ph.D.

July 8, 2014 V Foundation Translational Grant recipient Dr. Nora Heisterkamp and her colleagues at The Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles recently published significant research findings regarding acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. ALL, which is more common in children, is characterized by an overproduction of immature white blood cells (lymphoblasts). The lymphoblasts continuously multiply in the bone marrow, causing the damage or destruction of normal blood cells. Heisterkamp and her team have discovered that by using an antibody to target a particular receptor found on chemotherapy-resistant cells, they can selectively kill cancer cells both […]

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Zachary T. Schafer, Ph.D.

May 27, 2014 A team of researchers led by 2011 V Scholar Grant recipient Dr. Zachary T. Schafer, Coleman Assistant Professor of Cancer Biology at The University of Notre Dame, has uncovered important new data about carcinoma-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) and their role in tumor biology. CAFs play a major role in tumor progression, but exactly how is not understood. In their paper, Schafer and his team describe a critical role of CAFs in blocking anoikis, a cell death process that inhibits the spread of tumor cells to distant sites, through the secretion of insulin-like growth factor-binding proteins (IGFBPs). They revealed the […]

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Timothy Burns, M.D., Ph.D.

November 21, 2013 Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death. More people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. Finding the right therapy for lung cancer has proven difficult. Recent research has focused on sequencing different lung cancer mutations and allowing researchers to identify effective drug variations for some of those mutations. Dr. Timothy Burns is a 2013 V Scholar Grant recipient with a personal connection to lung cancer. Having lost both parents to the disease, he is focused on researching targeted therapies for the KRAS mutation of non-small cell lung cancer. The […]

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