2017 ThyCa Research Grants
Glenn J. Hanna, M.D. – Dana-Farber Cancer Institute / Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA 02215
Correlating the circulating immune profile with response to dual immune checkpoint inhibition in advanced thyroid cancer
Dr. Glenn Hanna of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham & Women’s Hospital was awarded a 2017 thyroid research grant for the project titled “Correlating the circulating immune profile with response to dual immune checkpoint inhibition in advanced thyroid cancer” by the American Thyroid Association. The grant is awarded by the ATA Research Committee, chaired by Dr. Motoyasu Saji, approved by the ATA Board of Directors and administered by the ATA Headquarters’ office. Administrative and grant tracking support provided by the ATA. Research awardees are honored at the ATA Annual Meeting and on the ATA website with additional presentations and recognition on the ATA annual meeting program. Grant funding was generously provided by the ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc. Dr. Hanna completed his residency training in internal medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and fellowship training in hematology & medical oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) in 2016. Prior to this, he earned his medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine in 2010, where he graduated summa cum laude, a member of Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society and the Kober Medalist for academic excellence. Dr. Hanna also graduated summa cum laude from the University of Florida, and is originally from the south Florida area. He joined the faculty of the Center for Head & Neck Oncology at the DFCI in 2017. His research focuses on understanding mechanisms of response and resistance to immunotherapies in head & neck and thyroid cancers.
Jens Lohr, MD, PhD – Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
Characterization of treatment response in thyroid cancer by cfDNA
Dr. Jens Lohr of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute was awarded a 2017 thyroid research grant for the project titled “Characterization of treatment response in thyroid cancer by cfDNA” by the American Thyroid Association. The grant is awarded by the ATA Research Committee, chaired by Dr. Motoyasu Saji, approved by the ATA Board of Directors and administered by the ATA Headquarters’ office. Administrative and grant tracking support provided by the ATA. Research awardees are honored at the ATA Annual Meeting and on the ATA website with additional presentations and recognition on the ATA annual meeting program. Grant funding was generously provided by the ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc. Dr. Lohr obtained his MD and PhD from Ruprecht-Karls University in Heidelberg, Germany, where he also obtained training as an immunologist. He completed a residency in internal medicine at University of California San Francisco (UCSF), and a medical oncology fellowship at the Dana-Farber/Partners Cancer Care program. He performed postdoctoral work in immunology at UCSF and in cancer genomics at the Broad Institute (Cambridge, MA). Dr. Lohr is board certified in internal medicine, medical oncology and hematology and practices as a clinician at Dana-Farber/Partners Cancer Care. Dr. Lohr is specialty chief editor of Precision Medicine of the journal Frontiers in Medicine.
The Lohr lab explores tumor evolution and drug resistance in thyroid cancer as well as other types of malignancies. The lab uses liquid biopsy approaches, as tools to gain insight into tumor biology, simply from a vial of blood, and translate these findings into novel targeted therapies. For mechanistic exploration of these candidate targets the lab uses a wide variety of tools, which span the spectrum from biochemistry to mouse models. These approaches will lead to a better understanding of the dynamic molecular and genetic changes of cancer over time, which will be crucial for effective precision medicine.
Vicki Emma Smith, PhD – University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK
A New Molecular Switch in Thyroid Cancer
Dr. Vicki Smith of the University of Birmingham was awarded a 2017 thyroid research grant for the project titled “A New Molecular Switch in Thyroid Cancer” by the American Thyroid Association. The grant is awarded by the ATA Research Committee, chaired by Dr. Motoyasu Saji, approved by the ATA Board of Directors and administered by the ATA Headquarters’ office. Administrative and grant tracking support provided by the ATA. Research awardees are honored at the ATA Annual Meeting and on the ATA website with additional presentations and recognition on the ATA annual meeting program. Grant funding was generously provided by the ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc. Dr. Smith is a Lecturer in Molecular Endocrinology at the University of Birmingham, UK. After graduating with an Honors Degree in Medical Biochemistry from the University of Leicester, she spent several years working in industry performing genetic association studies of various disorders including Autoimmune Thyroid Disease. Dr. Smith moved to the University of Birmingham and successfully completed her PhD investigating the downregulation of NIS and critical radioiodine treatment in thyroid cancer under the supervision of Professors Jayne Franklyn and Chris McCabe. She continued this research as a Medical Research Council-funded Post-Doctoral Researcher in Birmingham, with a brief visit to Professor James Fagin’s laboratory at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, publishing several high impact papers and achieving a number of prestigious academic prizes and awards. Dr. Smith has recently taken up a Lecturer post and is currently building her independent research group focusing on the molecular pathogenesis of thyroid cancer. Her main research interests include investigating thyroid cancer signaling pathways, improving radioiodine treatment and identifying novel therapies. Dr. Smith is a member of the Society for Endocrinology Science Committee and the British Thyroid Association Executive Committee. She is dedicated to integrating molecular and clinical research in order to improve the outcomes of thyroid cancer patients.
2016 ThyCa Research Grants
Dr. Viswanath Gunda is an Instructor in Cell Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital committed to translational research in thyroid cancer. After graduating from Sri Ramachandra University, India with high distinction, he completed his Ph.D thesis in Molecular Endocrinology laboratory at Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, India. During this time, he focused on studying molecular mechanisms for adverse effects of endocrine disruptor molecules on human health. Later, he moved to United States for Postdoctoral fellowship at University of Utah where his research efforts were towards understanding the role of orphan nuclear receptor, SHP in obesity and hepatic cancer.
Based on his expertise and interest in studying endocrine cancers, Dr. Gunda joined MGH as Research Fellow in Surgery with Dr. Sareh Parangi, herself a previous ATA research award winner. His research mainly spanned projects understanding the molecular mechanisms to overcome apoptotic resistance in BRAF therapy and utilizing immunotherapeutic strategies to treat thyroid cancer. To date, he co-authored 18 original peer-reviewed scientific publications. Dr. Gunda coordinates Endocrine Tumor Repository in Surgery department at MGH which primarily collects patient thyroid tumors and blood for research. His long-term scientific goal is to pursue translational research pertaining to molecular mechanisms of tumor progression in thyroid cancer.
2016 ThyCa ATA Grant – Thyroid Cancer
Rational combination therapies with lenvatinib for advanced thyroid cancer
Nikita Pozdeyev, MD, PhD University of Colorado Aurora, CO
Nikita Pozdeyev is involved in thyroid cancer research since 2013, when he joined the laboratory of Dr. Bryan Haugen after completing clinical year of the endocrinology fellowship training at the University of Colorado. He is currently an Instructor in the Department of Medicine and will be promoted to Assistant Professor in July 2016. His primary interest is in applying discovery-based science to develop new and improve existing treatments for the advanced thyroid cancer utilizing skills in high-throughput assay development, biostatistics and computer programming. Nikita Pozdeyev is currently involved in the projects dedicating to the study of pharmacogenomics relationships in thyroids cancer (PHOTON project in collaboration with Drs. Haugen and Schweppe), integration of the large pharmacogenomics databases (QAPC, http://tanlab.ucdenver.edu/QAPC/) and the development of rational combination therapies (this project and collaborations investigating the use of docetaxel and dasatinib in thyroid cancer). The principal investigator is dedicating 75% of his time the basic research and spends rest of his time treating patients with thyroid disorders including those with progressive metastatic thyroid cancer on targeted drugs. Press Release
2016 ThyCa ATA Grant – Thyroid Cancer
Assessment of Circulation Immune Suppressor Cells for Predicating Treatment Response in Follicular Cell Derived Thyroid Carcinoma
Trevor Angell, MD,Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Dr. Angell is an Instructor in Medicine at the Harvard Medical School and has been a member of the Thyroid Section of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Hypertension at Brigham and Women’s Hospital since 2014. His research training during fellowship at the University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA) focused on mechanisms of immune suppression in papillary thyroid cancer, leading to contibutions in our understanding of the suppressive immune phenotype of BRAF-V600E mutant papillary thyroid cancer and changes in immune ligand expression after tyrosine kinase inhibitor treatment of thyroid cancer cell lines in vitro. Most notely, Dr. Angell investigated the detection and quantification of circulating myeloid-derived suppressor cells in patients with thyroid nodules. Since joining the faculty at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, he has continued to make academic contributions, studying thyroid nodules and thyroid with particular interest to cytologic, sonographic, and molecular predictors of disease outcomes. Trevor is a member of the American Thyroid Association and an ATA committee member. Press Release
2015 ThyCa ATA Grant – Thyroid Cancer
Clinical utility and cost-effectiveness of a novel blood-based assay for circulating BRAFV600E in patients with papillary thyroid carcinoma
Carrie Lubitz, MD, MPH – Massachusetts General Hospital/ Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Dr. Lubitz is a clinician-scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital committed to improving the quality of care of patients with thyroid cancer. After graduating from the University of Michigan with High Distinction, she completed medical training at the University of Michigan Medical School. During general surgery training at Weill-Cornell Medical College, she investigated the genetic basis of thyroid cancer through two years of protected research time as a postdoctoral research fellow. After completing a clinical endocrine surgery fellowship, she was selected for and completed the NCI-sponsored Program in Cancer Outcomes Research Training honing skills in outcomes research. During this time, she also completed a Master in Public Health degree through the Harvard School of Public Health.
Dr. Lubitz’ research training spans basic science and health services research as it relates to thyroid cancer. To date, she has co-authored 24 original peer-reviewed scientific publications. She has expertise in translational, patient-oriented outcomes, and decision science research and is currently supported by an NIH/NCI K07 Career Development Award. Her long-term scientific goals include improved risk-stratification of thyroid cancer patients, assessment of appropriateness of care in terms of both length and quality of life, and evaluation of the effectiveness of personalized clinical approaches. Press Release
2015 ThyCa ATA Grant – Thyroid Cancer
Uncovering Na+/I- Symporter (NIS) interacting proteins: Implications for radioiodide therapy efficiency and diagnosis of radioiodide-avid thyroid tumors
Juan Nicola, PhD – National University of Córdoba, Córdoba, Argentina
Dr. Nicola is a Research Assistant Professor of the Argentine National Scientific and Technical Research Council performing research activities at the National University of Córdoba (Argentina). Dr. Nicola obtained his PhD at National University of Córdoba in 2010. His PhD thesis, in the laboratory of Dr. Ana María Masini-Repiso, focused on the discovery of the functional expression of Toll-like receptor 4 as the mediator of lipopolysaccharide-induced effects in thyroid cells. During his PhD training, he received the Latin American Thyroid Society young investigator award. In 2011, Dr. Nicola joined Dr. Nancy Carrasco’s laboratory (Yale School of Medicine) to pursue superb postdoctoral training. His research addressed mechanistic questions about how the Na+/I- symporter (NIS) uses Na+ to drive active I- transport, and focused on identifying those residues involved in substrate binding. Dr. Nicola returned to the National University of Córdoba in 2013 to conduct a second postdoctoral experience under the direction of Dr. José Luis Bocco. His work aimed to elucidate the role of the tumor suppressor Krüppel-like factor 6 in BRAFV600E-promoted carcinogenesis. Currently, Dr. Nicola is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in NIS plasma membrane targeting, as radioiodide therapy for the treatment of differentiated thyroid cancer is ultimately dependent on cell surface NIS expression in thyroid tumor cells. Press Release
2015 ThyCa ATA Grant – Thyroid Cancer
Cancer Progression and Therapeutic Response in a Mouse Model of Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma
Sarah Oltmann, MD – University of Texas Southwestern, Dallas, TX
Sarah Catherine Oltmann graduated with her BA in Biology, cum laude from Baylor University. She subsequently obtained her Medical Doctorate at Texas Tech University Health Science Center, graduating Alpha Omega Alpha. She pursued her General Surgery residency at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, during which she completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship, researching estrogen receptor signaling.
After her residency, Dr. Oltmann completed a two-year fellowship in Endocrine Surgery at the University of Wisconsin. During this time, she specialized in the minimally invasive surgical management of thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal disorders. Her research during this time focused on the kinetics of parathyroid hormone decline during parathyroidectomy, calcium supplementation after thyroidectomy for Graves’ disease, and use of surgeon performed ultrasound in the evaluation of N0 thyroid cancer patients.
She joined the faculty of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in August of 2014, as an assistant professor and as the director of Endocrine Surgery at Parkland Memorial Hospital. Her research interests include the management of thyroid cancer, surgical options for hyperthyroidism, intraoperative parathyroid hormone kinetics during parathyroidectomy, and surgeon decision making regarding adrenalectomy. Press Release
2015 ThyCa ATA Grant – Thyroid Cancer
Studying the Genetic Basis of Advanced Differentiated Thyroid Cancer by Forward Genetics Screening with Thyroid-specific Random Transposon Insertional Mutagenesis
Ming Li, MD, PhD – Phoenix VA Health Care System, Phoenix AZ
Dr. Ming Li completed his medical training at Beijing Medical University, in Beijing, China, in 1999. Driven by his passion for science, he then pursued and earned a Ph.D. in Baylor College of Medicine under Dr. Lawrence Chan, and studied glucose-mediated gene transcription. He returned to medicine in 2009 when he joined the Physician Scientist Training Program at University of Minnesota, first as a resident, then an endocrinology fellow. He decided to devote his research to thyroid cancer, recognizing an opportunity to make a great impact to the care of thyroid cancer. He joined the lab of Dr. David Largaespada, a world leader in cancer genetics, in 2012. His work on a murine model of advance thyroid cancer has earned him an outstanding abstract award in Endocrine Society’s 2014 Annual Meeting, and helped him acquire an academic appointment to Phoenix VA Healthcare System to continue his research in thyroid cancer, after his fellowship ends in June 2015. He is a proud member of American Thyroid Association. When not doing research or seeing patients, he enjoys playing with his twin boys Howard and Brian, reading a book of wisdom, and playing an ancient Chinese board game known as “weiqi”.
2014 ThyCa ATA Grant – Thyroid Cancer
Fusion Oncogenes as Drivers of Medullary Thyroid Cancer
Elizabeth Grubbs, MD – The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
Dr. Grubbs graduated from Duke University Medical School in 1999 during which time she was awarded a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Training Grant. During her General Surgery Residency at Duke University (1999-2006) she spent 2 years in a basic science laboratory performing research through a training National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health. After her 2-year Surgical Oncology Fellowship at University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) she came on faculty at MDACC in 2008. In the 5.5 years since taking this first faculty position she has received a 1-year career development award from the Head and Neck SPORE grant led by MDACC, a 1-year career development award from the Thyroid SPORE grant led by Ohio State University and MDACC and more recently a 5-year American Cancer Society Mentored Scholar Grant.
2014 ThyCa ATA Grant – Thyroid Cancer
Development of a High Throughput in vivo Screening System for Small Molecule Activators of Thyroid Differentiation: Identification and Targeting of New Molecular Pathways Involved Thyroid Cancer Progression
Jason Prescott, MD, PhD – Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD
Jason Prescott, MD PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Surgery and of Oncology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, where he is also an Attending Endocrine Surgeon. Dr. Prescott completed his medical doctorate (2004) and doctorate of philosophy in molecular biology (2006) through the NIH-funded Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of Colorado. He then matriculated into the Yale University General Surgery residency program, which he completed in 2011, and followed this with formal fellowship training in Endocrine Surgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA. Dr. Prescott’s lab is developing a Zebrafish animal model of undifferentiated thyroid cancer that has been designed to facilitate rapid, high throughput identification of new anticancer medications and, at the same time, allow elucidation of new subcellular molecular pathways that contribute to thyroid oncogenesis. Using this system, Dr. Prescott and his team not only intend to discover new mechanisms underlying the development of undifferentiated thyroid cancer, but also to directly improve the care of patients suffering from this disease.
2014 ThyCa ATA Grant – Thyroid Cancer
Mechanisms of Response and Resistance to Farnesyltransferase Inhibition in HRAS-driven Thyroid Tumors
Brian Untch, MD – Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY
Brian R. Untch, MD is a surgeon-scientist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center focused on endocrine and neuroendocrine tumors and malignancies. As a surgeon on both the Head and Neck and the Gastric and Mixed Tumor Services, his goal is to advance the knowledge and treatment options for patients with these conditions. Dr. Untch is from Chicago, Illinois where he attended medical school at Loyola University Medical Center. He then underwent general surgery residency training at Duke University and also completed a surgical oncology research fellowship studying mechanisms of calcium set point changes in hyperparathyroidism in the lab of John Olson, MD, PhD. After residency, he came to New York for a clinical fellowship in surgical oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He was then asked to join the faculty. In the laboratory, Dr. Untch studies the pathogenesis of thyroid cancer and responses to therapy under the mentorship of James Fagin, MD, Chief of the Endocrinology Service and Member of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program.
2013 ThyCa ATA Grant – Thyroid Cancer
Overexpression of LGR4 and LGR5 in Human Thyroid Cancer Promotes Wnt/β-Catenin Signaling and is Associated with Tumor Aggressiveness
Brittany Bohinc, MD, PhD
Duke University – Durham, NC
Dr. Brittany Bohinc is originally from Cleveland, Ohio where she did her undergraduate work and medical school. She then completed residency and fellowship in North Carolina. She will transition to junior faculty at Duke University Medical Center on July 1, 2013. Her main research focus has been on thyroid hormone metabolism and thyroid cancer. Dr. Bohinc recently published her original research entitled, “Hedgehog Signaling in Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma: A Novel Signaling Pathway” in Thyroid. She is also currently the primary investigator on the ATA-funded proposal entitled: “Overexpression of LGR4 and LGR5 in Human Thyroid Cancer Promotes Wnt/β-Catenin Signaling and is Associated with Tumor Aggressiveness”. To facilitate her future translational research, she is collaborating with endocrine surgery and pathology to establish a thyroid cancer-working group that will process patient tumors and biological specimens for research purposes. She will establish a Duke University Clinical Database and Paraffin-Embedded Thyroid Tissue Biorepository for future studies in thyroid cancer. Dr. Bohinc has ongoing collaborations with the Division of Hematology/Oncology to establish in vivo murine models of human thyroid explants. In addition to her research endeavors, Dr. Bohinc has organized and served as Medical Director for the Duke Endocrine Tumor Board for the past 2 years. She will also focus her clinical practice on thyroid and parathyroid disease.
2013 ThyCa ATA Grant – Thyroid Cancer
Overcoming Resistance to RET inhibitors in Medullary Thyroid Cancer
Nicole G. Chau, MD
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute – Boston, MA
Dr. Nicole Chau received her medical degree and completed residencies in Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology at the University of Toronto, Canada. She is a medical oncologist in the Head and Neck Oncology Program at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. She is the recipient of a ThyCa grant for her research project entitled ‘Overcoming resistance to RET inhibitors in medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC).’ Dr. Chau and colleagues will examine the efficacy of current and novel RET inhibitors against specific oncogenic RET mutations in MTC. Her project will explore whether novel agents can overcome mechanisms of resistance to current RET inhibitors. Press Release
2013 ThyCa ATA Grant – Thyroid Cancer
Analysis of locus 14q13.3 in search of mutations predisposing to Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma (PTC)
Jaroslaw Piotr Jendrzejewski, MD
Ohio State University – Columbus, OH
Dr. Jaroslaw Jendrzejewski graduated from The Medical University of Gdansk in Poland receiving a Medical Doctor degree in 1998. He completed his internship and internal medicine residency at the Department of Hypertension and Diabetology Medical University of Gdansk. During his medical training he gained a thorough and broad clinical experience in internal medicine. The focus of his clinical interests was on endocrine disorders (particularly diabetes and thyroid diseases). In 2008 he joined Dr. Albert de la Chapelle’s research team at The Ohio State University as a postdoctoral researcher. Dr. Jendrzejewski’s research area is the molecular biology of papillary thyroid cancer, specifically the role of single nucleotide polymorphisms and non-coding RNAs in thyroid cancer pathogenesis. Dr Jendrzejewski is board certified in internal medicine (2007). He is a member of the American Thyroid Association, and he is the author or co-author of several peer reviewed publications related to thyroid cancer. He received the Scientific Award of Medicine from The Medical University of Gdansk for his accomplishments in clinical research (2009). Press Release
2012 ThyCa ATA Grant – Thyroid Cancer
Sorafenib and quinacrine as potential combination for anaplastic thyroid carcinoma
Niklas Finnberg, PhD
Pennsylvania State Hershey Cancer Institute, Hershey, Pennsylvania
Dr. Finnberg started his research career in 1998 when he joined Dr. Johan Högberg’s group as a graduate student at the Institute of Environmental Medicine (IEM), Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. He was introduced to both the basic science aspect of toxicology and the translation of basic scientific discovery to application in regulatory toxicology. During his time at IEM, Dr. Finnberg was acquainted to the tumor suppressor gene p53 in DNA damage signaling in animal models of chemical hepatocarcinogenesis. As a post-doctoral fellow, Dr. Finnberg chose to focus on cancer research in Dr. Wafik El-Deiry’s laboratory, University of Pennsylvania, PA. In Dr. El-Deiry’s laboratory, he characterized the in vivo role of the p53-regulated drug target receptor DR5 in regulating cell death, inflammation and cancer. At the time of publication, the in vivo role of the DR5 receptor in DNA damage signaling and cancer etiology where unknown to the research community despite a high interest for the DR5 receptors potential in cancer therapy. Dr. Finnberg was appointed a senior investigator position in Dr. El-Deiry’ laboratory (2008-2010) and remained focused on DNA damage signaling. He was part of a collaboration with Dr. Ann Kennedy’s laboratory during which he became a member of the Brookhaven National Laboratory and performed animal experiments at the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory (NSRL), Brookhaven, NY. The experiments performed at NSRL where one of the first to compare global gene expression changes in hem atopoietic organs following gamma- and proton-radiation exposure that were associated with radiation-induced toxicity in vivo. In March 2010 Dr. Finnberg joined Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute (PSHCI) and the Experimental Therapeutics branch as an Assistant Professor where he is focused on pursuing translational research that aim to improve therapy for patients with brain, colorectal, hematologic and thyroid cancers.
2012 ThyCa ATA Grant – Thyroid Cancer
The role of Ras versus Raf in thyroid cancer development and progression
Aime Franco, PhD
University of Arkansas for Medical Science, Little Rock, Arkansas
Aime Franco is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, Arkansas. Her laboratory is investigating the role of MAPK signaling in epithelial derived cancers, using mouse models of thyroid cancer to explore the role of activated MAPK signaling in disease. Her current work is investigating the differential roles of Braf versus Ras activation in thyroid tumorigenesis and how we can exploit these differences to develop novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of thyroid cancer, especially poorly-differentiated and anaplastic tumors. Dr. Franco’s lab works closely with physicians in the UAMS Thyroid Cancer Clinic to translate laboratory findings into the clinic. In addition to her work in bench science, Dr. Franco is a member of the Science Policy and Legislative Affairs Committee for the American Association for Cancer Research, passionately advocating for cancer research. Prior to her appointment at UAMS, Dr. Franco completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. She holds a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology from Vanderbilt University, a Master of Science in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Connecticut at Storrs, and a Bachelor of Science in Sports Medicine and Athletic Training from the University of Connecticut at Storrs. In addition to Dr. Franco’s research and policy work in the field of cancer, she is also a cancer survivor, being diagnosed and treated for follicular thyroid cancer in 1999.
2012 ThyCa ATA Grant
Study the role of natural killer cells in anaplastic thyroid carcinoma
Andreas E. Lundqvist, PhD
Karolinska Institute Stockholm, Sweden
During my PhD training (1998-2003) at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden I was involved in research to genetically modify dendritic cells to express tumor antigens for priming of anti-tumor T cell responses. During this time I published a total of twelve papers including six first author papers and two review articles. In these, we assessed several important factors that may contribute to a better outcome in DC therapy. In 2003, when I commenced my post-doctoral studies at the National Institutes of Health I developed murine models of cancer. My studies focused on using natural killer (NK) cells to improve the outcome of allogeneic HCT as well as to develop therapies using autologous NK cells. Based on my results, a clinical phase I trial in patients with metastatic tumors was initiated in 2008. Approximately two years into my tenure at NIH I was awarded a staff scientist position at the Hematology Branch to be able to establish a more independent research program. During my tenure at the NIH I published a total of 18 papers. In October or 2009, I returned to Karolinska Institutet and Cancer Center Karolinska in Stockholm, Sweden to establish my own laboratory. We currently focus on how to improve T and NK cell based immune therapy. Our ultimate goal is to develop clinical studies of adoptive cell therapy against cancer.
2011 ThyCa ATA Grant – Thyroid Cancer
A PI3K based phophoproteome signature to predict prognosis and response to therapy in BRAF mutant papillary thyroid carcinoma
Naifa Busaidy, MD
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston, Texas
Dr. Busaidy is an Associate Professor in the Department of Endocrine Neoplasia & Hormonal Disorders at the University of Texas – M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (UTMDACC). She received her medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine and completed her clinical and research training at MD Anderson. Her clinical and research interests encompass investigating molecular signatures in metastatic noniodine avid papillary thyroid carcinomas with the hope to improve the treatment options and care of the patients with this disease. Dr. Busaidy is a principal & co-investigator on several NCI and industry sponsored clinical trials aimed at improving patient outcomes with progressive metastatic thyroid cancer. She was selected to be on the NCI’s task force for revision of the Common Toxicity Criteria for Adverse Events, version 4. She also was invited to serve on a subcommittee of the NCI’s Investigational Drug Steering Committe, tasked with evaluating the metabolic toxicities of the PI3K/mTOR/aKT inhibitors. These many rich collaborative environments afford her a unique and comprehensive understanding of the potential and adverse effects of these targeted agents. Press Release
2011 ThyCa ATA Grant – Medullary Thyroid Cancer
The Role of the Translocator Protein (TSPO) in the Thyroid Cancer Response to the Treatment
Joanna Klubo-Gwiezdzinska, PhD
Washington Hospital Center/Georgetown University Washington, DC
Joanna Klubo-Gwiezdzinska, MD, PhD holds the faculty appointment at Nicolaus Copernicus University, Collegium Medicum in Bydgoszcz, Poland. She received her medical degree and clinical training in internal medicine from Nicolaus Copernicus University Collegium Medicum in Bydgoszcz, Poland and continues her clinical training in internal medicine and endocrinology at Georgetown University/Washington Hospital Center, Washington, DC.
Dr Klubo-Gwiezdzinska successfully completed post-doctoral research fellowship at Georgetown University/Washington Hospital Center. Her research was focused on optimization of thyroid cancer therapy in order to improve patients’ morbidity and mortality. She was working as a PI on several projects; to include clinical studies comparing dosimetry based vs empiric fixed dosage of radioiodine for the treatment of high risk patients with thyroid cancer, optimization of follow up strategy for thyroid cancer patients or translational studies on growth inhibitory effects of metformin on thyroid cancer cell lines in vitro. Dr Klubo-Gwiezdzinska is a recipient of several awards to include Endocrine Society’s International Endocrine Scholars Award for Outstanding Achievements in Endocrinology, Endocrine Fellows Foundation Grant, and Endocrine Society’s Thyroid Clinical Research Fellowship & Mentor Award. Press Release
2011 ThyCa ATA Grant – Thyroid Cancer
Targeting BRAFV600E with an orally available selective inhibitor in novel in vitro and in vivo preclinical models of human papillary thyroid cancer
Carmelo Nucera, MD, PhD
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (Harvard Medical School) Boston, Massachusetts
Dr. Nucera received his MD and PhD “summa cum laude” from the Medical School of the University of Messina, Italy. He did his residency in Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases at the same University, studying novel clinical associations in congenital idiopathic hypoparathyroidism (DiGeorge Syndrome). During this time, he also generated a novel transgenic mouse model to trace thyroid hormone action in vivo during embryo-fetal development (at the Medical School Agostino Gemelli in Roma). Press Release
2010 ThyCa ATA Grant – Medullary Thyroid Cancer
Activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4), a novel putative tumor suppressor gene in medullary thyroid cancer
Rozita Bagheri-Yarmand, PhD
The University of Texas M D Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas
Dr. Bagheri Yarmand is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Endocrine Neoplasia and Hormonal Disorders – Research, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX. Her interests include mouse models, gene targeting, oncogenes, tumor suppressors, cell cycle, apoptosis, tyrosine kinase receptors, signal transduction, breast cancer, medullary thyroid cancer. Dr. Yarmand began her studies in 1987 at the University of Paris XIII until she completed her PhD. After her first year of training she moved to Houston, Texas to complete her post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
2010 ThyCa ATA Grant – Thyroid Cancer
The role of MADD, an IG20 gene splice variant, and its potential use as therapeutic target in the anaplastic thyroid cancer
Tania Pilli, MD, PhD
University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Dr. Tania Pilli obtained her medical degree at the University of Siena in 1999. After her post-graduate training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the same institution (1999-2004), Dr. Pilli pursued a research fellowship in cancer biology and autoimmunity in the Section of Endocrinology at the University of Siena. Since her appointment in this institution, Dr. Pilli has been involved in both clinical practice and research, with an emphasis on thyroid cancer.
2009 ThyCa ATA Grant
Dually Targeting the MAP Kinase and PI3K Pathways in Thyroid Cancer – Testing of a Novel Therapeutic Approach
Dingxie Liu MD, PhD
The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, MD
Dr. Dingxie Liu came from southern China, where He received his M.D. and Ph.D. in 2000. He Joined Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2005 as a postdoctoral fellow and became a faculty member at the same institution in 2009. Dr. Liu’s interests include molecular pathology of thyroid cancer and melanoma, cancer targeted therapy and cancer bioinformatics. Currently he focuses on designing and testing novel combination strategies for targeted therapy of thyroid cancer basing on microarray-based pathway profiling data.
2009 ThyCa ATA Grant – Medullary Thyroid Cancer
Somatostatin-coupled Nanoparticles for Imaging and Therapy of Medullary Thyroid Cancer
Martin A. Walter, MD
University Hospital, Basel, Switzerland
Dr. Martin A. Walter attended the medical schools of Muenster (Germany), London (UK) and Zurich (Switzerland). After graduation he did his residency in the Divisions of Nuclear Medicine and Endocrinology at the University Hospital Basel (Switzerland). Starting in his first year of residency he was involved in several clinical research projects on the treatment of benign and malignant thyroid diseases, resulting e.g. in the first meta-analysis on the combined use of radioiodine and anti-thyroid drugs.
Encouraged by the success of radioisotope delivery into differentiated thyroid cancer cells, Dr. Walter became involved into research projects aimed to deliver radioisotopes also into other tumors. One of the most prominent examples of this concept of internal radiotherapy is the implementation of the radiolabeled somatostatin analogue DOTATOC for the treatment of medullary thyroid cancer. Since 2010 Martin Walter is the head of the Nuclear Medicine Research Laboratories at the University Hospital Berne, Switzerland, which are dedicated to develop new radioactive tracers that allow receptor targeted radiotherapy in a variety of tumors.
2008 ThyCa ATA Grant – Thyroid Cancer
Regulation of Sodium/Iodide Symporter (NIS) Gene Expression in Thyroid Cancer
Michael S. Fenton, PhD
West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, Los Angeles, California
Dr. Mike Fenton earned a B.S. with a major in Biochemistry from UCLA in 1997. Dr. Fenton received a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2003 from UCLA. He continued his advanced education with a Postdoctoral Fellowship at UCLA. Mike joined the Chemistry faculty at LA Mission College. Currently, Mike is the Honors Program director and has a function on the advisory board for the LAMC Title III and V grants.
2008 ThyCa ATA Grant – Medullary Thyroid Cancer
Identification of microRNA (miRNA) Target Genes in Human Medullary Thyroid Cancer: A Specific Role of miRNAs to Promote Invasion and Metastasis
Libero Santarpia, MD, PhD
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas
Libero Santarpia MD, PhD is Assistant Professor and Director of a Translational Unit Laboratory within the Department of Oncology at the Tuscan Tumor Institute, Italy. He is currently appointed as Visiting Assistant Professor within the Department of Endocrine Neoplasia and Pathology at The University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, USA. Dr. Santarpia obtained his MD and PhD in Molecular Endocrinology in Italy and pursued research fellowships in Naples (Italy), Heidelberg, Barcelona, and Houston. Most of his career and research is devoted to understand thyroid and neuroendocrine disorders, with a special emphasis on the molecular genetics of thyroid carcinomas. Dr. Santarpia’s research interest is to identify new genetic markers of disease for better personalized treatments. He is a recipient of an American Thyroid Association-ATA ThyCa-Grant identifying microRNAs, gene targets and new mechanisms of tumorigenesis and metastases in human medullary thyroid carcinoma.
2007 ThyCa ATA Grant – Thyroid Cancer
The Role of miR146a in PTC
Krystian Jazdzewski, MD, PhD
Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
Dr. Krystian Jazdzewski, is the head of the Genomic Medicine at Medical University of Warsaw. He also holds a position of Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Virology, Immunology & Medical Genetics at the Ohio State University. Dr. Jazdzewski is an internationally recognized expert in the field of microRNA and genetic predisposition to human cancers. Dr. Jazdzewski has published 13 peer-reviewed papers, including PNAS (2005, 2008, 2009), Cell Cycle (2009), JCEM (2008, 2011, 2011), Thyroid (2005) with more than 700 citations.
2007 ThyCa ATA Grant – Medullary Thyroid Cancer
The Role of Tumor-Associated Macrophages on Thyroid Cancer Progression
Mabel Ryder, MD
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York
Mabel Ryder, MD, is an Assistant Attending in Endocrinology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, I manage a broad spectrum of patients with both low and high risk thyroid cancer as well as patients with benign and malignant adrenal related disorders. In the laboratory, my research is focused on examining the role of the tumor microenvironment in thyroid cancer progression. Using mouse models of BRAF induced papillary thyroid cancer (PTC), we have demonstrated that tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) facilitate PTC initiation and progression. During PTC initiation, TAMs stimulate expansion of tumor promoting cancer-associated myofibroblasts, a novel observation for any cancer type. We have demonstrated that targeting TAMs pharmacologically in murine PTCs impairs thyroid cancer progression. This has relevant therapeutic implications for patients with advanced radioiodine refractory thyroid cancer whose thyroid cancers are often densely infiltrated with TAMs.
2006 ATA ThyCa Grant – Medullary Thyroid Cancer
Xianmin Xia, PhD – The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
Targeting p55PIK phosphoinositide-3 kinase (PI 3-kinase) in the Treatment of Human Thyroid Cancers
2006 ATA ThyCa Grant – Thyroid Cancer
Lionel Groussin, MD, PhD – Cochin Institute, Paris, France
Regulation and Expression of Dual Specificity Phosphatases in Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma
2005 ThyCa ATA Grant – Medullary Thyroid Cancer
Induction of Cytotoxic Immunity in Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma by Dendritic
Matthias Schott, MD
Heinrich-Heine-University of Duesseldorf, Duesseldorf, Germany
Matthias Schott is currently a Professor at the University Hospital Düsseldorf, Head of the Division for Specific Endocrinology Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes. Dr. Schott’s key expertise is in the field of autoimmune thyroid diseases as well as in the field of endocrine malignancies. He performed a multitude of different studies for the diagnostic of autoimmune diseases as well as cell transfer studies for the treatment of autoimmune and malignant endocrine diseases. This has been done in animal models as well as in humans. Matthias Schott is member of many organizations, most importantly he is member of the research committee of the American Thyroid Association.
2005 ThyCa ATA Grant – Thyroid Cancer
Radiation Response Genotype & Risk of Papillary Thyroid Cancer: A Case-Control Study.
Erich Sturgis, MD, FACS
The University of Texas M D Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas
Dr. Sturgis received a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry cum laude from L.S.U., and he attended Georgetown University School of Medicine graduating cum laude with a Medical Doctorate in 1990. He was a general surgery intern at Tulane University and Charity Hospital and subsequently, a r esearch fellow in head and neck oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Sturgis completed a residency in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Tulane University in 1996 and became certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology in 1997. After a head and neck surgery fellowship at Vrije University in Amsterdam, he completed a two-year research fellowship in molecular epidemiology at The University of Texas-M.D. Anderson Cancer Center followed by a one-year clinical fellowship in head and neck surgery. In 2000, he joined the faculty of the Department of Head and Neck Surgery as an assistant professor with a joint appointment in Epidemiology at The University of Texas-M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. He completed a Master of Public Health at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health in 2004 and was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 2005 and full professor with tenure in 2010.
2004 ThyCa ATA Grant
Antiangiogenic Therapy of Thyroid Cancer
Sareh Parangi, MD
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts
Dr. Sareh Parangi is an Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital. She is a busy endocrine surgeon with an interest in aggressive thyroid cancers. An ATA Thyca awardee for 2005, she was able to leverage those funds to become an RO1 funded physician scientist at the MGH. Dr. Parangi has been able to balance her passion for translational research with innovative and compassionate care to patients with complex thyroid diseases. Her work in thyroid cancer details certain key genetic changes seen more frequently in those who do poorly, to help elucidate the role of these genetic changes in the aggressive behavior of those cancers. This important research effort focuses on clarifying the molecular mechanism of thyroid cancer invasion and understanding the process of disease progression in patients with thyroid cancer. Therapeutic strategies being currently tested include rational combinatorial therapies, anti-apoptotic strategies and studying underlying mechanisms of resistance to BRAF inhibitors.
2003 ThyCa ATA Grant
BRAF Gene Mutation and the Oncogenesis of Papillary Thyroid Carcinomas
Xiulong Xu, PhD
Rush Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois
Dr. Xiulong Xu is an assistant professor in the Department of General Surgery at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois. He studied Veterinary Medicine in Yangzhou University from 1980-1984 and earned a Ph.D. degree in 1990 from Nanjing Agricultural University, P. R. China. Dr. Xu received his training in virology and immunology in Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, Germany, and Rush University, Chicago. Dr. Xu became a faculty at Rush University since 1996. The main focus of Dr. Xu’s research includes tumor biology, immunology, and diabetes.