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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Highlights from the 2017 NCI Intramural Scientific Investigators Retreat

Maria Teresa Landi

On January 10, 2017, DCEG scientists participated in the annual NCI Intramural Scientific Investigators Retreat. Senior investigator Maria Teresa Landi, M.D., Ph.D., gave an invited lecture on “Integrating exposures, genetic susceptibility, and somatic changes in lung cancer etiology and progression.”

This year’s retreat featured award lectures by two eminent scientists.

Sir Michael Stratton, FMedSci FRS, Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, and Chief Executive Officer of the Wellcome Genome Campus, delivered the 21st Annual Alfred G. Knudson Lecture in Cancer Genetics in Cancer Research. The title of his talk was “Signatures of mutational processes in human cancer.”

Silvia Franceschi, M.D., Special Advisor and Head, Infections and Cancer Epidemiology Group, International Agency for Research on Cancer, presented the 15th Annual NCI Rosalind E. Franklin Award Lecture for Women in Cancer Genetics. She spoke on “The unequal burden of cancer attributable to infections across the world.” She spent the following day meeting with DCEG colleagues at the NCI Shady Grove office. Read more about Dr. Franceschi’s visit.

Silvia Franceschi, the 15th Annual NCI Rosalind E. Franklin Award Lecturer for Women in Cancer Genetics, with Stephen Chanock and Douglas Lowy.

Senior investigator Rashmi Sinha, Ph.D., received the NCI Women Scientist Advisors' Mentoring and Leadership Award.

Stephen J. Chanock, M.D., Director of DCEG, Tom Misteli, Ph.D., Director of NCI’s Center for Cancer Research (CCR), and Douglas Lowy, M.D., Acting Director of the NCI, recognized the 2017 NCI Director’s Innovation Award recipients. These awards are designed to support the development of novel approaches and technologies for accelerating cancer research. These include Principal Investigator (PI) Awards, which are given to tenure-track or recently tenured PIs (within five years of tenure), and Career Development Awards, which are given to postdoctoral fellows, staff scientists, staff clinicians, and senior scientists. Six DCEG scientists received awards, as listed below:

Principal Investigator Awards

Laura Beane Freeman, Ph.D. and Melissa Friesen, Ph.D.
“Validation of a non-occupational pesticide exposure algorithm to estimate cumulative pesticide intensity from the take home, agricultural drift and residential use exposure pathways”

2017 NCI Director’s Innovation Award (Principal Investigator) recipients Laura Beane Freeman and Melissa Friesen with Stephen Chanock and Douglas Lowy.

Career Development Awards

Emily Vogtmann, Ph.D., M.P.H.
“Oral fungal microbiome and the risk of head and neck cancer: A nested case-control study in the NIH-AARP”

Alison L. Van Dyke, M.D., Ph.D.
“A pilot study characterizing lung tumor inflammatory infiltrates and PD-L1 expression with future expansion to associations with molecular profile and clinical outcomes”

Abdul Rouf Banday, Ph.D.
“Modulation of APOBEC mutagenesis in bladder cancer”

Bryan Bassig, Ph.D., M.P.H.
“Evaluation of inflammation and lung cancer associated microRNAs in a cross-sectional molecular epidemiology study of workers occupationally exposed to diesel engine exhaust”

Twice during the day, investigators enjoyed poster presentations by their colleagues. New to the program this year was the addition of Breakout Sessions on 12 topics, led by NCI experts. These informal group discussions covered topics ranging from “Big Data in Cancer” to “Chromatin and Epigenetics as Drivers”. The sessions were well-attended and resulted in many engaging discussions.

The formal program ended with an award ceremony, followed by a reception hosted by the Directors of CCR and DCEG.