AAISCR at 29th Annual Meet Recognizes and Encourages Indian American Cancer Scientists
India-West Staff Reporter
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The 29th annual American Association of Indian Scientists in Cancer Research meeting, held on May 8, was attended by many eminent research scientists and young investigators, biotechnology company representatives, and representatives from the prestigious American Association for Cancer Research.
Dr. Aniruddha Ganguly, founder and current President addressed the AAISCR community by emphasizing the importance of supporting the community of Indian American cancer researchers. The organization serves scientists by bringing together scientists with similar interests to help them pursue common goals and share knowledge and expertise and provide information on funding and training offered by the National Institutes of Health.
This year AAISCR Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented to two renowned scientists who have made significant fundamental contributions to cancer research.
The keynote speaker and lifetime achievement awardee Dr. Arul Chinnaiyan is S.P. Hicks Endowed Professor of Pathology, Director, Michigan Center for Translational Pathology, investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, American Cancer Society Research Professor and Professor of Urology at the University of Michigan. Chinnaiyan is best known for the discovery of TMPRSS2-ETS gene fusions in prostate cancers, the first causative gene fusion in a common solid tumor. These gene fusions are specific markers of prostate cancer.
The lifetime achievement awardee Dr. Nina Bharadwaj holds the Ward-Coleman chair in cancer research and is a professor of medicine, hematology, and oncology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Director of Immunotherapy, Medical Director of the Vaccine and Cell Therapy Laboratory, and Co-Director of the Cancer Immunology Program at The Tisch Cancer Institute, NY. Bhardwaj has made seminal contributions to human dendritic cell biology. She developed Toll Like Receptor agonist and dendritic cell-based vaccines for the treatment of both cancer and infection and has pioneered neoantigen vaccine studies. She was named one of the Scientific American’s Top 50 Researchers.
AAISCR Outstanding Scientist Award went to two scientist. Dr. Thirumala-Devi Kanneganti is a St. Jude Faculty Vice-Chair of the Immunology Department, Rose Marie Thomas Endowed Chair at the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, TN. Kanneganti’s research has contributed to both the inception and the maturation of the inflammasome field as a major research area in immunology and as a site for therapeutic innovation. Dr. Anindya Dutta is Professor and Chairman of the Department of Genetics, University of Alabama at Birmingham. His research interests cover genomic instability in cancer cells and noncoding RNAs in differentiation and cancer.
This year AAISCR introduced two new awards in specific areas to encourage scientists to define their career paths. Dr. Shahana Mahajan, Associate Professor, Hunter College, City University of New York was awarded AAISCR-Tripti R. Ghosh Memorial Award for Women in Cancer Research. Dr. Manash K. Paul, Scientist and Principal Investigator at the University of California Los Angeles was awarded AAISCR-P. R. Vijayalaxmi Award for Innovation in Cancer Research.
Young investigator awards were presented in three different categories, junior faculty, postdoctoral fellow and graduate student, to encourage their research activities in cancer-related biomedical research. Graduate Student Awardees were Sukanya Chakraborty and Aaqib M. Bhat of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, NE. Postdoctoral Fellow Awardees were Dr. Srijan Acharya, Mitchell Cancer Institute, AL and Dr. Abhilash Samykutty, Stephenson Comprehensive Cancer Center, OK and Junior Faculty awardee was Dr. Abhijit Parolia, University of Michigan, MI.
The annual meeting presented an opportunity to discuss grant-related questions and NIH funding opportunities in molecular analysis technologies for cancer research with Dr. Tony Dickherber, program director of the National Cancer Institute. This program was highly appreciated by the AAISCR community.