2021 Dahod Awards Announced

Congratulations to the 2021 recipients of the Dahod Pilot Grant Program Fund, the Dahod Assistant Professorship and the Dahod International Scholar. In August 2008, Shamim Dahod (CGS’76, CAS’78, MED’87) and her husband Ashraf gave $10.5M to BUSM to establish the Shamim and Ashraf Dahod Breast Cancer Research Center, as well as these programs and endowments.

Dennis Jones, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, the 2021 Dahod Assistant Professor, will collaborate with Dr. Andrew Emili to identify immunosuppressive molecules contained in cancer cell derived-exosomes and investigate their impact on T cells, a type of immune cell that can recognize and kill breast cancer cells. Blocking such immunosuppressive mechanisms may promote the anti-tumor activity of T cells, thus enhancing their ability to eliminate breast cancers.

Kristýna Kotýnková, PhD, a postdoc in Dr. Neil Ganem’s laboratory, the 2021 Dahod International Scholar, will focus on cancer cell biology. Chromosome instability generates significant genetic heterogeneity, and eventually breast cancer cells with growth advantages emerge that fuel tumor progression, drug resistance, metastasis, and relapse. Consequently, breast cancer patients with highly chromosomally unstable tumors have a worse clinical prognosis. Kotýnková’s research focuses on defining how loss of a putative tumor suppressor gene, named SPINT2, promotes chromosome instability in human breast cancer.

Neil J. Ganem, PhD, Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Medicine, a 2021 Dahod Pilot Grant awardee, will focus on the understanding genetic adaptations in whole-genome doubled tumor cells. Approximately 44 percent of all breast cancers double their whole genome early in their tumorigenic evolution, giving rise to breast cancer cells with twice as many chromosomes as normal cells. Dr. Ganem’s laboratory, which has shown that whole-genome doubling imposes numerous physiological stresses upon cells, will study whether tumor cells double the normal number of chromosomes must therefore acquire specific genetic alterations that enable them to tolerate the numerous defects imparted by their doubled chromosome content.

Hui Feng, MD, PhD, Rachel L. Flynn, PhD, and Neil Ganem, PhD, all Associate Professors of Pharmacology and Medicine, will share a 2021 Dahod Pilot Grant to purchase a color cMOS microscope camera, a Thermomixer and a PCR machine, to enhance their research programs in the Dahod Breast Cancer Research Laboratories. The new equipment will enable high-resolution imaging and immunohistochemistry of breast cancer tissues and a detailed molecular analysis of cellular immortality and gene expression in breast cancer cells.