Based on key insights derived from our work in the area of tumor hypoxia, we were able to develop a new project involving a novel genetically encoded system for the chemical functionalization of protein surfaces. We expect to use this method to discover important protein-protein interactions that are dysregulated in cancers. This week, we have been awarded the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award funding our work on this new project, demonstrating that funding by the Grunebaum Foundation for early career investigators has the potential to have broad impact in getting a young research lab off the ground. Our lab is now funded by the William F. Milton Fund, the NIH, and the Claudia Adams Barr Program, in addition to the Grunebaum Foundation. We thank the Grunebaum Foundation for being our first funding source and opening up many more opportunities.
I am an assistant professor of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School and my lab is a chemical biology lab that focuses on the development of new chemical technologies for the study and treatment of cancer. Currently, our primary biological interest is in tumor hypoxia and we are actively engaged in the design and synthesis of new therapeutic and imaging agents targeting this unique chemical microenvironment. Hypoxia, which is characterized by regions of low oxygen content resulting from inadequate and disorganized vasculature in tumors, results in the reprogramming of cancer cells to enhance their invasiveness and progression toward metastasis. Onset of hypoxia is often associated with highly negative prognoses for patients for whom there are very few treatment options; radiotherapy as well as most chemotherapies are ineffective in these tumor microenvironments. I am honored to have been awarded the Karin Grunebaum Faculty Research Fellowship and excited for the research that it will enable in my lab moving forward.