UACC students and fellows receive prestigious awards

The University of Arizona Cancer Center is home to some truly gifted young cancer researchers. A number of them have recently received prestigious awards and honors.

As one of only 41 Comprehensive Cancer Centers designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), training the next generation of physician-scientists is among the University of Arizona Cancer Center's core principles. As such, the UACC is home to some truly gifted young cancer researchers. 

A number of them have recently received prestigious awards and honors.

Earlier this year, Timothy Tiutan was awarded the 2015 Alpha Omega Alpha Carolyn L. Kuckein Student Research Fellowship—one of the most prestigious and well-known fellowships among medical students. His award-winning study is titled, "Combined Therapy Targeting Anti-Apoptotic BCL2 and MCL1 Proteins In High-Risk Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma."

Born in the Philippines, Tiutan moved to the United States at the age of 8. He has been at the University of Arizona since 2008 and has been studying internal medicine since 2013. He credits his mentor, Jonathan Schatz, MD, with helping him take his research to another level.

"Dr. Schatz is honestly the best mentor I've ever had," Tiutan said. "He pushed me and callenged me when I needed it and showed me the kinds of things that are possible in this field."

Tiutan plans to remain in the cancer field as he applies for residency programs.

This spring, Stephanie Kha won the 2015 Best Student Award in the UA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry with a four-year overall GPA of 4.0.

In addition to her studies, Kha worked 20 hours per week in the lab of David Alberts, MD, served as President of the UA Student Advocacy Committee that helped make the UA campus smoke free, played on the UA badminton club team, and helped Dr. Alberts edit a new textbook, “Supportive Cancer Care.”

Kha was also a recipient of the Robert Nugent Award, one of the UA's top honors for undergraduate students and was awarded one of six $5,000 Walter and Adelheid Hohenstein Fellowships for medical school studies at Case Western  by the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

"I am so blessed to have worked with Stephanie these past four years," Dr. Alberts said. "She is a truly remarkable individual with a limitless future."

Lastly, Josephine Taverna, MD, and Srinath Sundararajan, MD—two exceptional members of the UACC Hematology and Medical Oncology Fellowship Training Program—were selected to participate in the prestigious Workshop on Methods in Clinical Cancer Research (also known as the “Vail workshop”), sponsored by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), to be held in Vail, Colo., from July 25-31, 2015.

Drs. Taverna and Sundararajan were selected from almost 200 applicants to participate in this workshop. Joanne Jeter, MD, serves as the faculty mentor with whom Drs. Taverna and Sundararajan developed the proposals for the clinical research protocols that they will expand upon during this intensive workshop.

Dr. Taverna’s protocol: “Phase Ib Pharmacodynamic and Pharmacokinetic Study of LEE011 (Ribocicib) in Combination with Cisplatin in Patients with Refractory and Relapsed Solid Tumors.”

Dr. Sundararajan’s protocol is: “A phase 2 study of pembrolizumab and imatinib for treatment of unresectable or metastatic melanomas with c-kit mutation or amplification.”

Congratulations to these remarkable young researchers.

-Nick Prevenas, June 22, 2015

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