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Ramon Parsons Awarded Outstanding Investigator Award from The National Cancer Institute

Published Online:5:30 PM, Wed November 29, 2017

Ramon Parsons, MD, PhD
Renowned scientist Ramon Parsons, MD, PhD, has been awarded an Outstanding Investigator Award (OIA) from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The award guarantees $6.7 million for 7 years of research into the tumor-suppressing functions of the PTEN gene, which he discovered.

The award will be used to determine how the tumor-suppressing gene, PTEN, and its variant, PTEN-L, are regulated; to study tumors’ development and metabolism when the gene is inactivated; and to develop small molecule therapies that target tumor cells that have cancer-causing mutations in the PTEN gene.

Over the past 20 years, Parsons has been dedicated to studying how PTEN mutations cause cancer and how to disrupt metabolic pathways within the mutations to kill cancer. He also hopes to build on his recently published research regarding the blocking the metabolic pathway with a common cancer-causing gene mutation using a rheumatoid arthritis drug, which could lead to treatments for aggressive cancers, such as triple-negative breast cancer and glioblastoma.

“I am grateful to the National Cancer Institute for this award that will lead to a greater understanding of PTEN’s inactivation and regulation, which may lead to improved therapy for cancer patients,” Parsons said in a statement. “Understanding PTEN could hold the key to helping patients with some of the most aggressive and the most treatment-resistant cancers, such as triple-negative breast cancer and prostate cancer.”
Parsons is currently a professor and chairman of oncological sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Additionally, he is an Icahn scholar and the Ward-Coleman Chair in Cancer Research. He also serves as director of the Tisch Cancer Institute, an NCI-designated cancer center, and as director of Mount Sinai Cancer, Mount Sinai Health System. He formerly worked as a professor of breast cancer research, medicine, pathology, and cell biology at the Institute for Cancer Genetics and at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICC) at New York-Presbyterian Hospital; he also led the HICCC’s Breast Cancer Program.

The OIA supports scientists who demonstrate remarkable productivity in cancer research. Investigators are encouraged to use the 7 years of financial stability to continue or embark on long-term projects with significant potential. Award recipients are nominated by their institutions based on their demonstrated productivity in cancer research.

“The NCI Outstanding Investigator Award addresses a problem that many cancer researchers experience: finding a balance between focusing on their science while ensuring that they will have funds to continue their research in the future,” Dinah Singer, PhD, director of NCI’s Division of Cancer Biology, said in a statement. “With 7 years of uninterrupted funding, NCI is providing investigators the opportunity to fully develop exceptional and ambitious cancer research programs.”

Parsons is an author of over 90 original peer-reviewed articles and has served as an editor on several journals, including Cancer Research. Additionally, he has received numerous awards, including the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)’s OIA for Breach Cancer Research and the National Institutes of Health Research Service Award. He is a current member of the AACR, the American Society for Clinical Investigation, and the Association of American Physicians.

His medical and doctorate degrees were completed in microbiology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He later went on to complete his postdoctoral fellowship at John Hopkins University School of Medicine before beginning his career as assistant professor of pathology at Columbia University in 1995.

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