Stand Up To Cancer has awarded 2 individuals with the 2018 Laura Ziskin Prize in Translational Research, Jos Jonkers, of the Netherlands Cancer Institute, and Helen Piwnica-Worms, of the MD Anderson Cancer Center. The 2 will share the $250,000 grant for a year-long project together.
The Laura Ziskin award, named after the legendary Hollywood Producer and co-founder of SU2C, was inaugurated in 2012. Ziskin lived with breast cancer for 7 years until it took her life in 2011. The prize was created with $1.1 million, designated for this purpose in her will.
SU2C was founded in 2008 to raise funds for accelerated research. The aim is get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives. As a division of Entertainment Industry Foundation, this organization utilizes its resources to engage the public in supporting new and collaborative models of cancer research, as well as increase awareness of cancer prevention and progress being made.
The prize was awarded at the 2018 SU2C Scientific Summit in Santa Monica. Jonkers and Piwnica-Worms plan to bring together their expertise in DNA damage repair mechanisms and imaging mass cytometry.
“The collaboration of these world-leading investigators has the potential to make a major impact on the use of DNA damage response inhibitors both alone and in combination with DNA damage checkpoint inhibitors,” stated the selection committee, chaired by John Glaspy, MD, MPH, professor of medicine at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center of the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine. “Working together, this team will be more than a sum of its parts, and will accelerate use of this exciting technology in the breast cancer community as well as rapidly translating combinations of drugs targeting DNA damage repair and the DNA damage checkpoint to the clinic.”
The 2 will investigate how the immune system recognizes breast cancer and devise new and more effective treatment combinations. By examining the collection of neoantigens present on patient-derived and laboratory models, they will then be able to replicate human tumors so that new combinations of treatments can be tested quickly and accurately.
Jonkers is a leader in building genetically engineered mouse models (GEMMs) for representing human breast cancers. He has previously developed GEMMs for p53-induced breast cancer, BRCA-1 and BRCA2-associated hereditary breast cancer, and E-cadherin-mutated lobular breast cancer.
He and his group have developed a panel of patient-derived xenograph (PDX) models of BRCA1-proficient and BRCA-1 deficient triple-negative breast cancer. Piwnica-Worms has also generated a valuable collection of PDX models of breast cancer aligned with 2 ongoing neoadjuvant clinical trials.