Christos Vaklavas, M.D., second-year fellow in the UAB Division of Hematology and Oncology, has received a 2012 Young Investigator Award of $50,000 from the Conquer Cancer Foundation of the American Society of Clinical Oncology for his research targeting internal ribosomal entry-site-mediated translation in cancer therapeutics.
Working with Scott Blume, M.D., associate professor of hematology and oncology and scientist in the cancer cell-biology program at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, Vaklavas has previously characterized the IRES of the mRNA for the insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor. IGF1R is an oncogene with a multifaceted role in cancer, primarily involved in chemotherapy resistance, cancer cell growth and survival. The team has identified and characterized the proteins that bind to the mRNA and regulate the activity of the IRES. Capitalizing on the distinctions between IRES-mediated and conventional translation, they are trying to develop drugs that inhibit IRES-mediated translation. Such drugs will help advance the understanding of IRES-mediated translation and may have important therapeutic implications in patients with cancer.
Established by the American Society of Clinical Oncologists, the Conquer Cancer Foundation supports important clinical research, patient education and patient advocacy programs in the global campaign against cancer. The Young Investigator Award provides funding to promising investigators to encourage and promote quality research in clinical oncology.