Ferguson Jed Ferguson, III, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Urology, won second place in the American Urological Association (AUA) Early-Career Investigators Showcase for his research project, “ARID1A mutant bladder cancer is dependent on PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling via a novel upregulation of non-canonical PI3K isoforms, which can be therapeutically targeted.”

Metastatic bladder cancer remains a lethal disease with only one targeted therapy, erdafitinib. Ferguson and co-investigators found that bladder cancers harboring an inactivating mutation in the chromatin-modifying gene, ARID1A, are exquisitely sensitive to pharmacologic inhibition with EZH2 and PI3K inhibitors.

Ferguson and co-investigators' mechanistic studies revealed that ARID1A mutant bladder cancer is addicted to PI3K signaling and determined the novel role of PIK3R3 and PIK3IP1 in these processes.

As EZH2 and PI3K inhibitors have been FDA approved for other cancers, Ferguson and co-investigators are currently exploring clinical trials, in conjunction with collaborators at Harvard Medical School, to study the efficacy of these novel drugs in patients with ARID1A-mutant bladder cancer.

The AUA Research Forum, “Early-Career Investigators Showcase,” is dedicated to the work of early-career investigators.

This forum showcases basic, translational, and clinical research on innovative, relevant, and potentially impactful research projects of interest to the basic and clinical research communities.

The Showcase highlights individuals and projects that exemplify the best and brightest early-career investigators and lines of research poised to make an impact in urology.

“This was a huge honor, from start to finish: from Dr. Assimos’ support and nomination to the Southeast Sections’ selection, and on to the presentation and award,” said Ferguson. “I was truly impressed by the quality of the research presented at the showcase by the other scientists, which makes this selection all the more flattering. I am truly thankful and hope that this helps to intensify the spotlight on all the great work being done at UAB Urology!”