Stanford Cancer Institute

SCI Innovation Awardee

March 2023 - Behar Innovation Award in Sarcoma Research

Jonathan Pollack, MD, PhD, Professor of Pathology, was awarded a $50,000 Behar Innovation Awards in Sarcoma Research award for his project entitled “Identifying novel therapeutic targets in liposarcoma.” Dr. Pollack's research centers on translational genomics, with a focus on human cancer, and his lab uses next-generation sequencing, single-cell genomics, genome editing, and human cell/tissue-based modeling to uncover disease mechanisms, biomarkers, and therapeutic targets.

Liposarcomas are rare cancers of the fat tissue. They are treated by surgical excision but often recur and are refractory to chemotherapy and radiation, leading to high mortality. Liposarcomas are caused by gene amplification – leading to dozens of extra copies – of the MDM2 gene. MDM2 functions to degrade other proteins, including the known tumor suppressor protein TP53. However, evidence suggests that the MDM2-TP53 pathway does not underlie liposarcoma. Rather, Dr. Pollack’s novel idea is that MDM2 degrades another as yet unidentified protein critical for the development of liposarcoma. Through the support of the Behar Innovation Awards in Sarcoma Research award, Dr. Pollack aims to discover that protein, which would both further our understanding of liposarcoma, and provide a new therapeutic target for precision medicine.