SCI Fellowship Awards
As an NCI Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Stanford Cancer Institute (SCI)’s mission is to translate Stanford discoveries into individualized cancer care and prevention. In keeping with its important goal of educating and empowering the next generation of cancer researchers, the SCI offers funding to cancer research fellows at Stanford University.
The SCI seeks to increase the number of clinical, laboratory, and population researchers, who are carrying out cancer research with applicability to the basic biology, prevention, diagnosis or treatment of cancer, or to the quality of life of cancer patients. This critical source of funding enables trainees to achieve faculty positions and obtain career development awards.
We strongly encourage candidates of diverse backgrounds to apply.
The most important criteria for the fellowship awards are that applicants:
- Have clear evidence of intent to pursue an academic career (prior research experience is a plus).
- Have a commitment to apply during the 2024 academic year for outside support from foundations, the NIH, or other sources. If outside support is obtained for the 2024 academic year while the application is reviewed and approved, it will be used to offset the SCI funds awarded.
The RFA is open to individuals who are completing their clinical or post-doctoral training and are pursuing clinical, laboratory, or population-based research projects with direct cancer relevance at Stanford University. These individuals are in the final year of their residency or postdoc planning to look for faculty positions in the next year.
Eunji Choi, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Summer Han’s laboratory in the Quantitative Sciences Unit at Stanford University School of Medicine. As a cancer epidemiologist with diverse training in economics, health policy evaluation, and statistics, Dr. Choi’s ultimate career goal is getting a faculty position at a research-intensive cancer institution. She first became interested in microeconomic analysis and economic policy as an undergraduate. Dr. Choi pursued her PhD in public health at the National Cancer Center of South Korea, where she was able to use her economic policy evaluation skills to assess cancer policy performance and develop fundamental epidemiologic methods and national-level big data analysis. Since coming to Stanford as a postdoctoral scholar in Feb 2020, Dr. Choi has led research in various aspects of managing second primary lung cancer among lung cancer survivors and has taken full advantage of the methodologically rigorous environment at Dr. Han’s laboratory. To become an independent cancer researcher, Dr. Choi is dedicated to acquiring innovative research skills and obtaining funds.
Nicholas H. Juul, MD, is a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Tushar Desai’s laboratory in the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Juul’s research is focused on using “’omics” and translational assays of primary human tissue to examine mechanisms of lung tumor growth. He has made novel and exciting observations surrounding how the cell of origin of cancer impacts the behavior of the resulting tumor, developing a model of lepidic lung adenocarcinoma in the mouse and discovering evidence that demonstrates the clinical relevance of this model in human lung adenocarcinoma. Dr. Juul has discovered that the Kras and Braf oncogenes can cause a terminally differentiated cell to take on the phenotype of its stem cell en route to tumorigenesis. His observations regarding Wnt in both this murine model and in spheroid assays of primary lung adenocarcinoma have established exciting avenues for further research into the role of Wnt signaling in tumor biology.
Kekoa Taparra, MD, PhD, is a physician-scientist trainee and resident in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Taparra trained under the mentorship of Dr. Phuoc Tran MD, PhD, at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He was awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health to conduct research on molecular mechanisms of cancer driven by sugar metabolism and epithelial plasticity transcriptional programs. As the first Native Hawaiian physician-scientist, he has personally seen how underrecognized Pacific Islander health disparities are in the US. Dr. Taparra has demonstrated an incredible passion for his Pacific Islander communities and continues his mission toward health equity through cancer research. His goal is to become an independent physician-scientist and lead a research team that focuses on health equity, particularly among Pacific Islanders.
Shannon M. White, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Michael Snyder’s laboratory in the Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. White received her PhD in Tumor Biology from Georgetown University, where she gained extensive experience in molecular signaling, cancer biology, and epigenetics. Dr. White has a passion for studying epigenetic mechanisms of gene regulation in cancer. Throughout her research career in cancer biology, she has trained in a spectrum of disciplines ranging from protein signaling to metabolomics to epigenetics and led both mechanistic and computational-driven projects. Dr. White aspires to become an independent investigator and wants to focus on using 3D cultures of tumor samples to identify the myriad of diverse molecular mechanisms that drive drug resistance and cancer progression and investigate new therapeutic strategies based on these findings.
The SCI has funded the Fellowship Awards dating back to 2014. A list of funded projects prior to 2020 is available upon request.
Maria Angulo-Ibanez, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Katrin Chua, where she studies the molecular mechanisms and physiologic functions of the Sirtuin gene SIRT7 at the intersection of cancer and aging biology. Dr. Angulo-Ibanez obtained her PhD in Immunology at the University of Barcelona, Spain. Her research interests center around fundamental cancer research. As a graduate student, Dr. Angulo-Ibanez studied the function of ERK5, a MAP kinase, in genome integrity maintenance and hematopoiesis. She discovered that the absence of Erk5 impairs hematopoietic development through the deregulation of intracellular dNTP pools. Moreover, Erk5 loss facilitates tumor development in Atm-deficient mice.
Dr. Crossley is a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Karlene Cimprich, a member of the SCI and the Chemical and Systems Biology Department. Dr. Crossley has a longstanding interest in how RNA and transcription influence the processes that maintain the stability of our genome. Deregulation of these processes leads to increased levels of DNA damage and genome instability, which are hallmarks of cancer. Increasingly, genome instability is also recognized as a vulnerability of cancer cells that can be exploited therapeutically. It is therefore critical to have a deep mechanistic understanding of how genome instability arises in cells, which has been a strong motivation in Dr. Crossley’s research.
Dr. Lo is a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Calvin Kuo’s laboratory. Dr. Lo is interested to understand the control of gastrointestinal and cancer stem cell biology, especially how critical intrinsic genetic mutations and extrinsic extracellular components within the microenvironment influence cell behaviors. Stem cells of the gastrointestinal tract give rise to the surface lining of the epithelium and must continuously produce new cells to replace those shed into the lumen throughout the lifespan. When mutations accumulate in these stem cells, they can grow uncontrollably into benign polyps or malignant tumors. Dr. Lo has focused his efforts on establishing next-generation CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing tools and applying them to gain insight into how different signaling pathways can contribute to gastrointestinal stem cell activity and tumorigenesis.
Dr. Soji is a radiation oncology resident who studies the mechanisms underlying natural killer (NK) cell exclusion in solid tumors. He is interested in increasing the therapeutic index of radiation therapy using small molecules and biological agents. This interest started during his undergraduate studies, where he focused on the targeted delivery of chemotherapeutic agents using tamoxifen. He subsequently enrolled in a medical scientist training program and completed his doctoral thesis in medicinal chemistry, where he designed, synthesized, characterized and tested novel histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors which are known to radiosensitize tumors. Currently, he is investigating the role of the innate immune system in cancer, particularly the mechanism of NK cell migration in the tumor microenvironment, under the mentorship of Quynh Le, MD. Dr. Sodji intends to continue onward in this novel area of research in radiation oncology and cancer biology as a physician-scientist.
Dr. Tang’s research career has been focused on translating advanced biomedical knowledge into therapeutic strategies. Through his postdoctoral training in Dr. Monte Winslow’s laboratory, Dr. Tang has acquired a unique set of skills that will allow him to apply molecular, cellular biology and mouse models to study human cancer. Metastasis is a major clinical challenge driven by poorly understood cell state alterations. By incorporating increasingly quantitative methods and powerful in vivo methods, Dr. Tang intends to uncover general rules that govern tumor progression and metastatic spread and discover novel therapeutic targets across the continuum of cancer progression, including the lethal metastatic stage.
Dr. Vogel is a postdoctoral fellow at the Stanford Prevention Research Center in the Department of Medicine and is supported by a fellowship award from the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program. As a social psychologist, Dr. Vogel considers experimental research imperative for understanding health behaviors and empowering individuals to improve their quality of life and reduce their cancer risk. Tobacco use is among the leading causes of cancer worldwide. Dr. Vogel’s current research program aims to understand the influence of social media on young people’s tobacco use and develop digital interventions for tobacco and other substance use. Long-term, she aims to establish an independent academic research career in cancer prevention, using digital tools to address young people’s tobacco use and other addictive behaviors.
Corinne Beinat, PhD
Corinne Beinat, PhD completed her doctoral training in medicinal chemistry and pharmacology and has since utilized these skills to expand her research in the fields of molecular imaging and cancer biology. She studies the development of novel small molecule radiotracers and evaluation of biomarkers for the molecular imaging of tumor biology. While working in the laboratory of Sam Gambhir, MD, PhD, she synthesized and evaluated a novel positron emission tomography (PET) radiotracer, [18F]DASA-23, which provides a measure of aberrantly expressed pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2) in glioblastoma. PKM2 regulates brain tumor metabolism, a key factor in glioblastoma growth. Due to the promising results obtained, this radiotracer was recently translated to the clinic and is now being studied in patients with intracranial malignancies at Stanford.
Graham Erwin, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Genetics
Graham Erwin, PhD, is a postdoctoral research fellow who is interested in repetitive DNA sequences, known as long tandem-repeat (TR) sequences. As a graduate student, he developed a new class of synthetic transcription factors which regulate a critical step of transcription. His vision is to combine his graduate work creating new chemical tools to target repetitive DNA sequences with his postdoctoral work in cancer genomics. He is mining cancer genomes for mutations in TRs. His research in the laboratory of Michael Snyder, PhD, aims to study how TR sequences impact cancer biology and harness that information to devise new precision-targeted therapies that target these DNA sequences.
Zinaida Good, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Stanford Cancer Institute
Zinaida Good, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow who is training under Crystal L. Mackall, MD, and Sylvia K. Plevritis, PhD. Her research is focused on investigating how chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-expressing T lymphocytes succeed or fail in patients, in order to guide the design of the next generation of engineered cell therapies. Her projects include: (1) identification of CAR T-cell populations that are associated with durable complete response in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) patients receiving a CD19-targeted therapy Axicabtagene ciloleucel; (2) defining features of successful CAR T-cell clones in DLBCL patients receiving bispecific CD19/CD22-targeted CAR T cells on a Stanford trial; and (3) identifying modulation points to improve CAR T-cell function within the tumor microenvironment in DLBCL and solid tumors. Her goal is to utilize innovative single-cell analysis methods and advanced algorithms to identify promising immunotherapy strategies for patients with cancer.