The V Foundation for Cancer Research Awards 2012 V Scholars


Grants Totaling $3.4 Million Awarded to 17 Scientists Nationwide

The V Foundation for Cancer Research, one of the nation's leading cancer research funding organizations, is proud to announce the recipients of the 2012 V Scholar grants. These two-year, $200,000 grants are being awarded to seventeen outstanding young researchers located in 14 states.  This $3.4 million initiative, which funds "rising star" physicians and scientists as they begin their careers in cancer research, is an important and compelling component of The V Foundation's overall grant objective. 

"The V Scholars are chosen from the best and brightest young cancer researchers across our country," said Robert C. Bast, Jr., M.D., Vice President for Translational Research at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board.  "We are investing in the careers of scientists whose discoveries will cure this large family of diseases."  

V Scholars are selected through a competitive process conducted by the Foundation's Scientific Advisory Board.  This stellar Board is composed of leading cancer specialists from around the country.  The V Scholar award funds specific research being conducted by the young investigator within their academic research center.  It provides the V Scholar with much-needed resources to help them advance their cutting-edge research and to strengthen their ability to receive additional grant funding throughout their careers. 

"Supporting cancer investigators early in their career not only advances specific research projects that are at the forefront of scientific discovery," said Susan Braun, CEO of The V Foundation.  "It also adds to the cadre of people dedicated to ending cancer.  We believe that the V Scholar grants are an investment in extraordinary people as well as in important research.  The benefits are lifelong."

This year, the special designation of the Martin D. Abeloff Scholar Award, presented to the highest rated V Scholar, has been awarded to Monte M. Winslow, Ph.D., of the Stanford Cancer Institute.  Additionally, the Albert Wyrick V Scholar Award, funded by Michael and Carole Marks, has been given to Justin D. Lathia, Ph.D., of the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. 

For more information on The V Foundation, please visit or call 1-800-4JimmyV.

About The V Foundation for Cancer Research
The V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded in 1993 by ESPN and the late Jim Valvano, legendary North Carolina State basketball coach and ESPN commentator. Since 1993, The Foundation has funded more than $100 million in cancer research grants nationwide. It awards 100 percent of all direct cash donations and net proceeds of events directly to cancer research and related programs. Administrative and fundraising expenses are paid by their endowment. The Foundation awards grants through a competitive awards process strictly supervised by a Scientific Advisory Board. For more information on The V Foundation or to make a donation, please visit

A complete list of the 2012 V Foundation grant recipients follows.

Martin D. Abeloff, M.D. V Scholar Award*
Monte M. Winslow, Ph.D.
Stanford Cancer Institute
Stanford, CA
Functional characterization of Nkx2-1 regulated genes that govern lung cancer metastasis

Albert Wyrick V Scholar Award
Justin D. Lathia, Ph.D.

Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine
Cleveland, OH
Holding on to stemness: targeting mechanisms that maintain glioblastoma stem cells
Funded by Michael and Carole Marks

Hiu Wing Cheung, Ph.D.
Medical University of South Carolina
Hollings Cancer Center
Charleston, SC
Role of ID4 in ovarian cancer development and metastasis

Christina Curtis, Ph.D.
University of Southern California
Keck School of Medicine
Los Angeles, CA
Interrogating  patient-specific tumor dynamics through single cell profiles and computational modeling

Todd Fehniger, M.D., Ph.D.
Washington University in St. Louis
Siteman Cancer Center
St. Louis, MO
Enhanced innate immunity to cancer utilizing human memory-like NK cells

Daniel A. Harki, Ph.D.
University of Minnesota
Masonic Cancer Center
Minneapolis, MN
Beyond Parthenolide:  Next generation molecules targeting AML cancer stem cells

Qing Li, M.D., Ph.D.
University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center
Ann Arbor, MI
Nras signaling in hematopoietic stem cells and leukemic stem cells

Unhee Lim, Ph.D.
University of Hawaii Cancer Center
Honolulu, HI
Investigating global leukocyte DNA methylation for predicting colorectal cancer risk in a multiethnic population

Mohammad (Mo) Motamedi, Ph.D.
Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center
Charlestown, MA
The role of Sirtuins in epigenetics and genomic stability

Trudy G. Oliver, Ph.D.
Huntsman Cancer Institute
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, UT
Understanding Myc's role in small cell lung cancer

Asha Bhaskaran Pillai, M.D.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Memphis, TN
Augmenting cytotoxicity of ex vivo expanded human iNKT cells for cancer immunotherapy

Jeffrey W. Tyner, Ph.D.
Oregon Health and Science University
Knight Cancer Institute
Portland, OR
Translation of novel mutations in CSF3R into validated therapeutic modalities

Christopher R. Vakoc, M.D., Ph.D.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Cold Spring Harbor, NY
Therapeutic targeting of the Polycomb Complex PRC2 in acute myeloid leukemia

Jeffrey Venstrom, M.D.
UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
San Francisco, CA
Mechanisms and strategies for recruiting natural killer cells to cure acute myeloid leukemia
2012 Wine Celebration Volunteer Grant in Honor of Derek and Cathy Reisinger

Jessie Villanueva, Ph.D.
The Wistar Institute
Philadelphia, PA
Establishing molecular targets for NRAS driven melanomas:  an unmet medical need

Sara (Sadie) Wignall, Ph.D.
Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern University
Chicago, IL
Targeting centrosome-clustering mechanims to selectively kill cancer cells

Xiaoyang Wu, Ph.D.
University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Institute
Chicago, IL
Spectraplakin and coordinated cytoskeletal dynamics in colorectal cancer

*The research project that receives the highest rating by the Scientific Advisory Board will annually be designated as the Martin D. Abeloff, M.D. V Scholar Award. 

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