Two Dana-Farber researchers receive prestigious New Innovator Award from the National Institutes of Health

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Philip Kranzusch, PhD and Mariella Filbin, MD, PhD of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have received New Innovator Awards from the National Institutes of Health’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research program. The prestigious award supports exceptionally creative early career investigators pursuing highly innovative research with the potential for broad impact in biomedical, behavioral, or social sciences.

Kranzusch, a Principal Investigator in the Cancer Immunology and Virology Department and Filbin Research Co-Director, Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Program at Dana-Farber, are recognized among 106 other highly distinguished innovative scientists and will receive funding $1,500,000 over five years to further his impact on and address challenges in relation to biomedical science.

Kranzusch’s lab investigates how cells respond to pathogens and how scientists might use those response pathways to develop new therapies for cancer and autoimmune diseases. In one branch of his research, he aims to uncover the detailed workings of a cell signaling pathway called cGAS-STING, which helps cells recognize abnormal DNA and has piqued some researchers' interest as a potential avenue for training the immune system to fight cancer.

Filbin’s lab studies pediatric brain tumors, with particular focus on lethal gliomas and malignant embryonal brain tumors that are in greatest need of improved treatments. She is helping researchers better understand how specific developmental and cellular features give rise to tumor-driving mutations and affect the resulting tumors. This knowledge, in turn, provides a foundation for designing new therapies that stop cell over-proliferation or trigger tumor cell death.

“The science put forward by this cohort is exceptionally novel and creative and is sure to push at the boundaries of what is known,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “These visionary investigators come from a wide breadth of career stages.

The High-Risk, High-Reward Research program is aimed at supporting compelling, high-risk research proposals that may struggle in the traditional peer review process despite their transformative potential. The program consists of four awards: The NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, New Innovator Award, Transformative Research Award and Early Independence Award.

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