Runyon award goes to third Vanderbilt-Ingram scientist since 2002

The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation has awarded its major clinical investigator award to a Vanderbilt physician-scientist for the third time since 2002.

Christine Chung, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology, is the second investigator mentored by David P. Carbone, M.D., Ph.D., to receive the Damon Runyon Research Foundation/Lilly Clinical Investigator Award.

The award is intended to foster the careers of promising young investigators who are dedicated to conducting patient-oriented research

"This award is a great honor for Dr. Chung and we are very proud of her accomplishments," said Eric G. Neilson, M.D., Morgan Professor and Chairman of the Department of Medicine.

"Christine is Vanderbilt's third recipient of the Runyon Award and the second under David Carbone's mentorship. With this kind of talent, Vanderbilt is clearly a superb place to begin a career in cancer research."

The award will provide $750,000 over five years to support Chung's work to use DNA microarray technology to identify patterns of gene expression to predict which patients with head and neck cancers are likely to experience a recurrence and which recurrent tumors will respond to specific chemotherapies. The award also will retire up to $100,000 in medical school debt.

"Treatment of head and neck cancers is notoriously difficult because of the many important structures in this area that are involved with vital functions such as eating, breathing and talking," Chung said.

"New treatments with chemotherapy and radiation therapy can preserve these structures, but they also can have serious side effects. In about half of patients with head and neck cancers, the tumor will recur despite initially responding well to therapy. "We hope that as a result of our studies, we will be able to do a better job at ensuring patients receive the treatment that will give them the best chances of a cure."

Contact: Cynthia Floyd Manley
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

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