Young Investigator Award

Young investigators throughout Georgetown University are eligible to receive research support through an Institutional Research Grant (IRG), awarded by the American Cancer Society to the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. Junior faculty members apply for "seed" money to support research projects. The results obtained from these projects enable the researchers to compete successfully for national research grants, facilitating the transition from postdoctoral trainee to independent scientist. Awards are for one year and are not renewable.

Student Stipend Award

Recognizing the importance of attracting students into research careers, the grant also provides a stipend directed to an outstanding medical student or graduate student in the professional health sciences. The stipend provides an opportunity for a future clinical health professional to pursue cancer-related research while still enrolled in a formal degree program.

Special Interest Award

Recently, the program has emphasized the ACS priority areas of psychosocial and behavioral aspects of cancer; health policies or services research; cancer in the poor or underserved; and childhood cancer. Lombardi selects at least one Special Interest Award project per funding period.

Current Awardees


Chunling Yi, PhD - Develop Small Molecule Yap Inhibitors through Parallel Surface Plasmon Resonance and In Silico Screens
Mentor: Jeffrey Toretsky, MD

Amrita Cheema, PhD, and Keith Unger, MD - Metabolomics for Prognostic Biomarker Discovery of Pancreatic Cancer
Mentor: John Marshall, MD

Darren Mays, PhD, MPH - Enhancing the Impact of Graphic Cigarette Warning Labels for Motivating Cessation Among Young Adult Smokers
Mentor: Kenneth Tercyak, PhD

Past Awardees

Past recipients of the ACS Young Investigator Awards have gone on to successfully publish their work in peer-reviewed journals and compete for extramural grant funding.


  • John Deeken, MD — A Preclinical In Vivo Study of Drug Interactions Between Chemotherapy and Drugs Used to Treat HIV
  • Roxanne Jensen, PhD — Modern Methods for Comparing Impact of Radiotherapy Techniques for Brain Metastases on Patient-Reported Outcomes
  • Lixin Mi, PhD — Structure Activity Relationship on Thiol-Reactive Compunds as Tubulin-Degradation Inducers
  • Ayesha Shajahan, PhD — Differential Roles of Caveolin-1 Variants in Cell Death in Breast Cancer
  • Huei-Ting Tsai, PhD — Health Disparities in the Use and Outcomes of Intermittent Androgen Deprivation Therapy in Prostate Cancer: A Pilot Study Using Population-Based Claims Data


  • Sanjay Adhikari, PhD — Molecular Mechanism of Abasic Site (AP-site) Repair by Apurinic-Apyrimidinic Endonuclease (APE)
  • Mireille Bright-Gbebry, RD, MPH, PhD —Towards Cancer Prevention: A Dietary Questionnaire for West African Immigrants
  • Olga Timofeeva, PhD — Investigation of STAT3 Acetylation in Regulation of Gene Expression in Breast Cancer Cells
  • Sherrie Wallington, PhD — Testing the Feasibility of an HPV Educational Intervention with a Cellular Telephone and Text Message Component (Special Interest Award)


  • Tushar Deb, PhD — Mechanism of Pnck—Induced Tumorigenesis in HER—2 Amplified Human Breast Cancer
  • Suzanne O’Neill, PhD — Breast Cancer Patients’Experience with Risk for Recurrence Testing
  • Rebecca Riggins, PhD — Exposure to the Endocrine Disruptor Bisphenol A Induces Tamoxifen Resistance in ER+ Breast Cancer Through Transcriptional Activation of Estrogen Related Receptor Gamma
  • Tapas Saha, PhD — Role of Chaperone-Mediated Autophagy in Breast Cancer


  • John Deeken, MD — A Pre-Clinical In Vivo Study of Drug Interactions Via the ABCG2 Transporter Between Chemotherapy Agents and Drugs used to Treat HIV
  • Jeanine Genkinger, PhD, MHS — Colorectal Cancer Survivorship: Obesity, Diet and Insulin Resistance
  • Michael Pishvaian, MD, PhD — Targeting Hepatocellular Cancer Through the Inhibition of CDK4
  • Elena Tassi, PhD — Signficance of FGF Binding Protein 3 (FGF-BP3) 
  • for Human Cancers


  • Luciane Cavalli, PhD — Role of BP1Homeobox Gene Amplification in Breast Cancer Tumor Suppressor Gene (Abstract)
  • Sean Collins, MD, PhD — AMP-Activated Protein Kinase as a Molecular Regulator of Prostate Cancer Radiation Resistance (Abstract)
  • Kristi Graves, PhD — Special Interest Award in the area of “Cancer in the Poor or Underserved": Investigating Racial Disparities in BRCA1/2 Counseling and Testing (Abstract)
  • Yun-Ling Zheng, PhD — Genetic Susceptibility to Breast Cancer (Abstract)


  • Insoo Bae, PhD — Role of CRIF1 in Oxidative Stress (Abstract)
  • Kimberly Davis, PhD — Prostate Cancer Symptom Monitoring Study (Abstract)
  • Joanna Kitlinska, PhD — Neuropeptide Y and its Receptors as New Targets in Neuroblastoma Therapy (Abstract)
  • Samuel Waller, MD'08 — Medical Professional Student Stipend: Small-Molecule Inhibitors of Cyclin-Dependent Kinases (Abstract)
  • Chenguang Wang, PhD — Cyclin D1 Regulation of Mitochondrial Metabolism of Cancer Cells through NRF-1(Abstract)


  • Janie Heath, PhD, APRN-BC — Carcinogen exposure and risk reduction among smokers randomized to a tobacco potentially reduced-exposure product (PREP) or medicinal nicotine: a feasibility study
  • Jessica Jones, PhD — Dissecting the functional and physical interaction between the RAG1 V(D)J recombinase and ubiquitin conjugating enzymes
  • Steven Metallo, PhD — Understanding and exploiting macromolecular crowding
  • Thuong-Thuong T. Nguyen, MD'07 — Medical Professional Student Stipend: Role of Laminin-5 Signaling in Formation of Invadopodia and Cell Invasion
  • Judy N. Quong, PhD — Systems biology approach to studying ER pathways in breast cancer


  • Christopher Albanese, PhD — Mouse Prostate Volumetric Measurement by 3D MRI
  • Emma Bowden, PhD — An Investigation into the Role of PTEN-ALK Axis in Osteolytic Bone Metastasis
  • Wenchi Liang, DDS, PhD — Cultural, Psychosocial, and Environment Barriers to Maintaining a Healthy Diet in Inner-City African Americans
  • Marja Nevalainen, MD, PhD — Stat5 As a Critical Survival Factor in Prostate Cancer


Research projects pursued by awardees include:

  • Functional relationship between BRCA1 and ERB in mammary gland;
  • Role and the mechanisms of epithin/matriptase, a type II transmembrane serine protease, in mammary gland development and in breast cancer progression;
  • Clinic-based intervention to promote colorectal cancer screening;
  • Building the foundation for the Lombardi late effects clinic for pediatric cancer survivors;
  • Tamoxifen as chemoprevention in breast cancer patients with BRCA1 mutations: a survey of physician attitudes and predictors of recommendations;
  • Structure determination of Bcl-XL/inhibitor complex for a novel anticancer drug development;
  • Akt inhibits c-Myc-induced apoptosis in mouse mammary epithelial cells: a mechanistic investigation;
  • Signal transduction through the pleiotrophin receptor;
  • Health-promoting and health-compromising behavior among pediatric cancer survivors and their family members: implications for intervention.
How to Apply

The ACS Young Investigator Awards, given out annually, provide funding for the initiation of promising new projects by junior faculty members so they can obtain prelimnary results. The goal is to enable them to compete successfully for national research grants.

General rules, requirements and application can be found on Lombardinet*.

*University NetID and Password required