Sung and David receive 2018 Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award

Friday, January 26, 2018

Anthony Sung, MD, assistant professor of medicine (Hematologic Malignancies and Cellular Therapy), and Lawrence David, PhD, assistant professor of molecular genetics and microbiology, have received a 2018 Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award from the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation.

The award honors Dr. Sung and Dr. Davids work developing a novel microfluidic platform to isolate individual bacteria from a patient’s stool sample and grow them against selected prebiotics, allowing an understanding of how a given patient’s microbiota may respond to different prebiotics. To do this using conventional techniques would take a stack of petri dishes as tall as the Empire State Building and months of work; their innovative system can do it in a single day.

Sung and David believe that by using this novel system, they will be able to predict the best prebiotic for a given patient, thereby manipulating their microbiota and improving cancer outcomes. Their project will test this strategy using patient samples in their artificial gut “bioreactor” as well as in mouse models. The success of this project would lead to clinical trials of personalized prebiotics. 

The Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award funds cancer research by exceptionally creative thinkers with “high-risk/high-reward” ideas who lack sufficient preliminary data to obtain traditional funding. The awardees are selected through a highly competitive and rigorous process by a scientific committee comprised of leading cancer researchers who are innovators themselves. Only those scientists with a clear vision and passion for curing cancer are selected to receive the prestigious award. 

Five initial grants of $300,000 over two years were awarded to six early career scientists (four individuals and one collaborative team) whose projects have the potential to significantly impact the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Each awardee will have the opportunity for up to two additional years of funding (four years total for $600,000). Read the full announcement.