CSHL scientist recognized for accelerating cancer gene research

December 10, 2007

Dr. Lars Zender, a senior clinical postdoctoral fellow at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) was recently awarded a $40,000 grant for his seminal contributions in the field of cancer biology and epigenomics. The grant, presented at the second annual "Cracking the Code with the Bear" Research Symposium, will fund Zender's ongoing cancer research.

At CSHL, Zender studies the genetics and biology of hepatocellular carcinoma, a primary cancer of the liver, and the third leading cause of cancer death worldwide. For the last four years, he has partnered with various CSHL research teams to develop a unique mouse model for liver cancer research, which enabled him to identify new tumor suppressor genes in liver cancer.

"Lars has done an outstanding job integrating work with mouse cancer models, cancer genomics, and RNA interference to identify genes that contribute to human cancer," said Scott Lowe, Ph.D., deputy director of the CSHL Cancer Center and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. "His approach shifts the paradigm. The genes he has identified suggest new approaches for treating cancer. This award is a wonderful recognition of both his current impact and future potential."

The symposium, sponsored by the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation in Chicago, IL, provides a forum for ten exceptional post-doctoral scientists from prominent institutions in the US and Canada to present their current cancer research. The Bear Foundation selected the presenters based on nominations received from mentors and senior leaders in their field of research. In addition to Zender, two other CSHL postdoctoral fellows presented their research. Dr. Danielle Irvine spoke about her work on the role of RNAi-mediated epigenetic genome regulation, and Dr. Julius Brennecke presented his work on piRNAs in the Drosophila germline.

"To have three of the ten qualifying participants at the symposium representing Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is impressive," David L. Spector, Ph.D., CSHL research director said. "CSHL's groundbreaking research is largely due to our ability to attract and nurture the best young scientific minds."

"CSHL is probably the most interactive institution that I know. In my project I was able to combine different state of the art technologies, taking our research to a new level," Zender said. "The combination of 'cutting edge' technologies from different CSHL labs allowed me to address complex biological questions in a highly efficient and effective way." Zender's research was made possible by multidisciplinary collaboration across several CSHL laboratories. Zender leveraged ROMA, a high resolution genome scanning technology pioneered by CSHL to identify and validate two new oncogenes genes for liver cancer.

With the grant, Dr. Zender will be able to continue his project on "in vivo RNAi screening" to identify new tumor suppressor genes in liver cancer. In particular the grant will enable the project to be conducted with the use of even more powerful next generation sequencing technologies.
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Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation is a national organization whose mission is to eliminate pediatric cancer and to provide hope and support to those who are touched by it. For more information, visit www.bearnecessities.org

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is a private, non-profit research and education institution dedicated to exploring molecular biology and genetics in order to advance the understanding and ability to diagnose and treat cancers, neurological diseases, and other causes of human suffering.

For more information, visit www.cshl.edu.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

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