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VICCís Lovly lands young investigator award from ASCO

BY: DAGNY STUART

4/21/2011 - Christine Lovly, M.D., Ph.D., a fellow in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC), has been selected to receive a 2011 Young Investigator Award from the Conquer Cancer Foundation of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Christine Lovly, M.D., Ph.D.

Christine Lovly, M.D., Ph.D.

The $50,000 grant will help fund Lovly's research on the molecular mechanisms that alter the effectiveness of cancer drugs used to treat a group of lung cancer patients who have a specific genetic mutation in their tumor.

“I am incredibly honored to be chosen to receive one of the Young Investigator Awards,” said Lovly, who works in the research laboratory of William Pao, M.D., Ph.D., director of Personalized Cancer Medicine at VICC. Pao and Lovly specialize in treating lung cancer patients.

“This grant will aid in research to define the mechanisms of acquired resistance to ALK tyrosine kinase inhibitor drugs,” explained Lovly.

Genomic alterations in the ALK gene are implicated in several cancers, including lung cancer and lymphoma. While drugs that inhibit the ALK tyrosine kinase or protein are often effective, all too often tumors develop resistance to the drugs and the cancer starts growing again.

“We are trying to determine what is happening at the molecular level to block the effectiveness of these drugs. We may be able to use a different drug or a combination of drugs to interrupt this mechanism and keep the cancer at bay,” said Lovly.

Recipients of the Young Investigator Awards will be honored during a special ceremony at the ASCO Annual Meeting in Chicago in June.

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