October 20, 2015 — It was announced this week that two faculty members from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health—Xihong Lin and Brendan Manning—received prestigious National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator Awards (OIA). These multimillion-dollar seven-year awards, providing extended funding stability, are aimed at giving promising and productive investigators enough time and money to continue or embark on projects of unusual potential in cancer research—and to take greater risks in their work.
Lin, Henry Pickering Walcott Professor of Biostatistics and chair of the Department of Biostatistics, is globally recognized for her leadership and expertise in statistical genetics and genomics. She will receive $6.6 million to develop and apply innovative statistical and computational methods for analyzing massive genetic and genomic data in cancer epidemiology and clinical science. This work will aid in the development of cutting-edge methods for discovering genetic and environmental factors of cancer; provide a better understanding of cancer progression; and inform new approaches to studying cancer progression and new treatment strategies.
“I am very much flattered by this enabling award,” said Lin. “The award gives me plenty of flexibility and freedom to explore cutting-edge data science research in cancer.”
Manning, professor of genetics and complex diseases, has led seminal research over the past decade that has shaped understanding of the mechanisms and potential therapeutic targets for the treatment of human diseases, with a core focus on genetic tumor syndromes and sporadic cancers. His highly innovative approach integrates biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, bioinformatics, and animal models. He will receive $5.3 million for efforts to define the wiring and functions of a signaling network—the PI3K-mTOR network—that is aberrantly regulated at a high frequency across a wide spectrum of human cancers. Manning will examine the critical role of this network in influencing the sensitivity and resistance of tumors to targeted cancer therapies and in tumor cell metabolism.
“I am honored to receive this award on behalf of the members of my laboratory, both past and present, who made the foundational discoveries on which our future research is grounded,” said Manning. “This seven-year grant, its substantial resources and the freedom of its structure will allow us to explore some of the most difficult, but critically important, aspects of tumor biology.”
photo: Emily Cuccarese