Public Release: 

Dr. Neville Sanjana, CRISPR specialist, receives 2017 Kimmel Scholar Award

New York Genome Center

NEW YORK, NY (April 19, 2017) - The Sidney Kimmel Foundation has selected Dr. Neville Sanjana, Core Member and Assistant Investigator at the New York Genome Center and Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at New York University, to receive the prestigious 2017 Kimmel Scholar Award. Dr. Sanjana received the award to fund his study "Essential Genes For Cancer Immunotherapy," which is designed to leverage the advanced gene-editing technique known as CRISPR to comprehensively survey mutations that allow cancer cells to resist immunotherapy treatment.

Over the past two decades, the Sidney Kimmel Foundation has awarded more than $65 million to promising young cancer researchers to fund their pioneering research to help advance cancer treatment. Selected by a world-class medical advisory board, Kimmel Scholars are awarded a two-year grant totaling $200,000. In 2017, along with Dr. Sanjana, 14 other investigators from some of the country's leading cancer research institutions, including MD Anderson Cancer Center and The Rockefeller University, were recipients of the award.

This award is given to the most promising and creative researchers to support important scientific discoveries in the field of oncology. With the Kimmel Foundation marking the conclusion of the Scholars Program this year, Dr. Sanjana joins the final class of innovative researchers to receive this award.

"We are very proud that Dr. Sanjana's research has been honored and recognized by the Sidney Kimmel Foundation," said Cheryl A. Moore, President and Chief Operating Officer of the New York Genome Center. "Insights gained from Dr. Sanjana's work have the potential to advance next-generation immunotherapy treatments for cancer."

"Our overall goal will be to create a list of actionable mutations for patients enrolled in immunotherapy trials, which will allow oncologists to rapidly recognize mutations that might render a tumor resistant to a treatment and switch the patient to a more effective therapy," said Dr. Sanjana. "As the use of immunotherapy is broadening, we will also test how generalizable the resistance targets are to other cancers such as non-small cell lung cancer, renal cell carcinoma, breast cancer and Hodgkin's lymphoma."

Immunotherapy, which supplements and encourages the body's own immune system to attack cancer, was the first treatment of any kind ever to extend survival in metastatic melanoma. Using specifically designed CRISPR screens, Dr. Sanjana and his lab team will explore and study thousands of genetic mutations related to cancer tumor resistance in a fraction of the time it would take to do this individually. Precise, programmable engineering will allow for parallel editing of each individual gene in a genome, noncoding regions around a single gene of interest or a subset of particular genes. The resulting pool of engineered cells can be tested for virtually any biological phenotype to enable functional discoveries.

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About the New York Genome Center

The New York Genome Center is an independent, nonprofit academic research organization at the forefront of transforming biomedical research and clinical care with the mission of saving lives. A collaboration of renowned academic, medical and industry leaders across the globe, the New York Genome Center's goal is to translate genomic research into development of new treatments, therapies and therapeutics against human disease. Its member organizations and partners are united in this unprecedented collaboration of technology, science and medicine, designed to harness the power of innovation and discoveries to advance genomic services. The New York Genome Center's member organizations are united in this unprecedented collaboration of technology, science and medicine. Their shared objective is the acceleration of medical genomics and precision medicine to benefit patients around the world. For more information, visit our website at http://www.nygenome.org.

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