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4.25.2018

Dr. Priyamvada Rai of Sylvester Named to Tumor Cell Biology Study Section

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center researcher Priyamvada Rai, Ph.D., has been appointed to the Tumor Cell Biology Study Section of the Center for Scientific Review at the National Institutes of Health.

Being named a member of the study section is a distinct honor and “a unique opportunity to contribute to the national biomedical research effort,” the director of the Center for Scientific Review, Richard Nakamura, Ph.D., said in his letter to Rai, who is an associate professor of medical oncology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Study sections review grant applications submitted to the NIH, make recommendations on the applications to the appropriate NIH advisory council or board, and survey the status of research in their fields of science.

“This is an honor, a chance to give back to the process,” Rai said. “The Tumor Cell Biology Study Section represents a very large group of scientists and reviews grants from the major cancer researchers in the country.”

A major focus of Rai’s research is to develop molecular strategies to reactivate or enhance tumor suppressor pathways such as senescence and apoptosis in cancer cells, by limiting oncogenic signaling through modulation of cellular redox status and DNA repair mechanisms. A collaborative study by Rai and her colleagues, published in the journal Nature Communications last October, identified a novel therapeutic target for incurable prostate cancer. The research found a critical role for thioredoxin-1, a protein that protects cells from oxidative stress, in the progression of prostate cancer to the incurable castration-resistant stage.

“This position allows Dr. Rai to influence the future of cancer research,” said Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., director of Sylvester. “It is a major tribute to the strength of her research accomplishments and her vision for cancer biology.”

The Tumor Cell Biology Study Section reviews applications concerned with signal transduction mechanisms in neoplastic cells, regulation of tumor cell phenotype and behavior, and tumor progression. Emphasis is on signaling processes mediated by kinases, phosphatases and other molecules, including oncogenes, tumor suppressors, various growth factors and receptors, in tumor cells, cancer stem cells, and animal tumor models, with more translational studies in human cells.

Rai, who came to Sylvester after earning a Ph.D. in biophysics at the University of California, Berkeley, and training at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at MIT as a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society post-doctoral fellow, is excited about the opportunity to interact with her colleagues on the study section, all eminent researchers in the tumor biology field, and to help support NIH’s mission of identifying and funding impactful studies that will contribute to reducing the cancer burden in the United States.

“There is an educational component to this service that I find very valuable,” she said. “Given the breadth of grants reviewed at Tumor Cell Biology, this service gives me an incentive to keep up with the field and learn about new areas.”

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