MSU researcher receives prestigious grant award to advance cancer investigations

  • Apr 19, 2016
  • Faculty & Staff, Research, Biochemistry

Cancer treatments are moving in many new directions, which is helping oncologists target tumors and tailor treatments to individual patients. Most of these concepts have been developed over the last 10 years. New research funding by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) hopes to inspire even more research to push innovative treatment results.

Sophia Lunt

MSU's Sophia Lunt is one of only four young investigators nationally to receive a 2016 NextGen Grant for Transformative Cancer Research from the American Association for Cancer Research.

Sophia Lunt, MSU assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology (BMB) in the College of Natural Science (NatSci), certainly understands this concept and, as a result, is one of only four scientists nationally to receive a 2016 NextGen Grant for Transformative Cancer Research from the AACR. Lunt was formally recognized during an awards ceremony this week at AACR’s 2016 annual meeting in New Orleans.

Lunt, whose research focuses on understanding the role of metabolism in supporting cancer proliferation, heterogeneity and metastasis, said that she was thrilled to be selected for the award.

"I am truly honored to receive the AACR NextGen Grant for Transformative Cancer Research,” Lunt said. “This reflects not only the exciting research going on in my laboratory, but also the excellent scientific environment here at MSU.”

The $450,000 grant, which runs over three years beginning July 1, will enable Lunt and her research team to elucidate metabolic pathways indispensable for pancreatic cancer growth, ultimately leading to the development of new combinatorial treatment strategies that she hopes will provide much-needed treatment options for pancreatic cancer patients.

“Professor Lunt is an outstanding researcher in our department who is using mass spectrometry, which has long been a strength of MSU,” said Thomas Sharkey, University Distinguished Professor and BMB chair. “The grant will allow her to make a difference for cancer patients. The department congratulates her on this important recognition and the opportunity to improve the human condition by developing treatments for this deadly cancer.”

“Professor Lunt is an outstanding young researcher, and is a wonderful example of Michigan State's commitment to basic science that has impact on critical societal issues,” said R. James Kirkpatrick, NatSci dean. “On behalf of the college, I extend my congratulations to her on this well-deserved honor.”

The relatively new AACR funding is geared to stimulate highly innovative research from young investigators and is intended to promote and support creative, paradigm-shifting cancer research that may not otherwise be funded through existing channels.