Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
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Jaehyuk Choi Receives Prestigious Doris Duke-Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator Award

Jaehyuk Choi, MD, PhD, assistant professor in dermatology and biochemistry and molecular genetics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, is one of seven scientists chosen as a 2016 recipient of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation’s prestigious Clinical Investigator Award.

Choi, who was named the Doris Duke- Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator, will receive a $450,000 grant over three years from the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation.  The award funds outstanding early career physician-scientists conducting patient-oriented cancer research at major research centers under the mentorship of the nation’s leading scientists and clinicians.

Choi’s project is titled, "Identification of genetic basis of altered T cell receptor signaling in cutaneous T cell lymphoma." Cutaneous T cell lymphoma (CTCL) is an incurable cancer of the immune T cells in the skin. In advanced disease, the cells escape into the blood, the lymph nodes, and at times the visceral organs. Patients with advanced disease eventually succumb to a combination of tumor burden and disease-related immunosuppression.

Dr. Choi has recently used next generation sequencing to identify gene mutations that he hypothesizes are important for CTCL pathogenesis. He will molecularly dissect how these gene mutations alter signaling pathways in CTCL, using human models and patient samples. His ultimate goal is to identify novel therapeutic strategies that selectively target CTCL cancer cells, hastening the development of a cure for this intractable disease. At the Lurie Cancer Center, Dr. Choi works under the mentorship of Stephen D. Miller, PhD, and John D. Crispino, PhD.

He will be co-funded through a partnership with the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation through its 2016 Clinical Scientist Development Awards.

The Clinical Investigator Award program is specifically intended to help address the shortage of physicians capable of translating scientific discovery into new breakthroughs for cancer patients. Through partnerships with industry sponsors and its Accelerating Cancer Cures initiative, the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation has committed nearly $56 million to support the careers of 88 physician-scientists across the United States since 2000.

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