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Surgeon-Scientist’s Work in Pancreatic Cancer Receives National Recognition

Dr. Jashodeep Datta garnered the Young Physician-Scientist Award from the American Society for Clinical Investigation.

Inside the laboratories of Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, South Florida’s only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, research is advancing precision oncology and cancer therapy.

One of these labs belongs to Jashodeep Datta, M.D., assistant professor of surgical oncology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and DiMare Family Endowed Chair in Immunotherapy, who was recently named winner of the prestigious Young Physician-Scientist Award from the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI).

From left, Iago de Castro Silva, M.D., Anna Bianchi, M.S., Jashodeep Datta, M.D. and Nilesh Deshpande, Ph.D.

Since 2013, ASCI has bestowed this award on physician-scientists who have made notable achievements in their research in the early stages of their first faculty appointments. Dr. Datta, also the associate director of translational research at the Sylvester Pancreatic Cancer Research Institute (SPCRI), is one of 52 honorees in this year’s cohort, one of two surgeons selected and the only physician-scientist in Florida to be recognized. 

“This recognition is not an individual accolade but a testament to the amazing teams we have built at Sylvester and the infrastructure we have created to succeed,” said Dr. Datta. “An award of this stature emphasizes the elite quality of work we’re doing in Miami and how it’s penetrating to a wider audience to earn recognition for our cancer center and community.”

Scientific Goals in Pancreatic Cancer and Immunotherapy

ASCI reviews nominated researchers within their first five years of being appointed faculty. Awardees typically have groundbreaking research, symbolized by publications, grants and an active leadership presence.

Dr. Datta’s research in myeloid immunobiology views pancreatic cancer through the lens of the immune system. He is working to better understand how pancreatic cancers corrupt early “first responders” and turn them into tumor-promoting machines. The ultimate goal of his lab is to target cells that sustain immunosuppression and inflammation and cause resistance to chemotherapy and immunotherapy. 

“The needle in pancreatic cancer hasn’t moved much in 20 years,” Dr. Datta said. “I believe that the way forward is to harness disparate elements of its biology to pursue combination treatments that will optimize responses in this disease. Another key is to deeply study why patients respond or don’t to certain treatments, because one size will not fit all patients.”

The Datta Lab and SPCRI members drive discoveries with innovative clinical trials. One trial developed from research conducted at Sylvester is already recruiting patients and two others are in development. All three are designed to explore how social determinants of health interplay with patient treatment.

Ingredients for Success as an Early Career Physician-Scientist

Winning the Young Physician-Scientist award builds upon the many accolades Dr. Datta has already received. He was previously awarded the Joel J. Roslyn Faculty Research Award from the Association for Academic Surgery. He won a $250,000 career development grant from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, in addition to his appointments at Sylvester and oncological recognitions.

“I think it’s the passion and hunger I have for this work that allows people to connect with our science and buy into our mission,” Dr. Datta said. “We want to transform lives by doing groundbreaking science and building strong teams while staying laser-focused on the most important component of this mission—the patient.”

Dr. Datta believes that scientific resilience, personal drive characterized by humility and insightful clinical observations are vital to a physician-scientist’s success. He also has a strong base of mentors and sponsors to help him succeed. He is particularly thankful to Stephen Nimer, M.D., director of Sylvester and ASCI member, for nominating him for this award.

“Dr. Datta is an example of the promising junior faculty we are proud to have at Sylvester,” said Dr. Nimer, Oscar de la Renta Endowed Chair in Cancer Research and executive dean for research at the Miller School. “He has demonstrated excellence in the laboratory and in clinical care. This award is a testament to the kind of physician-scientist he is, and I anticipate he will continue to make important progress in pancreas cancer research throughout his career.”

“All of the awards and accolades pale in comparison to our desperate need to make a difference in the treatment of our cancer patients,” Dr. Datta added. “This must serve as our north star and be the driving force behind our work.”

Tags: Dr. Jashodeep Datta, pancreatic cancer, Sylverster Comprehensive Cancer Center, Young Physician-Scientist Award