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Student Researcher Owen Tan Named 2017 St. Baldrick’s Summer Fellow

To support his research at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Owen Tan, a student at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, has been awarded a $5,000 summer fellowship grant from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.

Student Owen Tan with Nagi G. Ayad, Ph.D.

From left, student Owen Tan with Nagi G. Ayad, Ph.D.

The Miller School is one of only 21 institutions in the U.S. — and the only one in Florida — to receive a grant. Tan plans to use his to support his research into pediatric brain tumors.

Tan will be working at Sylvester’s University of Miami Brain Tumor Initiative under the mentorship of Nagi Ayad, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

“Owen is a very talented and motivated medical student who possesses the right balance of intelligence, persistence and laboratory skill to become a productive and successful physician-scientist,” said Ayad, whose laboratory has focused on research in brain tumor and spinal cord injury.

Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant pediatric brain tumor, and typically the prognosis is poor. Although surgical resection and radiotherapy are effective in eliminating some forms of medulloblastoma, more aggressive tumors do not respond to any treatment. In addition, patients who respond to classical treatment often suffer from cognitive deficits.

“I hope to uncover novel combination therapies for the treatment of medulloblastoma,” said Tan. “We have identified two proteins that are possible therapeutic targets. When we learn the mechanism of these proteins in cancer cell progression, we can test brain inhibitors of the proteins in animal models of medulloblastoma to identify clinical candidates.”

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is the largest non-governmental funder of childhood cancer research grants. The summer fellow awards are the first series of grants to be awarded by the Foundation this year. They funded a total of $24.1 million childhood cancer research grants in 2016.

Tags: Brain Cancer Initiative, brain tumors, Miller School of Medicine, Nagi G. Ayad, Owen Tan, St. Baldrick's Foundation, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Miami