T H E   N I H    C A T A L Y S T      J U L Y  –  A U G U S T   2002


Carolyn Best began her fourth postdoc year this July with the help of the Sallie Rosen Kaplan Fellowship. The first recipient of the new award, Best works in the Pathogenetics Unit (chief, Michael Emmert-Buck) of the NCI Laboratory of Pathology (chief, Lance Liotta)

The NCI Fellowship Office has announced the opening of the first national competition for the Sallie Rosen Kaplan Fellowship, an award sponsored by the Foundation for the NIH to support women postdoctoral scientists in cancer research. Carolyn Best, the first recipient of the award (made this year to extend the work of a current postdoc), describes below the research she’s been involved in and the work the fellowship will enable her to continue.

Research Focus

We are investigating the gene expression changes that occur during human prostate cancer progression. The technology of cDNA microarrays allows for the simultaneous measurement of the expression levels of tens of thousands of genes, and we have been able to identify groups of genes whose expression changes as prostate cancer progresses from early to more advanced stages.

For example, the majority of men diagnosed with prostate cancer have moderate-grade tumors with an uncertain prognosis. Most of these men will do well with conservative treatment; however, a significant percentage of these tumors will behave as though they were high-grade—they will quickly metastasize. We have identified numerous genes that differ significantly in tumors and normal tissue and have developed a profile of 21 genes that differentiate high-grade from moderate-grade prostate cancer. These data provide important insight into prostate tumorigenesis and may have clinical utility in the identification of key molecular features of aggressive cancer.

Continuing Research

One of our highest priorities is following up on the expression-profiling data generated thus far. For example, the 21 candidate genes that may be able to differentiate high- and moderate-grade prostate cancer must be validated in a much larger number of cases and using different technological methods. In addition, our initial expression-profiling effort has resulted in several new collaborations to verify our findings both technically and biologically.

—Carolyn Best

The deadline for applications and supporting letters in the first national competition is February 1, 2003, for postdoctoral fellowships beginning in July 2003. Selected candidates will be notified May 1, 2003. For application criteria and instructions to apply online (strongly encouraged) or by mail, contact Lee McPhatter at 301-496-4796 (fax: (301) 451-6238). For additional information, see also the NCI Fellowship Office website.



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