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May 16, 2014

YOUNG UH CANCER CENTER RESEARCHERS WIN AWARDS

Top scientists, including two Nobel laureates in medicine, chose the winners

2014 Weinman Poster WinnersHONOLULU – Two young researchers at the University of Hawai'i Cancer Center have won awards for scientific research posters they created for the recent Weinman Symposium on cancer.

The awards are the first ever given as part of the symposium, which brings together Nobel laureates and other top scientists to discuss scientific research and its impact on people with cancer. Award winners Travers Ching of Kaimuki and Michelle de la Vega of Moiliili were judged on the quality of the research they conducted, and the presentation of that research. Each receives a certificate and $1,000. Ching, a graduate of Punahou and Cornell, is a doctoral student in the Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering at UH. He currently works as a graduate research assistant for Dr. Lana Garmire in the Cancer Center's Epidemiology program. His poster titled "Integration of methylation, long non-coding RNA and mRNA expression data in Lung Cancer" stems from his work with Garmire in integrating data sets to search for new biomarkers that can be used to fight cancer. The study was done in collaboration with a group from China headed by Dr. Biyun Quinn from Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute.

de la Vega is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts and received her PhD at Queen's University Belfast, in Northern Ireland. She is a post-doctoral researcher under Dr. Michelle Matter in the Natural Products and Experimental Therapeutics program at the Cancer Center.

Her poster was titled "Ptrh2 (Bit-1) mutation causes decreased cell survival and congenital muscle myopathy," and her research examines how a gene mutation affects cell survival during human tissue development.

Ching and de la Vega were chosen by a panel of judges that included Dr. Jules Hoffman and Dr. Bruce Beutler, 2011 co-recipients of the Nobel Prize for medicine, Dr. Paolo Boffetta, director of the Institute for Translational Epidemiology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, and Dr. Ann Chao, Director of Cancer Research Programs, East Asia, at the National Cancer Institute's Center for Global Health.

The Weinman Symposium is supported by the generosity of the Weinman Foundation. In 2010, Barry and Virginia Weinman of Honolulu created the Weinman Foundation Fund for Innovation at the UH Cancer Center. This fund makes it possible for the Center to invite prominent leaders in cancer research to Hawaiʻi every year. While here, they work with the Cancer Center and establish research collaborations with the faculty.

The UH Cancer Center is one of 68 research institutions designated by the National Cancer Institute. Affiliated with the University of Hawai`i at Manoa, the center is dedicated to eliminating cancer through research, education, and improved patient care. Learn more at www.uhcancercenter.org. Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UHCancerCenter. Follow us on Twitter @UHCancerCenter.