Oct 06, 2017 10:00 AM

Gurkan Mollaoglu
Gurkan Mollaoglu

Gurkan Mollaoglu, a graduate student in the Oliver Lab at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah, received an F99 NCI Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Award. This prestigious grant recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students who have demonstrated potential and interest in pursuing careers as independent cancer researchers. The award will support Mollaoglu’s research on the role of oncogenes (genes that have the potential to cause cancer) in lung cancer. We asked him to talk about his research and the significance of receiving this award.

In a broad perspective, I am studying the role of oncogenes in lung cancer by developing and employing genetically engineered mouse models. We further use human tissue samples, cell lines, and bioinformatics data in order to translate our findings into potential future clinical practices.

“In my first project, we demonstrated how MYC, a well-known oncogene, promotes tumor heterogeneity in small cell lung cancer and renders tumors vulnerable to specific treatment options (Mollaoglu et al., Cancer Cell 2017). For my second project, I aim to understand how oncogenes in non-small cell lung cancer modify the tumor immune microenvironment. As we are witnessing the cancer immunotherapy revolution, we also realize the need to better understand complex interactions among cancer cells and immune cells. We hope our findings will be valuable to further improve cancer immunotherapies.

“I was honored to represent HCI and the University of Utah in this highly competitive application process. Unlike most other grants, which are awarded for specific projects, the NCI Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Award is designed to support individual scientists based on their research and training plans. Therefore, I am exhilarated for recognition of my potential to become a leading cancer biologist. I hope to fulfill that potential and be among the scientists and physicians who will make a significant contribution to improve cancer patients’ quality of life and survival.”

trainees cancer research lung cancer