Skip to main content

Trainee Receives National Cancer Institute Award

Sheetal Hardikar, Prasoona Karra, and Mary Playdon standing outside HCI
Sheetal Hardikar, PhD, MBBS, Prasoona Karra, MS, and Mary Playdon, PhD

Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) predoctoral fellow Prasoona Karra, MS, was selected to receive the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Award (F99/K00). These highly competitive awards are presented to "outstanding predoctoral researchers" and are designed to support them in the late stages of PhD training through transition to postdoctoral position. The award provides up to six years of funding. Only a handful are awarded each year from the NCI.

Karra’s award will be used to advance her research program in understanding how changes to metabolism in obesity can influence risk of cancer, as well as survival after a cancer diagnosis.

Karra’s primary mentor, Mary Playdon, PhD, MPH, HCI researcher and University of Utah (U of U) assistant professor of nutrition and integrative physiology, says, "Prasoona’s receipt of this award recognizes her as a promising early career researcher who is tackling critical, unanswered questions that could have a high impact on obesity-related cancers in Utah and beyond."

"I am delighted for Prasoona to receive this award," says one of Karra’s co-mentors, Sheetal Hardikar, PhD, MBBS, HCI researcher and U of U assistant professor of population health sciences. "Her innovative project will help improve our understanding of the role of metabolic dysfunction in cancer risk and prognosis. Having been an international student myself, I know that the opportunities to get federal funding are limited, which makes this achievement even more remarkable."

Karra’s research will focus on metabolic health and 13 obesity-related cancer types. Using data from a large group of adult Utahns followed over decades, Karra will evaluate whether people in the normal weight range who have abnormal metabolic markers, like blood glucose, have similar obesity-related cancer risk to those who are obese. She will also look at how a new diagnosis of type 2 diabetes after cancer can affect survival outcomes in women.

"I feel honored to receive this award," says Karra. "My ultimate research goal is to work with doctors to identify individuals at risk of cancer using sophisticated metabolic data, and help these patients reduce their cancer risk."

Media Contact

Heather Simonsen
Public Relations
Huntsman Cancer Institute
Email Us
801 581-3194

About Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah

Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah (the U) is the National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center for Utah, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Wyoming. With a legacy of innovative cancer research, groundbreaking discoveries, and world-class patient care, we are transforming the way cancer is understood, prevented, diagnosed, treated, and survived. Huntsman Cancer Institute focuses on delivering a cancer-free frontier to all communities in the area we serve. We have more than 300 open clinical trials and 250 research teams studying cancer at any given time. More genes for inherited cancers have been discovered at Huntsman Cancer Institute than at any other cancer center. Our scientists are world-renowned for understanding how cancer begins and using that knowledge to develop innovative approaches to treat each patient’s unique disease. Huntsman Cancer Institute was founded by Jon M. and Karen Huntsman.

Resources for Media

Cancer touches all of us.