2018 BCAN Young Investigator Awardees

The 2018 BCAN Young Investigator Award will support the research of Philip Abbosh, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, at Fox Chase Cancer Center, for his work on “Next-generation sequencing to enhance initial staging and dynamically monitor disease response in upper tract urothelial carcinoma (UTUC).” Dr. Abbosh will evaluate the performance of a novel urinary biomarker test to enhance current clinical staging before kidney removal surgery in patients with UTUC.  Successful development of this urinary biomarker test will improve urologists’ abilities to accurately determine the grade and stage of a patient’s disease and allow them to determine if surgery may be avoided and will improve patient outcomes. Support for this award comes from an anonymous donor.

Dr. Abbosh is a urologic oncologist and translational laboratory researcher at Fox Chase Cancer Center.  The Abbosh lab is especially focused on surgical patients with bladder and/or upper tract cancers, using urinary DNA from the tumor to potentially guide treatment (or nontreatment) of these patients.  They are developing improved methods of applying this urinary biomarker platform to dynamically monitor disease grade, stage, and treatment response in patients with bladder and upper tract cancers.  In addition, the Abbosh lab also uses a variety of cell-based and mouse models as well as patient derived tissues to understand why patients respond, in addition to next generation sequencing approaches to identify which patients responded.

The Palm Beach New Discoveries Young Investigators Award will further the research of David Oh, MD, PhD, a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of California, San Francisco, for his proposal “Modulation of regulatory T cells in the bladder tumor environment by anti-PD-L1 immunotherapy.” Newly approved immunotherapy treatments provide exciting new options for bladder cancer patients, but we need a better understanding of which patients are likely to respond to immunotherapy.  Dr. Oh’s research focuses on how anti-PD-L1 therapy affects the number and distribution of regulatory T cells in various tumor environments, advancing the understanding of how regulatory T cells can be targeted by immunotherapy to bring benefit to bladder cancer patients.  This award is made possible by proceeds from the 2017 New Discoveries Research Lecture & Luncheon held in Palm Beach, Florida.

Dr. Oh received his AB in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard College in 2000, a combined MD/PhD as part of the Stanford Medical Scientist Training Program in 2011, and completed a residency in Internal Medicine and fellowship training in Hematology/Oncology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in 2017. He is a board-certified Medical Oncologist focused on research efforts in the laboratory and clinic to develop novel cancer immunotherapies for patients with genitourinary malignancies, specifically bladder and prostate cancers. Clinically he treats patients with novel immunotherapies on clinical trials including first-in-human testing for solid malignancies with a focus on genitourinary cancers. He also works as a translational laboratory investigator under the mentorship of Lawrence Fong, where he is currently using deep immune profiling of samples from bladder cancer patients treated with immunotherapies to understand how these treatments may modify the function of known and novel immune cell populations, as well as the specific antigens that these immune cells recognize or “see”. With the support of the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network Young Investigator Award, he will focus on how checkpoint inhibition (anti-PD-L1) in the context of an ongoing neoadjuvant clinical trial in localized bladder cancer may affect the activity and antigenic specificity of regulatory T cells (Tregs) in the bladder tumor environment, potentially opening up novel Treg-focused approaches to enhance anti-tumor responses with immunotherapy in bladder cancer.

The Palm Beach New Discoveries Young Investigator Award for Patient-Centered Clinical Research has been granted to Eugene Lee, MD, for his proposal, “The implementation of nutrition education videos for patients undergoing radical cystectomy.” Removal of the bladder, with or without chemotherapy, to treat bladder cancer is extremely difficult on patients, especially patients who have poor nutrition. Dr. Lee will create a video series geared towards helping patients improve nutritional status around the time of surgery and chemotherapy. His research will evaluate how well the videos convey the nutrition messages. This award is made possible by proceeds from the 2017 New Discoveries Research Lecture & Luncheon held in Palm Beach, Florida. 

Dr. Lee is an Assistant Professor of Urology at the University of Kansas Health System. He serves as the Director of Clinical Research and as the Program Director for the Urologic Oncology Fellowship Program. After completion of his residency training at the University of Kansas, he completed a urologic oncology fellowship at the University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Lee is a surgeon-scientist who focuses on improving perioperative outcomes in patients undergoing radical cystectomy for bladder cancer. Specifically, he has an interest in mobile health technology, patient education, and nutrition. In the laboratory, Dr. Lee studies the relationship of Diabetes mellitus and carbohydrate intake on bladder cancer recurrence and progression. Dr. Lee maintains an active urologic oncology practice with a special focus in bladder and kidney cancers.