Sherwin Kelekar, an M.D./Ph.D. student in the DeBerardinis lab at CRI, was awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service F30 Award from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). These competitive grants support students preparing for a career as a physician-scientist who are pursuing a dual M.D. and Ph.D. degree. This grant will provide Kelekar with $150,000 in support over a four-year period to study hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), one of the most prevalent forms of liver cancer that’s currently on the rise in the United States.
“I am really grateful to receive support from the NCI for my work. This award would not have been possible without help from the community around me. The members of my lab, my mentor Dr. DeBerardinis, and CRI all played essential roles in supporting me through the different stages of the grant proposal,” says Kelekar.
As part of the DeBerardinis lab, Kelekar is investigating the metabolic changes that can promote HCC cells. HCC is the most common form of liver cancer, and few therapies are effective in treating this malignant disease. Less than 10% of patients who have HCC survive beyond 5 years. With the support of this grant, Kelekar will examine the role of the enzyme glucose-6-phosphatase (G6PC) in HCC development, with a focus on the role this enzyme plays in the initiation of liver cancer in pediatric patients. His work has the potential to provide new insights into HCC pathogenesis and uncover new treatment options for patients with HCC.
“Mutations in some metabolic enzymes, including G6PC, raise the risk of cancer in children,” says Dr. Ralph DeBerardinis, a professor at CRI and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. “Sherwin’s work will help us understand what it is about these particular metabolic defects that prime cells for malignancy, and hopefully uncover ways to break the cycle.”