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UMMS researcher named 2015 Damon Runyon Fellow

Gina V. Caldas, PhD, recognized for gene expression, cancer research

By Megan Bard

UMass Medical School Communications

August 13, 2015
  Gina V. Caldas, PhD
  Gina V. Caldas, PhD

The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation has named Gina V. Caldas, PhD, a 2015 Damon Runyon Fellow.

One of 16 recipients of this prestigious, four-year award, Caldas is considered to be an “outstanding postdoctoral scientist conducting basic and translational cancer research in the laboratories of leading senior investigators across the country.”

The fellowship encourages the nation’s most promising young scientists to pursue careers in cancer research by providing them with independent funding ($208,000 each for basic scientists, $248,000 for physician-scientists) to work on innovative projects.

While at UMass Medical School, Caldas is doing research in the lab of Nobel Laureate Craig C. Mello, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Blais University Chair in Molecular Medicine and distinguished professor of molecular medicine and cell biology & developmental biology. Dr. Mello received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2006 for the co-discovery of RNA interference.

Caldas’ project, "Analysis of CSR- function in C. elegans embryonic cell division," is investigating the mechanisms by which RNA interference (RNAi) related pathways, implicated in cancer primarily through their role in regulating gene expression, contribute to the fidelity of cell division. In addition to major changes in gene expression, a hallmark of many cancers is genome instability and chromosome loss, processes highly related to inaccurate cell division. Using C. elegans as a model system, her goal is to identify new aspects of cell division control that can be targeted for cancer therapy.

In June, The Pew Charitable Trusts recognized Caldas as 2015 Pew Latin American Fellow in Biomedical Sciences.

Related links on UMassMedNow:

Gina Caldas named 2015 Pew Latin American Fellow