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VICC’s Cha Lands ASTRO Research Grant

July 29, 2011 | Dagny Stuart


Yong Cha, M.D., Ph.D.

Yong Cha, M.D., Ph.D., a Radiation Oncology resident at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, has received a $25,000 grant from the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) to help fund his research on the genetic underpinnings of cancer cells.

The Residents/Fellows in Radiation Oncology Research Seed Grant Award is given to support residents or fellows who are planning a career focused primarily on basic science or clinical research.

“I am quite honored to receive this award from ASTRO at this point in my career,” said Cha, who is a 2008 graduate of Vanderbilt’s Medical Scientist Training Program.

Cha is investigating the role of anti-aging genes known as sirtuins. He says it is a well-recognized scientific observation that genomic instability is the fundamental link that connects aging and cancer, and sirtuins are sometimes involved in that process.

The loss of the Sirt2 gene has been linked to genetic instability and has been implicated in the development of certain types of cancer. Cha’s research will focus on identifying how and why Sirt2 function is necessary for genomic stability in cells and how it prevents the development of cancer.

“The translational angle of this research is to identify a subset of cancer patients who may depend on Sirt2 function for cancer suppression,” explained Cha.

“By understanding how Sirt2 maintains genomic stability, we may be able to identify targets for new chemo-preventive drugs for some cancer patients.”