Dr. Carlos Almeida Ramos, an assistant professor of medicine – hematology and oncology in the Dan L Duncan Cancer Center at Baylor College of Medicine, will be presented with a career development award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology at the organization's annual meeting June 4 -8 in Chicago.

Ramos will be one of 14 physicians to receive the award, which helps new physicians (within their first to third year of a full-time faculty appointment) establish an independent clinical cancer research program. He will receive a total of $200,000 over three years.

B lymphoma

With the award, Ramos will conduct research that combines the ability of an antibody to recognize tumors with the long life and active immunity produced by cellular components called T lymphocytes.

These T lymphocytes can kill diseased cells, including tumor cells, and can be engineered to permanently express on their surface a modified antibody protein that can recognize malignant tumors.

For this study, Ramos' group adapted an antibody that recognizes a protein on the surface of lymphoma cells called CD19. This modified antibody forms a structure called a Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR).

When the CAR sees the cancer, it binds to it and triggers the attached T lymphocyte to kill the tumor cell. These modified T cells, called CAR-T cells, recognize and kill tumor cells in the laboratory.

CAR-T cells

Ramos and his collaborators want to know if CAR-T cells may be an effective treatment for patients with lymphoma or other cancers.

"Results from this combined approach to producing highly active immunity against cancer will guide future applications of CAR-T cells in patients with lymphoma," said Ramos. "We also hope they will provide a more general strategy for their use in patients with other cancers."

The American Society of Clinical Oncology awarded these grants through The ASCO Cancer Foundation.

At the meeting, a total of $7.1 million dollars was awarded to 289 researchers for awards, including, in addition to the career development awards, awards for comparative effectiveness research, advanced clinical research, international fellowship, oncology trainee, supporting organizations, young investigators and merit awards.

"The ASCO Cancer Foundation grants and awards provide vital research funding and career developing support. They reflect the foundation's commitment to supporting both clinicians and cutting-edge research in the practice of oncology," said Dr. Martin J. Murphy Jr., chair of The ASCO Cancer Foundation's Board of Directors. "Through these funds, the foundation supports oncologists dedicated to improving the care and treatment of people living with cancer."