The Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute announced Wednesday that a longtime cancer researcher has received a seven-year, $7.9 million award from the National Cancer Institute.

Ze’ev Ronai

Ze’ev Ronai, scientific director of the SBP’s La Jolla campus, earned the NCI’s Outstanding Investigator Award for cancer research with breakthrough potential.

According to Sanford Burnham, Ronai’s recent research has identified new drug targets that could improve the outcome of patients with drug-resistant melanoma tumors.

“We will continue investigating how tumors become re-wired to withstand harsh conditions, such as low oxygen, starvation, and chemotherapy,” said Ronai, who is also a professor of SBP’s NCI-designated Cancer Center. “Understanding these mechanisms is likely to establish new paradigms and offer novel therapeutic modalities for cancer.”

Ronai, a member of several NCI panels and current co-leader of the Scientific Advisory Committee for the Melanoma Research Foundation, has made many key contributions to the understanding of cancer over the last 35 years.

Early in his career, he and his team developed a way of allowing detection of cancer-driving mutations at very low frequency, providing the initial grounds for precision medicine.

Ronai’s research aims to understand changes that control key cellular processes, such as protein translation and responses to stress, that account for tumors’ aggressive characteristics. In particular, his work will focus on mechanisms that govern tumors’ ability to acquire resistance to therapy or their propensity to metastasize.

— City News Service

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