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Predoctoral Melanoma Researcher Receives 2016 Monica H.M. Shander Memorial Fellowship Award
Ben Leach
Amanpreet Kaur

Amanpreet Kaur, a trainee in the lab of Ashani Weeraratna, Ph.D., has been chosen by The Wistar Institute’s Training Committee as the recipient of the 2016 Monica H.M. Shander Memorial Fellowship Award. Kaur was recognized for her ongoing work characterizing the role certain protein receptors play in disease progression and therapy resistance among elderly patients with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

The award was established in 1981 by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Shander in memory of their daughter, Monica, a predoctoral student who earned her Ph.D. while working at Wistar. The award is given annually to an outstanding Wistar predoctoral trainee “who displays notable excellence in scholastics and aptitude and diligence in the laboratory.” The award describes Kaur to a tee, and caps off a year of distinctions for the brilliant young scientist.

Kaur recently received the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Award, aka F99 award, which she will use to jumpstart her postdoctoral training by expanding her focus on two aspects of cancer: the role of epigenetics (the study of changes in organisms caused by modifications in gene expression) and the function of the tumor microenvironment.

Kaur was also first author on a study published earlier this year in the journal Nature that explored the role of the tumor microenvironment in melanoma. The researchers found that tumor cells in aged skin behave differently than those in younger skin. While multiple factors may contribute to the age-related increase in cancer occurrence, the Weeraratna Lab explored age-related changes that occur in the microenvironment of tumor cells.

“I feel honored to be the recipient for this year’s award,” Kaur said. “This is a highly reputable award to receive for the work that I have done for the past four years at Wistar, and getting this award was one of my dreams while at Wistar.”