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Pioneering ICR scientist wins prestigious translational cancer research award

Headshot of Dr George Poulogiannis

Image: Dr George Poulogiannis, Team Leader, awarded the British Association of Cancer Research–AstraZeneca Young Scientist Frank Rose Award.

Dr George Poulogiannis, leader of the Signalling and Cancer Metabolism Team at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, has received the 2022 British Association of Cancer Research–AstraZeneca Young Scientist Frank Rose Award for his research into the role of metabolism and nutrition in cancer development and therapy response.

The award, given to individuals whose work has made significant contributions to translational cancer research, was presented to Dr Poulogiannis at the 60th Anniversary Meeting of the British Association of Cancer Research (BACR) in Nottingham last week.

Targeting cancer’s ability to process fat with drugs

Dr Poulogiannis, who joined the ICR in 2014, studies the signalling and metabolic networks related to cell growth and tumour formation. His team uses cutting-edge technology and innovative mapping tools to measure metabolic signals and identify key metabolic biomarkers that affect treatment response in breast cancer.

In their landmark study published in Cell previously, the team pioneered a technique to predict clinically relevant features based on the tumour’s metabolic fingerprint. Using the ‘iKnife’ technology to measure real time differences in tumour metabolism, they were able to reveal how PIK3CA mutations – a common genetic alteration in breast cancer – activate fat metabolism in cells to drive tumour growth and escape immune response.

Notably, the scientists showed that targeting the ability of cancer cells to process fat using a new class of drugs could inhibit tumour growth in mice, but only when combined with a fat-restricted diet. Their ground-breaking research highlighted the importance of nutrition in treatment response.

Both personal and team recognition

On receiving the prestigious award, Dr Poulogiannis said:

“I’m truly honoured to receive this award which marks the achievement of a lot of brilliant scientists I have been fortunate to work with, including past and current members of my laboratory, as well as many great collaborators and mentors, to whom I owe an immeasurable debt.

“I take great joy in doing what I do and I feel an enormous amount of gratitude for being able to do research that could be beneficial for cancer patients. By studying cancer metabolism in detail, we hope to make more fundamental discoveries that will improve our understanding of the disease and ultimately transform the way we choose tailored therapeutics for patients.”

Professor Jon Pines, Head of the Division of Cancer Biology at the ICR, said:

“We are very proud of George and his team. This significant award recognises the exciting and innovative research being pursued by George and his lab. Their important findings uncovering a causal link between fat signalling, metabolism and tumour behaviour, highlight the potential importance of diet in therapy, and open up new ways to identify vulnerabilities in cancer cells that will help us to treat cancer more effectively.”

Dr Poulogiannis is a member of the Cancer Grand Challenges Rosetta team, which is trying to map all the metabolites produced by cellular processes in tumours in order to identify new targets for drug development, as well as understand how they grow, survive and become resistant to treatment.

He also recently received a Future Leaders Fellowship from UK Research and Innovation to fund a multi-disciplinary project mapping out the metabolism of breast cancer tumours. The goal of this project is to be able to use the cancer's metabolic signatures to predict and enhance the response of targeted anti-cancer therapies.


breast cancer award george Poulogiannis iKnife diet cancer metabolism
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