Congratulations to Pedro Costa-Pinheiro for being the first BIMS student to have received a Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Award (F99/K00) from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
This award supports outstanding Ph.D. and other Research Doctoral candidates to complete their dissertation research training (F99 phase) and transition in a timely manner to mentored, cancer-focused postdoctoral career development research positions (K00 phase). Applicants for this award must be nominated by their institutions and Pedro was nominated by the UVA Cancer Center. This is an NIH award, but there is no citizen requirement for F99 applicants, which allowed Pedro to apply. More information on the NCI Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Award (F99/K00) can be found here.
Pedro is a rising 5th year Pathology student in the lab of Mark Kester, whose appointment is in Pharmacology. He is studying the intersection between hormone receptors and sphingolipid metabolism in prostate cancer. In their lab, they use ceramide nanoliposomes as a novel way to treat cancer. These tiny particles are currently in a phase 1 clinical trial for solid tumors with promising results. While the clinical trials are underway, Pedro works in the lab to determine if prostate cancer patients would benefit from this treatment and if not, why. One thing that they’ve found was that hormone receptors were preventing the drug’s effectiveness, so their interest resides in understanding how this phenomena happens and how to explore already available drugs that block these receptors in combination with the ceramide nanoliposomes.
Pedro feels fortunate to have found Mark Kester as a mentor, who had developed something worthwhile 10+ years before Pedro arrived. This treatment has the potential to help cancer patients in the near future and it fits with Pedro’s intentions of pursuing a more translational-focus PhD project. This lab was a good match for Pedro because of his interest in cancer, helping others and reducing the burden of cancer on families. His plans for the future are somewhat flexible, but he will be doing a postdoc in cancer research.