Arizona Cancer Center researcher receives prestigious Benjamin Castleman Award from United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology

Arizona Cancer Center researcher receives prestigious Benjamin Castleman Award from United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology

Jiaqi Shi, MD, PhD, a research assistant professor of surgery and pathology resident at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and an Arizona Cancer Center member, has received the 2011 Benjamin Castleman Award for a scientific paper published in the International Journal of Cancer.

Dr. Shi is a member of the Cancer Center’s Gastrointestinal Cancer research program and focuses on translational regulation and signaling pathways in pancreatic cancer and identification of new biomarkers and targets for diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer.

“My laboratory has been interested in exploration of novel biomarkers for early diagnosis and prognosis and new molecular targets for the treatment of pancreatic cancer,” Dr. Shi says. Her study of the role of heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP) K – an essential nucleic acid binding protein that has multiple important biological functions in human cells – was published in the International Journal of Cancer in January 2010.

Dr. Shi’s study has found an increase in hnRNP K in people with pancreatic cancer. An accumulation of that protein can lead to silenced protein synthesis of tumor suppressor genes – genes that protect a cell from turning into cancer – and contribute to pancreatic cancer development.

“These data unveiled an important new molecular mechanism contributing to pancreatic cancer development, and identified hnRNP K as a potential new predictive, diagnostic and prognostic marker, and a therapeutic target for pancreatic cancer,” Dr. Shi says.

The Benjamin Castleman Award is granted for an outstanding paper in the field of human pathology related to human disease published in English to a researcher under age 40. The award is sponsored by Massachusetts General Hospital and the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology, at whose annual meeting in San Antonio. Dr. Shi was honored on March 1. The award has been given annually since 1981.