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April 23, 2007

U-M researchers awarded inaugural American Association for Cancer Research Team Science Award

ANN ARBOR, MI – University of Michigan Health System scientist, Arul Chinnaiyan, M.D., Ph.D., and his team have been awarded the inaugural American Association for Cancer Research Team Science Award for their landmark discovery that prostate cancer harbors gene fusions which may be the cause of this highly prevalent disease. 

Arul Chinnaiyan, MDHighlighting the collaborative nature of the American Association for Cancer Research, the inaugural AACR Team Science Award was presented to a team comprised of researchers from the University of Michigan and Harvard University, Brigham and Women's Hospital, at the 2007 AACR annual meeting in Los Angeles. The award recognizes an outstanding interdisciplinary research team for its innovative science in advancing cancer research, detection, diagnosis, prevention or treatment.

Selected for their landmark prostate cancer discovery, the team's research revealed a recurring pattern of scrambled chromosomes and abnormal gene activity that occurs only in prostate cancer. These chromosomal rearrangements induce specific genes to merge, creating what scientists call a gene fusion. The finding has profound clinical and biological implications for understanding prostate cancer and possibly other common solid tumors.

The AACR Team Science Award, established by the AACR and supported by a grant from Eli Lilly and Company, acknowledges the growing importance of interdisciplinary team collaboration to the understanding of cancer and the translation of research discoveries into clinical applications.

As medical advances continue to arise, capitalizing on these new opportunities, as they apply to cancer research, often depends on the participation and contribution of researchers in other specialties including chemistry, physics, engineering, computational science and nanotechnology. The integration of such specialties into cancer research results in the formation of interdisciplinary scientific teams.

Chosen from a pool of nearly 30 applicants, the team will collectively receive a prize of $50,000 and their institutions will be cited for their support of team science and collaboration. Winning team members are:

From the University of Michigan:

  • Arul M. Chinnaiyan, M.D., Ph.D., S.P. Hicks Endowed Professor of Pathology, director, Michigan Center for Translational Pathology, Co-director of Pathology Informatics, Director of Cancer Bioinformatics
  • Scott A. Tomlins, M.D., Ph.D., fellow, molecular and cellular pathology
  • Daniel Rhodes, Ph.D., research Investigator
  • Rohit Mehra, M.D., molecular pathology fellow
  • Rajal Shah, M.D., assistant professor of pathology
  • Sooryanarayana Varamabally, Ph.D., research assistant professor
  • Xuhong Cao, M.S., research technician
  • Saravana Dhanasekaran, Ph.D., research investigator
  • John Wei, M.D., associate professor of urology
  • James Montie, M.D., the Valassis Professor of Urological Oncology and chair of urology
  • Kenneth Pienta, M.D., professor of internal medicine and urology
  • Robin Rasor, director of licensing, Office of Technology Transfer


  • Mark A. Rubin, M.D., associate professor of pathology
  • Charles Lee, Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology
  • Sven Perner, M.D., pathology fellow
  • Francesca Demichelis, Ph.D., computational biologist

The AACR Team Science Award was presented at the 2007 AACR Annual Meeting during the Centennial Ceremony on Sunday, April 16, 2007.

Written by: Steffanie Fineman


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