Graduate Student Wins Prestigious NCI Transition Award

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Cameron Bader, a graduate student at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, has won the National Cancer Institute Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Award (F99/K00). Bader is the first Miller School student to receive this prestigious award, which he won for his dissertation project titled, “The regulation of innate immune sensors to control GVHD and GVL after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.”

Cameron Bader

The NCI fellowships recognize outstanding graduate students with potential and interest in becoming independent cancer researchers. The F99/K00 award offers up to six years of financial assistance to students working on their Ph.D. dissertation and transitioning to postdoctoral work in cancer research.

Bader’s interest in immunology started when he was in high school. “My brother had an autoimmune disease called polymyositis, and he actually had to be in a wheelchair for several years because of that,” he said. “My mom also suffers from a few different autoimmune diseases, so growing up I was really interested in why these diseases came about, and what we could do to try to prevent them.”

After taking microbiology and immunology electives as an undergraduate at the University of California, Irvine, Bader worked in the laboratory of Robert Levy, Ph.D., a researcher at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and professor of microbiology and immunology, in 2014. Upon his acceptance into the graduate program in 2015, Dr. Levy became his research and dissertation mentor.

“Cameron has been doing outstanding research in the graduate program, and I am proud of the work he has done,” Dr. Levy said. “His F99/K00 award is well-deserved and shows his dedication to cancer research.”

Bader’s research focuses on graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), which can develop in some individuals who receive allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplants. He is studying the role of the Stimulator of Interferon Genes (STING) protein in GVHD with the hope of developing novel therapeutic treatments for the disease. Bader is interested in seeing if it is possible to modulate STING to reduce GVHD severity.

Bader is grateful for the support he received from Dr. Levy in applying for the F99/K00 award and plans to complete his dissertation at the Miller School of Medicine.

“I am thankful for my mentor, Dr. Levy, who contributed his part of the F99/K00 application and then helped me craft a very specific training plan for what I will do during the next two years as I finish my dissertation,” he said. “I am also thankful for everyone at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine who helped me during the process of applying for the award.”

Bader will start applying for postdoctoral positions next spring and hopes to continue studying immunology and doing cancer research. He plans to defend his thesis in the spring of 2021.

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