Greehey CCRI Receives Its First NIH K99 Award
Yu-Chiao Chiu, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher at the Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute (GCCRI), received the prestigious NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00) from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The highly competitive NIH grant is awarded to about 30 outstanding cancer researchers nationwide each year for them to complete mentored training (K99 phase) and transition in a timely manner to independent, tenure-track faculty positions (R00 phase). The award will support approximately $1 million for Dr. Chiu’s research on developing cutting-edge deep learning methods for studying pediatric cancer for up to five years.
Pediatric cancer is the second leading cause of death in children, with more than 10,000 newly diagnosed cases each year in the U.S. However, genetic studies to inform new drug therapies have been challenging. The study, titled “Deep learning of drug sensitivity and genetic dependency of pediatric cancer cells,” will tackle the challenge by the state-of-the-art deep learning technology. In adult cancer, Dr. Chiu and his colleagues have successfully utilized deep learning to extract genomics signatures to predict the treatment response of cancer cells. The proposed study will extend the research to pediatric cancers. Findings will shed light on the optimal drugs and novel therapeutic targets for pediatric malignancies.
The K99 phase of the award will support Dr. Chiu’s research and career development activities in Drs. Peter Houghton and Yidong Chen’s labs at GCCRI. A multi-disciplinary advisory and collaboration team involving four prestigious U.S. institutions has been established to ensure the success of Dr. Chiu’s proposed research and transition to an independent research career.
The successful award application was prepared under the guidance of the Grant Writing with New Investigators (GWNI) group led by Dr. Linda M. McManus, the Director of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. Before the award, Dr. Chiu has received San Antonio Life Sciences Institute (SALSI) Postdoctoral Research Training Fellowship, Ann A. Hollocher Trainee Travel Award, and the Fund for Innovation in Cancer Informatics (ICI) to support his postdoctoral research.