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May 14, 2020

Vitor Mori, a postdoctoral student in the University of Vermont’s Vermont Lung Center and the UVM Cancer Center, has been awarded a Quantitative Biology Fellowship by the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation.

Mori was awarded the fellowship for research he is doing that allows chemotherapy to be delivered directly to lung tumors, in contrast to the conventional approach that delivers drugs systemically, which affects the whole body.

The foundation awarded a total of nine Quantitative Biology Fellowships, the first year the fellowship has been conferred. The awardees were selected by a distinguished committee of leaders in the field.

The fellowship program, and the financial support it provides, are designed to create an elite cadre of computational biology leaders with expertise and understanding in both quantitative and biological sciences—scientists who are capable of traversing both worlds.

Criteria for the award focused on both the quality of the applicant (their commitment to pursuing a research career as a computational biologist and potential to excel in cancer research and the quality of the mentorship the applicant receives (the training experience that will accelerate the development of the applicant’s scientific skills and prepare them to independently conduct high quality, innovative cancer-related research).

Mori’s mentors are Jason Bates, a professor with appointments in both the departments of Medicine in the Larner College of Medicine and Electrical and Biomedical Engineering in the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, and C. Matthew Kinsey, an assistant professor assistant professor of medicine at the Larner College of Medicine and a and a pulmonologist at University of Vermont Medical Center.

Biologists are increasingly required to not only work at the lab bench, but also to mine vast amounts of data to find the valuable clues that will address key challenges in cancer research and patient treatment. To proactively address this need, Damon Runyon has created a new funding mechanism designed to encourage quantitative scientists (trained in fields such as mathematics, physics, computer science, engineering, and others) to pursue research careers in computational biology.

The Damon Runyon Quantitative Biology Fellowship Award is designed to support a new generation of computational scientists who will pioneer novel approaches to the design and interpretation of experiments in cancer research, to answer a myriad of important biological and clinical questions.

Damon Runyon will invest in up to 15 fellowships over three years, totaling up to $3.6 million. 

According to its annual report, the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation funds “high-risk, high-reward cancer research. We identify and enable young scientists who are brilliant, brave and bold enough to go where others haven’t.”

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