Odyssey Program Provides Support to Young Cancer Researchers

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The mission of M. D. Anderson's Odyssey Program is to support the best among the newest generation of cancer researchers here and encourage them to explore novel areas of clinical, translational, basic or population-based cancer research. To fulfill this mission, the Odyssey Program supports them and their research during their post-doctoral training, a critical career phase during which scientists first develop independence and a funding track record.

Odyssey Fellowships are given annually, with a start date of Sept. 1, following an open call for applicants and a rigorous peer-review process. This round we had 41 applications from 26 departments and were able to support three new fellows, about 7%, making the Odyssey Program's competition one of the toughest. You can compare this to the National Institutes of Health payline, which even in the toughest times has stayed above 10%.

The three awardees who will join the Odyssey Program in 2009 are:

• Dr. Calley Hirsch from Dr. Sharon Dent's lab (Department of Genetics): "The Role of Gcn5 in Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells"

• Dr. Marites Melancon from Dr. Jason Stafford's lab (Department of Imaging Physics): "Targeted Nanoshell-Based Agents for MRI-Guided Thermal Ablation of Head and Neck Cancer"

• Dr. Sofie Claerhout from Dr. Gordon Mills' lab (Department of Systems Biology): "Tumor Dormancy and Autophagy -- Implications for Breast Cancer"

I want to thank the Odyssey Program Advisory Committee for their hard work in scoring these applications.

The Odyssey Program is supported by  endowments from the Theodore N. Law Award For Scientific Achievement, Houston Endowment, Inc. Award for Scientific Achievement, H-E-B Award for Scientific Achievement, Kimberly-Clark Foundation Award for Scientific Achievement, Cockrell Foundation Award for Scientific Achievement, The Kimberly Clark Fund for New and Innovative Research. Recently the program has received generous support from the CFP Foundation and the Arnold Family Foundation.

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