UW News

April 15, 2010

Genome scientist Dr. Jay Shendure receives Prostate Cancer Foundation Young Investigator Award

UW Health Sciences/UW Medicine

The Prostate Cancer Foundation announced April 13 that Dr. Jay Shendure, UW Medicine assistant professor of genome sciences, is one of 21 research scientists in the United States and Canada to receive a 2010 Young Investigator Award. The award provides innovative scientists with three years of funding to pursue transformational research questions that may help men affected by prostate cancer.

The 2010 Young Investigator Awards represent a new $4.5 million investment in the global cancer research community by the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

“We are investing in the careers of the world’s ‘best of the best’ in computer science, molecular biology, pharmacology, radiation oncology, medical oncology, and endocrinology to answer the challenges of discovering better treatments and cures for prostate cancer,” said Dr. Howard R. Soule, executive president and chief science officer of the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

Shendure, 35, received The Lowell Milken Prostate Cancer Foundation Young Investigator Award, named for the chair and co-founder of The Milken Family Foundation, a private philanthropy for education and medical research.

Shendure and his research group are working to eliminate technological obstacles to understanding the genetic events that cause the start and spread of prostate cancer. The Shendure lab has developed new biotechnology to efficiently identify disease-relevant variations in human genomes. These approaches overcome many previous technical hurdles, with results published in Nature, Science, and other prominent scientific journals.

Shendure is intent on designing more rapid, less expensive next-generation DNA-sequencing technologies for prostate cancer research. He hopes to provide pathologists and oncologists with enhanced resolution of genetic variation in regions of the genome that code for proteins, as well as for structural variation. This project has the potential to quicken the pace of identifying genes and molecular pathways for prostate cancer initiation, progression, and spread to other parts of the body.

Shendure is a 1996 graduate of Princeton University. He earned a Ph.D. degree in genetics in 2005 from Harvard University and an M.D. degree from Harvard Medical School in 2007. That same year he joined the faculty at the UW School of Medicine in the Department of Genome Sciences. As an M.D. /Ph.D. student in the Harvard lab of Dr. George Church, Shendure, along with his several mentors and fellow students, made major technological breakthroughs in DNA sequencing

“The research mentors for the Young Investigators are as expert, accomplished, and committed as we have ever seen,” said Dr. Jonathan W. Simons, president and CEO of the Prostate Cancer Foundation. “We look forward to seeing the contributions these young scientists will make in our field.”

The Prostate Cancer Foundation is the world’s largest philanthropic source of support for accelerating some of the world’s most promising research in prostate cancer. The foundation’s primary goal is to discover better treatments and cures for recurrent prostate cancer. The foundation pursues its mission by reaching out to individuals, corporations, and other agencies to harness financial and human resources to fight prostate cancer.

Founded in 1993, the Prostate Cancer Foundation has raised almost $400 million and funded more than 1,500 researchers at nearly 200 institutions worldwide. The Foundation also funds the Prostate Clinical Trials Consortium in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense. The UW and Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center are part of this consortium The consortium enrolls patients in clinical trials for new therapies for prostate cancer. The foundation also advocates for governmental support for basic, translational and clinical cancer research.

Prostate Cancer Statistics: The National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health estimates that 192,280 new cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed in the United States in 2009. That same year 27,360 men died of the disease. The cancer originates in a male reproductive system gland located below the bladder. Its most dangerous form can sometimes spread to bones or to other organs. According to the National Cancer Institute, the disease is most common among black men and rare in men under age 45.