Inside Salk; Salk Insitute
Home > News & Press > InsideSalk > 12|15 Issue > Geoffrey Wahl named recipient of National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator Award

Geoffrey Wahl named recipient of National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator Award

Geoffrey Wahl

Professor Geoffrey Wahl has been named a recipient of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Outstanding Investigator Award (OIA), which encourages cancer research with breakthrough potential. Wahl, a professor in Salk's Gene Expression Laboratory, will receive $7.9 million over seven years to further his research. NCI anticipates funding approximately 60 OIAs from the first round of applications submitted in 2015.

Wahl is a past president and elected Fellow of the American Association for Cancer Research, as well as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has been involved in various aspects of cancer research for his entire 40-year career.

Currently, Wahl, who holds the Daniel and Martina Lewis Chair, is developing innovative strategies to chart the molecular and genetic underpinnings of breast and other cancers in his effort to discover novel treatments for these complex diseases. With support from the award he will be able to create new models of basal-like breast cancer (BLBC), a cancer notorious for resisting chemotherapy and for which no targeted therapies currently exist. He will use a suite of cutting-edge tools and techniques—including the latest in gene editing, single cell genomic analysis and bioinformatics—to explore unknown targets of this cancer and reveal more about how common cancer mutations (such as p53 and BRCA1) contribute to BLBC.

Wahl's lab will also examine how environmental stressors, like inflammation, or conditions such as obesity, tie into the disease. His goal is to move the field closer to a new understanding of how cancers initiate and progress, and to develop more effective treatment strategies. This award will give him the long-term support that is required to embark upon projects of unusual potential in cancer research.

"The NCI Outstanding Investigator Award addresses a problem that many cancer researchers experience: finding a balance between focusing on their science while ensuring that they will have funds to continue their research in the future," says Dinah Singer, director of NCI's Division of Cancer Biology. "With seven years of uninterrupted funding, NCI is providing investigators the opportunity to fully develop exceptional and ambitious cancer research programs."