Salk Cancer Center

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Salk Institute for Biological Studies - Salk Cancer Center - Challenge Match

Challenge Match

Challenge Match

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“The BioMed Management team is excited to support a world-class researcher such as Dr. Towers, as she joins the leading scientists at Salk to tackle cancer. Now, more than ever, investments in innovative science are needed to help win the war against deadly diseases.”

Christina TowersThe Salk Institute is excited to welcome Assistant Professor Christina Towers, a top researcher in the field of cancer biology. Towers will join Salk’s renowned NCI-designated Cancer Center to examine how cancer cells recycle both their own nutrients and the power-generating structures called mitochondria in order to survive. Her long-term goal is to improve the treatment options for cancer patients.

“Christina is an innovative cancer researcher who is taking novel approaches to understand the biological basis of cancer,” says Salk President Rusty Gage. “Although she is an early-career scientist, Christina is already an accomplished researcher in her field, and we are thrilled to have her join the Salk faculty.”

Ongoing clinical trials have repeatedly shown that tumor cells can adapt to cancer-fighting medications, which leads to a recurrence of the cancer. Towers is using a combination of gene-editing techniques, light-based genetic manipulation (optogenetics), three-dimensional miniature organs (“organoids”), and detailed imaging to identify the best ways to target the recycling pathways that cancer cells use to adapt and survive. Her results will hopefully lead to new targeted cancer therapies that can improve patient outcomes and survival.

“Christina is a creative dynamo unafraid to ask big biological questions that will lead to new breakthroughs in cancer. Her research fits perfectly with the strengths of the Salk Cancer Center, and we are excited to see her future successes,” says Salk Cancer Center Director Reuben Shaw.

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Towers joins Salk from the University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus, where she was a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Andrew Thorburn. She holds numerous awards including the Outstanding Dissertation Award for her PhD in molecular biology from the University of Colorado, the Pathway to Independence K99/R00 award, the Cancer League of Colorado Pilot Award, the American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship, two NRSA NIH T32 awards, the UNCF/Merck Graduate Science Research Dissertation Fellowship, the NIH R0-1 Diversity Supplement Graduate Fellowship, two UC Department of Pharmacology Excellence in Research Awards, along with many others.