Knight Cancer Institute researcher fights cancer with world-class athletes

OHSU Knight Cancer Institute researcher Amy Moran, Ph.D., is working with USA Track & Field athletes and the American Cancer Society to raise money for the fight against cancer.

The “Together: Nothing Is Impossible” campaign features Moran in a public service announcement with two-time Olympic gold medalist Christian Taylor and 2014 USA Track & Field indoor champion Gabe Grunewald, a cancer survivor. The campaign encourages Americans to pledge money for each medal U.S. athletes win at the world championships this August in London. The American Cancer Society will receive 75 percent of the proceeds for cancer research, and 25 percent will be directed to support USA Track & Field athlete development programs.

In 2014, Moran received a grant from the American Cancer Society to investigate a major player in immunotherapies, the killer T-cell, a type of white blood cell that targets cells compromised by infection or cancer. Tumors, however, often evolve ways to evade targeting by killer T-cells. Moran’s research used genetically engineered mice to explore T-cell interactions with tumors and better understand how to engage the immune system to target cancer.

At the time, Moran was a postdoc working at Providence Portland Medical Center and was uncertain about whether she would stay in academia or not.

“Getting the call from ACS that I was funded was a turning point for me,” said Moran. “I decided that if they were going to take a chance on me, I’d take a chance on an academic research career. I’m so glad I did.”

Moran joined OHSU in April as an assistant professor in the Department of Cell, Developmental and Cancer Biology with a joint appointment in the Department of Medicine’s Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology. Today her research focuses on the immunological underpinnings of prostate cancer. She’s currently collaborating with Julie Graff, M.D., and the Knight Cancer Institute’s prostate cancer team.

“It was an honor to work with these outstanding athletes,” said Moran.
“I’m proud to be part of the incredible team here at OHSU
and this national effort to raise funds for cancer research.”

The campaign will debut during NBC coverage of the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships this weekend (June 23-25) and run through August 14. Learn more at and join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #nothingisimpossible.

Photo: Amy Moran, Ph.D., photographed with USATF two-time Olympic gold medalist Christian Taylor and 2014 USATF indoor champion Gabe Grunewald, a cancer survivor, in Eugene, OR in May at the Prefontaine Classic. Photo provided by Amy Moran.