Cancer clinical research scholars move discoveries from lab to patients

Five oncologists at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland will receive a $25,000 salary supplement for one year, allowing them to reserve time to pursue promising research ideas.

Portraits of the five clinical research scholars
From left to right: Uma Borate, M.D., M.S., Michael Heinrich, M.D., Matthew Taylor, M.D., Gina Vaccaro, M.D., and Jacqueline Vuky, M.D.

The Knight Cancer Institute’s Clinical Research Scholar Awards aim to help physician-scientists advance discoveries with the greatest potential to improve cancer therapy, early diagnosis or prevention.

Award winner Uma Borate, M.D., M.S., is an assistant professor of medicine who specializes in taking care of patients with acute leukemias and other aggressive blood cancers. Michael Heinrich, M.D., is a professor of medicine whose research includes both preclinical identification of novel molecular targets and testing of new agents in the laboratory and the clinic, with a focus on chronic myeloid leukemia and gastrointestinal stromal tumors. Assistant Professor of Medicine Matthew Taylor, M.D.specializes in treating patients with melanoma and thyroid cancer.

Associate Professor of Medicine Gina Vaccaro, M.D., focuses on caring for people with digestive system cancers, and she has been particularly active in clinical trials of therapies for esophagogastric cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, colorectal and pancreatic cancer. Jacqueline Vuky, M.D., an associate professor of medicine, specializes in treating patients with solid tumor malignancies, with a focus on genitourinary and breast cancers.

This year’s awards were made possible by philanthropic support from Eric and Janet Parsons and from the Betty Hise Trust for Cancer Research. The purpose is to provide protected research time to cancer clinical investigators to carry out innovative clinical research that advances the mission of the Knight Cancer Institute: to end cancer as we know it. Recipients are entrusted to provide individually-tailored, compassionate care for every patient and to endeavor to discover new ways to prevent cancer or to develop new personalized cancer therapies.

More than 150 cancer clinical trials are active and enrolling subjects at OHSU. You can learn more about the benefits and risks of participating as a cancer patient, and search a database of active studies at the Knight Cancer clinical trials website.