University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine cancer researcher Jianfu Chen, PhD, has been named a Damon Runyon Fellow and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Fellow. Chen was among 17 new Damon Runyon Fellows selected in 2009.

The recipients of this prestigious, three-year award are outstanding postdoctoral scientists conducting basic and translational cancer research in the laboratories of leading senior investigators across the country. The fellowship is specifically intended to encourage the nation’s most promising young scientists to pursue careers in cancer research by providing them with independent funding ($140,000 each) to work on innovative projects.

With his sponsor, Lee A. Niswander, PhD, division head of pediatric developmental biology in the medical school’s Department of Pediatrics and a member of the school’s Cancer Center, Chen studies molecular mechanisms of gene-folic acid interactions. The goals of Chen’s research are to understand how folic acid interacts with our genome and to determine whether it has a role in cancer prevention.

The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation is a non-profit organization focused on supporting exceptional early career researchers and innovative cancer research. Of the 17 new Runyon Fellows, six, including Chen, will also be named Howard Hughes Medical Institute Fellows in recognition of support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which will fund $1 million in Damon Runyon Fellowships each year.

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