CHICAGO, IL – Gateway for Cancer Research (Gateway), a non-profit dedicated to funding transformational cancer research, and the Conquer Cancer Foundation of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO) have announced the recipient of the 2019 Young Investigators Award. The Young Investigator Award (YIA) provides funding to promising investigators to encourage and promote quality research in clinical oncology and is a one-year grant totaling $50,000.
This year, Gateway and Conquer Cancer are pleased to present the award to Dr. Maria M. Rubinstein, a medical oncology fellow at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Rubinstein’s research will focus on improving outcomes for patients with gynecological malignancies, especially endometrial cancer. The trial will be a first in human study that will evaluate the safety, tolerability and preliminary efficacy of copanlisib (an FDA approved PI3K inhibitor) in combination with a ketogenic diet (KD). This represents a novel approach to cancer treatment by altering a patient’s diet and metabolism in order to enhance the sensitivity to targeted agents, measuring the effectiveness of the combination of copanlisib and KD on the insulin signaling pathway.
“The Young Investigator Award provides critical funding for young, brilliant doctors, bringing new breakthroughs in cancer treatments to the patients that need them the most,” said Michael Burton, Interim President, Gateway for Cancer Research. “Gateway is proud to recognize Dr. Rubinstein’s dedication to the fight against cancer with this prestigious award. Her passion and commitment to patient-centric research and field are truly awe-inspiring.”
“I chose to research endometrial cancer as it’s the fourth most common cancer in women, with more than 63,000 new cases diagnosed in 2018,” said Dr. Rubinstein. “In recurrent endometrial cancer, treatment options are very limited and with overall poor outcomes. Unfortunately, PI3K inhibitors, as single agents, tested in clinical trials have disappointing response rates and difficult to tolerate side effects. We are looking to change that outlook with this study, which in pre-clinical research has shown promise in helping to stem tumor growth."
Dr. Rubinstein is a graduate of the accelerated BS/MD program at the University of Akron and received her MD degree from Northeast Ohio Medical University in 2013. She completed her internal medicine residency training at Montefiore Medical Center where she was selected as the Chief Resident. Dr. Rubinstein has also worked at the Cleveland Clinic Allogen Laboratories and Jeffrey Segall’s Lab at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Dr. Rubinstein’s previous clinical research pursuits include evaluating the association between race/ethnicity and Oncotype DX Recurrence Score (RS) in patients participating in the TAILORx trial. She presented this work at the 2015 ASCO Annual Meeting and received and ASCO Merit Award. Dr. Rubinstein has presented her other research at the 2016 ASCO GI Symposium and the 2016 AACR Annual Meeting.