Predoctoral student awarded DOD grant to study deadly brain cancer

Predoctoral student Danielle Morrow

Danielle Morrow, a predoctoral student in the laboratory of scientist David Nathanson, received the Department of Defense Horizon Award that will help support her research to further investigate a potential new treatment for glioblastoma, the most lethal form of brain cancer.

The prestigious recognition comes with a $150,000 award that was created to help support junior-level scientists develop impactful cancer research. The award also highlights just how crucial Morrow’s research is. Despite aggressive treatments for people with glioblastoma, the median survival time is only 12 to 18 months following diagnosis.  

Currently, molecular alterations underlying aberrant lipid metabolism in glioblastoma and their consequences on tumor cell biology are not well understood. Morrow hopes to help change that.

Under the mentorship of Nathanson, PhD, associate professor of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology who is also a member of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, Morrow is exploring how lipid metabolism is altered in glioblastoma — a highly molecularly heterogeneous tumor — and how understanding novel metabolic vulnerabilities may help lead to new therapeutic options for patients with the deadly brain tumor.

“One of the greatest challenges in identifying effective therapeutic targets for glioblastoma involves the inherent molecular heterogeneity found between patient tumors,” Morrow said. “By integrating lipidomic, transcriptomic and genomic datasets for over 100 patient samples, we aim to capture this diversity and identify novel therapeutic targets of tumor metabolism.”