Renowned UCLA scientist to receive prestigious honor for advancing our understanding of how to combat the complexity of cancer

Thomas Graeber

Dr. Thomas Graeber, a professor of molecular and medical pharmacology and director of the UCLA Metabolomics Center, has received the American Cancer Society’s Giants of Science Passion Award for his outstanding contributions to study of the mechanisms that make cancer cells sensitive or resistant to therapies. The recognition is bestowed annually on a scientist who has shown continued dedication to research and is a leading figure in their specific field.

Giants of Science honors current research grant recipients whose work has been selected by a national committee for commendation. Graeber will accept his honor at the 2017 Giants of Science gala on Saturday, October 14 in Los Angeles, California.

“I am very grateful to receive this extraordinary recognition,” said Graeber. “For me, the Passion Award celebrates the tremendous progress we have made in understanding the complex ways that cancer cells function and develop, and how this knowledge provides the foundation for scientists and physicians to advance treatments for people with this disease.”

Graeber is widely renowned for his work in developing genome-scale approaches for studying the complexity of mis-wired cancer cells. The discoveries in his lab are then closely linked to current medical questions through collaborations with clinical scientists, in the hopes to facilitate the development of new and innovative treatments for many cancers.

Through an American Cancer Society research scholar grant, Graeber’s team is measuring thousands of concurrent events within cancer cells. After quantitatively measuring the activity of proteins involved in mediating the signals and metabolism that cause cancer cells to grow uncontrollably, his lab will analyze this massive amount of data to identify patterns within the chaos of cancer signaling.

Algorithms develped by Graeber are designed to detect trends shared between large data sets, and have been adopted by others in a wide range of disease research areas. In his lab, these approaches are being applied towards the study of cellular changes that make leukemias and melanomas resistant to targeted therapies. His team strives to learn how to block the routes that some cancers take to escape otherwise promising therapeutic approaches, Graeber said.

The American Cancer Society is the nation’s largest not-for-profit investor in cancer research, second only to the federal government. Since 1946, it has funded more than $4.3 billion in cancer research, including the early work of 47 Nobel Prize-winning scientists. In California, the Society currently funds 95 grants totaling almost $48 million, including almost $21 million at five Los Angeles County institutions.