UCLA scientist honored for advancing the understanding of how metabolism affects cancer

Dr. Heather Christofk to receive 2017 AAAS Martin and Rose Wachtel Cancer Research Award honorable mention
Heather Christofk

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Science Translational Medicine have announced the winners of the prestigious 2017 AAAS Martin and Rose Wachtel Cancer Research Award, recognizing UCLA scientist Dr. Heather Christofk for her pioneering research into how metabolism can regulate and drive cancer.

Christofk is one of only four researchers honored this year by the AAAS. Her essay, entitled “Defining Metabolic Regulation of Cancer Cell Growth,” is recognized with a 2017 Wachtel Cancer Research Award Honorable Mention and a $1,000 cash prize. The AAAS will present the awards to the recipients in a ceremony at the National Institutes of Health later this year.

The AAAS Martin and Rose Wachtel Cancer Research Award is an annual award funded by an endowment established through a generous bequest from Martin L. Wachtel. This award honors early-career investigators who have performed outstanding work in the field of cancer research. Entrants must have received their Ph.D. or M.D. within the last 10 years.Christofk’s research is focused on how metabolism is regulated in normal and cancer cells, and what nutrients are required for tumor growth.  She has discovered key enzymes involved in promoting metabolic alterations in tumor cells, and critical nutrients for tumor growth.  She is now exploring ways to block this altered tumor metabolism as a cancer treatment strategy.

“Research into how altered metabolism can promote cancer growth has greatly improved our understanding of cancer, and with this knowledge we can begin to develop innovative new treatments for patients,” Christofk said. “This award celebrates the scientific advances of not just myself but our research team and UCLA, and I am truly grateful to be recognized by the AAAS.”

An associate professor of biological chemistry and molecular and medical pharmacology at UCLA, Christofk is co-director of the Signal Transduction and Therapeutics Program at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and a member of the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center.  Dr. Christofk is a Searle Scholar and recipient of the Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award, the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, and an American Cancer Society Research Scholar Award.