Luis Carvajal-Carmona, a UC Davis professor in the School of Medicine’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine and the Genome Center, was the subject of a recent Grantee Spotlight for his work with the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD), an initiative of the National Cancer Institute designed to reduce the unequal burden that cancer levies on our society. He was awarded an R21 grant to characterize genetic diversity in stomach tumors, and to develop an animal model in order to more easily develop new treatments.
Dr. Abigail Somboyo, a program director at CRCHD, says that ‘this CURE R21 award is providing Dr. Carvajal-Carmona with the critical time and support needed to eventually develop a R01-type award exploring relationships between tumor characteristics and drug responses.’
Carvajal, a graduate of the Nacional Universidad de Colombia and University College London, was also recently named to the Minorities in Cancer Research Council of the American Association for Cancer Research. This council advises AACR on issues of concern to minority investigators, such as:
- Increasing the participation, visibility, and recognition of minorities in cancer research
- Addressing the disparities in cancer incidence and mortality faced by minorities and the medically underserved
- Advocating for relevant scientific and legislative policies
A large part of Carvajal’s research focuses on cancer genetics within the diverse Latin American community. His lab has made important contributions to the study of Hispanic populations in the Americas and used genetic markers, for the first time, to show that Hispanics descend from asymmetric patterns of admixture that mostly involved European men and Native American women. One discovery derived from these markers is that Latina women with more Native American DNA seem to have a lower risk of developing breast cancer. Further analysis of these data could reveal new targets for chemotherapy drugs.
The Carvajal-Carmona lab will continue to recruit and develop underrepresented researchers. The professor offered this insight as to the importance of this endeavour:
We are the future of the country and being “different” gives us unique perspectives on how to solve many important problems in our society. Keep studying and working hard because si se puede [yes we can]!