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Karen Mallet
(media only)

Georgetown MD/PhD Student Awarded International Recognition for Cancer Research

WASHINGTON -- David A. Solomon, who will graduate from Georgetown University School of Medicine this year with M.D. and Ph.D. degrees, has been designated one of four outstanding early-career scientists by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) a highly prestigious honor. Solomon will present his work at a special symposium, Future Leaders in Basic Cancer Research, on April 2nd at the AACR Annual Meeting 2012 in Chicago.

The four honorees were nominated by their institutions and were chosen by AACR through a competitive and stringent review process. They will speak before an audience of potentially thousands of researchers and physicians who attend the meeting from around the world. This year, more than 17,000 are expected to attend the meeting.

The four scientists were chosen for work that “reflects innovation, scientific independence, motivation, and creativity,” according to AACR.

Solomon, who will speak about his search for new cancer genes and new treatments, is the only student and the only American selected. He is also the first person from Georgetown University to receive this award. He has already had numerous research studies published, including one he authored in the journal Science.

Two of the other awardees are postdoctoral researchers who have been doing research fulltime, one from the University of Toronto, and the other from the London Research Institute, of Cancer Research UK. The fourth winner is a clinical fellow at Technische Universität München in Germany.

“These outstanding young investigators are among those who represent the future of basic science in cancer,” said Margaret Foti, Ph.D., chief executive officer of the AACR. “It is a pleasure to see these scientists recognized, as our future accomplishments in the cancer field will depend on the innovation and passion of our talented early-career scientists to conduct excellent research, and discover and develop cutting-edge preventive and treatment strategies against this disease.”

Solomon attended the College of William and Mary, graduating with majors of Chemistry and Molecular Biology. He worked two years as a research assistant at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, studying regulation of cell growth by the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor, before entering the MD/PhD program at Georgetown in 2004. He is in his 8th and final year of the program.

He completed his PhD in 2010 in the Tumor Biology Training Program, in the lab of Todd Waldman, M.D., Ph.D., professor at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, researching ways to target and treat glioblastoma, the most common and aggressive form of brain cancer.

“David’s contributions to the field of molecular biology already have been notable,” says Waldman. “He is passionate about science and fearless in his approach. Add his remarkable intelligence and strong work ethic, and it is easy to see the potential of this young scientist to be a ‘future leader.’”

Solomon’s research has focused on the identification of new cancer genes in human tumor samples and the translation of these findings into new-targeted therapies. His work has led to the identification of CDKN2C and PTPRD as important tumor suppressor genes in glioblastoma multiforme as well as advancement of the small molecule cdk4/6 inhibitor PD-0332991 into a clinical trial in patients with recurrent glioblastoma. He recently discovered recurrent somatic mutations of the STAG2 gene in multiple human tumor types and found that STAG2 inactivation is a genetic cause of aneuploidy in human cancer.

This work includes a first-author paper in the journal Science, five first-author papers in the journal Cancer Research, and several additional co-author publications in journals including Clinical Cancer Research, Oncotarget, and Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Solomon continues to actively pursue his research in addition to working at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital full-time in order to complete his remaining clinical clerkships required to receive his M.D. degree this May. His ongoing research has demonstrated that the STAG2 gene is genetically inactivated by mutation at high frequency in an additional common tumor type and is significantly correlated with lymph node invasion, cancer recurrence after surgical resection, and decreased survival. Solomon says this research is currently being prepared for publication and may result in STAG2 being used as a prognostic biomarker in human tumors in the near future.

In July, Solomon plans to start a two-year residency program in Surgical Pathology followed by a two-year Neuropathology Fellowship at the University of California San Francisco. “I hope to also continue to make strides in cancer research,” he says. “I am very interested in the future of molecular diagnostics for cancer pathology and the prospect of personalized targeted therapeutics based on the genetic profile of individual tumor specimens.”

About Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center
Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of Georgetown University Medical Center and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, seeks to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cancer through innovative basic and clinical research, patient care, community education and outreach, and the training of cancer specialists of the future. Georgetown Lombardi is one of only 40 comprehensive cancer centers in the nation, as designated by the National Cancer Institute, and the only one in the Washington, DC, area. For more information, go to

About Georgetown University Medical Center
Georgetown University Medical Center is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through MedStar Health). GUMC’s mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis -- or "care of the whole person." The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing & Health Studies, both nationally ranked; Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute; and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization (BGRO), which accounts for the majority of externally funded research at GUMC including a Clinical Translation and Science Award from the National Institutes of Health. In fiscal year 2010-11, GUMC accounted for 85 percent of the university’s sponsored research funding.


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