Hollings Cancer Center announces five Fellowship Program awards

April 30, 2019
Research vials

Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina awarded five researchers funding as part of its Fellowship Program.

Graduate Fellows

The Graduate Fellowship Program is an internal funding mechanism that provides support for the development of highly promising and accomplished graduates with the potential to become independent cancer research scientists. The cancer center provides this opportunity for the most promising students to become more immersed in cancer research.

Ashley Howell

Mentor: Kristin Wallace, Ph.D.

Ashley Howell 
Ashley Howell

Project: Investigation into factors that may affect response to immune checkpoint inhibitors in elderly patients with melanoma

Changes to the composition and function of the immune system that occur naturally with age may affect an elderly patient's response to cancer immunotherapy. This research will utilize national data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program cancer registry and the Medicare program to investigate the use of immune checkpoint inhibitors in elderly patients with advanced melanoma. Specifically, researchers will evaluate the impact of age and comorbidity burden on overall survival in older melanoma patients treated with checkpoint blockade therapy and determine whether the risk of experiencing immune-related adverse events increases with age.


Hannah Knochelmann

Mentor: Chrystal Paulos, Ph.D.

Hannah Knochelman 
Hannah Knochelmann

Project: Mechanisms of enhanced anti-tumor efficacy of four-day expanded Th17 cells for adoptive transfer

Generating personalized T-cell products for cancer immunotherapy can take several months and is extremely expensive, which limits the availability of this therapy and excludes many patients with aggressive malignancies. Having recently developed a method to generate therapeutic T cells in only four days, the researchers seek to understand their improved antitumor properties. These studies implicate new approaches to streamline T-cell production, making this therapy more affordable and available worldwide.


Connor West

Mentor: Richard Drake, Ph.D.

Conner West 
Connor West

Project: Determination of N-linked glycosylation changes in hepatocellular carcinoma and the associated glycoproteins for enhanced biomarker discovery and therapeutic targets

This lab focuses primarily on sugar modifications to proteins known as glycans and how these glycans change with disease states. West’s research focuses on liver cancer, specifically hepatocellular carcinoma, and how these sugar structures change during disease progression. Previously, they have found that specific glycan changes occur more frequently and abundantly in cancerous tissue. From this, researchers hope to use these glycan structure changes and the proteins they are attached to as potential biomarkers for earlier detection of liver cancer, therefore improving survival rates and treatment options.

Postdoc Fellows

At a more advanced level, the Postdoctoral and Clinical Fellowship Program supports promising fellows who are focused on finding ways to prevent and cure cancer. The purpose of the program is to stimulate the recruitment and training of high quality, innovative basic science and clinical/translational cancer researchers.


Jung-Hyun Cho

Mentor: Je-Hyun Yoon, Ph.D.

Jung-Hyun Cho

Project: LncRNA Regulation of Glycolysis in Breast Cancer

This research investigates the therapeutic strategy for malignant breast cancer by revealing the pivotal roles of long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) NEAT1 in glucose metabolism and cancer development. The aberrant metabolic program strongly associated with breast cancer correlates with enhanced tumorigenesis, relapse and resistance to treatment by targeting lncRNAs. This project will provide a new therapeutic approach and help overcome resistance to treatment of malignant breast cancer.


Catherine MarElia

Mentor: Michael Ostrowsk, Ph.D.

marelia, catherine 
Catherine MarElia

Project: Investigating the role of stromal IL-6 in the immune evasion and progression of pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the most lethal and recalcitrant cancer types. This is in part due to the development of a dense stroma and a significant degree of immunosuppression. This research will determine how expression of the pleotropic cytokine IL-6 by fibroblasts, specifically within the stroma, contributes to the progression and immune cell population of PDAC tumors.