Young Investigator Awards

BCAN 2017 Research Awards Press Release

The $50,000, Young Investigator Awards will fund researchers in basic, translational, clinical, epidemiologic, bio-engineering or any other scientific or research field, who are working in a research environment capable of supporting transformational bladder cancer research. These awards are offered to inspire more early career investigators to join the bladder cancer scientific community.

This year, in addition to the Stephen Hale Gushée and JPB Foundation Young Investigator Awards, BCAN is pleased to partner with the GBCI at Johns Hopkins to support up to two additional awards, to be funded by the Johns Hopkins Greenberg Bladder Cancer Institute.  “Engaging early career investigators in bladder cancer research, is essential to continue to bring the best minds and science to improve the lives of our patients,” stated Andrea Maddox-Smith, CEO of BCAN.

Applications are open to researchers and clinicians across the United States and Canada. Given BCAN’s position in the bladder cancer community, as well as our relationship with the key members of the research community, we aim to attract the “best and brightest” to compete for these Young Investigator Awards.

Applications are judged on the quality of the applicant’s research plan and the resources and environment available to the applicant, including the ability of the primary mentor and relevant department to provide appropriate guidance and protected time during the award period.  For all questions, please email

There is a two-step review process to select the Award recipients. A multi-disciplinary Scientific Review Group comprised of bladder cancer experts score the applications based on the merits of the research proposals.  The award review process is based on the same peer review system utilized by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  The final scores for each applicant are then sent to the BCRN Management Committee which accepts the scientific merit scores.  The Management Committee recommends the final award decision for approval by the BCAN Board of Directors.  Only the best research projects are funded.

Applications are due no later than 5:00 PM (EST) on Wednesday, March 1, 2017. Please click this link to access the full Young Investigator Award Application Guidelines.

Click here to apply.


2016 Awardees


Mouw, Kent MD PhD

Kent W. Mouw, M.D.


Niannian Ji

Niannian Ji, Ph.D.

The Stephen Hale Gushée Young Investigator Award will support Kent William Mouw, M.D., Ph.D. of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, for his research “Identifying Genomic Determinants of Chemoradiotherapy Response in Muscle-Invasive Bladder Cancer.” Dr. Mouw’s study will leverage new genomic techniques to better understand how these biomarkers can benefit muscle invasive bladder cancer patients treated with combined modality therapy.

The JPB Foundation Young Investigator Award will further the work of Niannian Ji, Ph.D. of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio for her project on the “Role of antigen-specific immunity in BCG therapy for bladder cancer.” Dr. Ji’s study will provide key mechanistic insights into BCG efficacy in treating bladder cancer and establish a framework for rapid development of BCG combination strategies to combat BCG resistance in bladder cancer patients.

2015 Awardees

Palmbos Head Shot

Phillip Palmbos


Rahul Parikh

BCAN Young Investigator Awardees

Phillip Palmbos, MD,PhD.

Physician-scientist and medical oncologist at the University of Michigan

Project Title: The Role of TP63 and ATDC in Invasive Bladder Cancers

For his project, Dr. Palmbos will investigate if the level of Ataxia-Telangectasia Group D Complementing (ATDC, also known as TRIM29), a novel oncogene that drives cancer cells to become resistant to treatment, in a bladder tumor is a key determinant of tumor propensity to spread and cause death. Dr. Palmbos aims to better characterize the mechanisms which govern ATDC induced invasion and spread in an effort to identify pathways that may be targeted to prevent cancer growth and progression. Hopefully, these insights will allow the design of better treatments and tests to aid patients with the most aggressive forms of bladder cancer.

Rahul Parikh, M.D., Ph.D.

Project Title: The Role of ATM Loss and the ATR-CHK1 Pathway in Bladder Cancer

Dr.Parikh identified a genetic abnormality in about one-third of all bladder cancers that may cause bladder cancer cells to survive radiation treatment and chemotherapy, which should otherwise kill them. His current study will examine the role of this genetic change in the development of resistance to existing radiation and chemotherapies used in treatment of bladder cancer. Adding a targeted inhibitor to this genetic abnormality, along with existing radiation or chemotherapy treatment can kill the cancer cells with the genetic abnormality so the cancer cells don’t kill the patient. Since the genetic abnormality examined in our study occurs in 1/4 of all cancers (regardless of location in the body), understanding the link between the genetic abnormality and resistance to therapy in bladder cancer may enable us to more effectively treat not only bladder cancer patients, but also patients with other cancers.

2014 Awardees

Sunny Guin

Sunny Guin

Saito, Ryoichi cropped

Ryoichi Saito

Zamarin, Dmitriy cropped

Dmitriy Zamarin

BCAN Young Investigator Award

Sunny Guin, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Colorado at Denver

Project Title: The Role, Relationship and Therapeutic Potential of HAS2 and AGL in Bladder Cancer

For his project, Dr. Guin investigate the importance of the HAS2/HA pathway as a driver of aggressive behavior of bladder cancer tumors with low expression of AGL, an enzyme involved in breaking down glycogen. Hyaluronic acid synthase 2 (HAS2) is an enzyme responsible for making hyaluronic acid (HA). He will also determine whether reduced levels of AGL lead to increased risk for bladder cancer tumor formation and more aggressive tumors. This data could provide biomarkers to select patients for treatment that inhibits the HAS2/HA pathway.

JPB Foundation Young Investigator Award

Ryoichi Saito, M.D., Ph.D.

Research Associate, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Project Title: Consequences of ARID1A Inactivation in Bladder Cancer

The award will support Dr. Saito’s research project to better understand the role of ARID1A mutation in bladder cancer. ARID1A, a gene that modifies proteins attached to DNA called histones, has been found to be significantly mutated in previous studies, and its inactivation is a likely driver event in bladder cancer tumor formation. Dr. Saito will also investigate whether ARID1A mutant cells may be sensitive to inhibition of a protein called PI3Kinase.

JPB Foundation Young Investigator Award

Dmitriy Zamarin, M.D., Ph.D.

Hematology/Oncology Fellow, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Project Title: Defining Immunotherapy Targets in Bladder Cancer Microenvironment Using Oncolytic Viruses

The award will support Dr. Zamarin’s research project to examine using an oncolytic virus called Newcastle Disease Virus (NDV) to activate the immune system to recognize cancer cells, and using NDV with other immunotherapies to combat metastatic bladder cancer. Dr. Zamarin will also work on identifying immune resistance mechanisms in bladder cancer and developing new immune therapeutic approaches using NDV.

2013 Awardees

David DeGraff


Gopa Iyer


Debashis Sahoo


BCAN Young Investigator Award

David DeGraff, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Project Title: Transcriptional Control of Bladder Cancer Tumorigenesis

The award will help support Dr. DeGraff’s research project to investigate gene expression of two transcription factors which regulate cell behavior: FOXA1 and AP2 gamma, and their role in bladder cancer risk. Expression of FOXA1 has been found to be significant for prostate and breast cancer patients. He will test the hypothesis that overexpression of AP2 gamma is associated with an increased risk of developing bladder cancer. He will also look at whether a using new inhibitor that targets bladder cancer tumors with high expression of AP2 gamma can make chemotherapy more effective in treating the disease.


James Family Young Investigator Award

Gopa Iyer, MD

Clinical Instructor, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Project Title: Identifying Predictors of Response to mTOR-targeted Therapies in Bladder Cancer

The award will support Dr. Iyer’s research project to examine the role of the Tuberous Sclerosis 1 (TSC1) gene in bladder cancer tumors. This gene, TSC1, was identified as the genetic basis for a metastatic bladder cancer patient’s complete response to treatment with the targeted agent everolimus. Dr. Iyer’s goal is to improve understanding of the genetic alterations in bladder cancer to identify patients who will most likely benefit from targeted therapies in this disease.


Raymond and Maria Floyd Family Young Investigator Award

Debashis Sahoo, PhD

Instructor, Stanford University

Project Title: High resolution molecular analysis of CD47-mediated immune escape in bladder cancer

The award will support Dr. Sahoo’s research project to investigate interactions between the immune system and bladder cancer. He will use molecular analysis to identify variants of CD47, a protein found on the surface of many cells and also overexpressed in many tumor cells, including bladder cancer tumor cells. CD47 can prevent the immune system from targeting cancer tumor cells. A better understanding of these CD47 variants could lead to developing new therapies for treating bladder cancer.

Click here to see previous research awards.

Share this page:Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone