HSCI researchers win American Cancer Society awards

February 26, 2019

Ya-Chieh Hsu and Carla Kim
Ya-Chieh Hsu (left) and Carla Kim (right).


Two Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) scientists have been awarded grants by the American Cancer Society, the largest non-profit and non-governmental funding source of cancer research in the U.S. The awards recognize Ya-Chieh Hsu, Ph.D. and Carla Kim, Ph.D. for their innovative, high-risk/high-reward research that has the potential to impact patients.

Hsu is the Alvin and Esta Star Associate Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology and a principal faculty member of HSCI. She is studying the toxic side effects of chemotherapy, specifically hair loss, slower wound healing, and loss of sensation. These side effects occur because chemotherapy drugs target rapidly dividing cells, primarily cancer cells — but there is also a type of rapidly dividing cell in the skin that plays a role in generating hair, healing wounds, and maintain nerves. Hsu is studying these skin cells to better understand how chemotoxicity occurs and how to alleviate it.

Kim is a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, as well as a member of the HSCI Executive Committee. Her research focuses on lung cancer, taking a precision medicine approach to target patient-specific genetic mutations. Kim is studying a particular gene that is mutated in up to 20% of non-small cell lung cancers, using patient-derived models to develop a targeted therapy.