Jun 30, 2010 — Dr. Marina Holz, assistant professor of biology at Stern College for Women, has received an NIH Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) R15 grant for identification and characterization of S6 Kinase 1 (S6K1) targets in mammary cell proliferation. S6K1 is a therapeutic target in breast cancer treatment.

Holz’s research will attempt to provide a comprehensive assessment of the therapeutic potential of the S6K1 signaling pathway by identifying and characterizing downstream effectors of the S6K1 pathway in breast cancer cells.

“Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women,” explained Holz. “Current chemotherapies are indiscriminate, have toxic side effects and, in about half of the patients, do not prevent cancer progression or recurrence. We are hoping to identify new therapeutic targets against which new chemotherapy agents could be developed. These new drugs could be then used in the clinic in combination with other regiments to achieve greater response.”

The AREA grant, supported by funds provided to the National Institutes of Health under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009, supports small research projects in the biomedical and behavioral sciences conducted by faculty and students. The funds provided by this grant—totaling $408,000 over three years—will be used to support student research during the academic year and the summer semester in Holz’s lab.

This summer, Stern College students Faygel Beren, Miriam Steinberger and Tirtza Speigel, as well as research fellow Myriam Maruani ’09S, will work in the Holz lab on this and various other projects.

“This award represents an historic milestone for YU,” said Holz. “Receiving an NIH grant is a rite of passage for most biomedical researchers. I view this as a validation that the research environment at YU is nationally competitive and on par with the best research colleges.”

A resident of Greenwich, CT, Dr. Holz has supervised undergraduate honors projects at Stern since 2007. She received her PhD from Harvard Medical School.