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Brittany Jennings
October 14, 2020

Cathy Anderson, Ph.D. candidate at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy.

Cathy Anderson, a Ph.D. candidate at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, has been awarded the NCI Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Award.

The National Cancer Institute award will provide funding for the remainder of Anderson’s graduate studies and up to four years of post-doctoral training. Anderson works in the lab of Robert McGinty, MD, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Division of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy with a joint appointment in the UNC Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics.

“I feel very grateful to receive this fellowship, and to have been nominated by UNC last year as the University’s candidate to apply for the award,” Anderson said. “I would not be in this position if it were not for the amazing research environment and mentors I have had at UNC, which have helped me throughout my graduate studies.”

Anderson’s work focuses on unraveling the molecular details of epigenetic regulation by visualizing interactions between proteins in the nucleus that tune gene expression. Anderson said these proteins are often misregulated in cancers and can lead to tumor growth. Researchers are better able to identify new strategies for cancer drug development by discovering the structural details of how these proteins function. Anderson is now using molecular details from her previous research to explore the function of Dot1L, a protein and potential therapeutic target for leukemia.

“This unique transitional fellowship award is an incredible achievement. It reflects Cathy’s contributions to biomedical research through her pioneering cryo-electron microscopy studies and her potential to become a world leading independent cancer researcher,” McGinty said.

Anderson joined the McGinty lab following the completion of her bachelor’s degree in chemistry at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is currently a member of the Molecular and Cellular Biophysics training program. For the graduate phase of the fellowship, Anderson will be co-mentored by McGinty and Greg Wang, Ph.D., associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics.

As for her future, Anderson said she hopes to pursue a career as an independent researcher and one day establish her own research lab.

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