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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center honored the 2010 recipients of the Lineberger Fellows and the Pagano awards that recognize outstanding research and publications by graduate students.

The Joseph S. Pagano Award was established in 2002 to honor outstanding papers by postdoctoral fellows who are first authors of these papers. The 2010 winners, who received a $2,500 prize, are Coy Allen, PhD, John Chappell, PhD, and Greg Rogers, PhD. The award is named in honor of Joseph S. Pagano, MD, director emeritus of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and training grant director.

Kwun Wah Wen, PhD, Christopher Welch, PhD, and Yaxue Zeng are the 2010 UNC Lineberger Fellow Award Winners; each received a $5,000 prize. The Lineberger Fellows competitive award was established in 1988 by the Center’s Board of Visitors to promote and encourage graduate students to pursue cancer research.

Kwun Wah Wen completed his fellowship in the laboratory of Blossom Damania, PhD, associate professor of microbiology and immunology, and is now finishing medical school in the UNC School of Medicine’s MD/PhD program.

Christopher Welch is a fellow in the laboratory of Klaus Hahn, PhD, Ronald Thurman Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology. In a variety of diseases, including cancer, inflammatory diseases, and cardiovascular diseases, the body’s cells move into tissues inappropriately and cause damage, or fail to move when they should to fight disease. Welch’s work has focused on understanding the regulation of Rho GTPases, a specific class of proteins that act as on/off switches in the movement machinery of the cell. Specifically, he has developed new tools to analyze the activity of these proteins in living cells, allowing new insights into the role of these proteins in metastasis and other forms of migration.

Yaxue Zeng is a fellow in the laboratory of Yue Xiong, PhD, Kenan Professor of Biochemistry and leader of the UNC Lineberger Cancer Cell Biology Program. Zeng is conducting research on tumor suppressor genes. Cancer can occur when tumor suppressor genes lose function, permitting the uncontrolled growth of cells, and Zeng is studying how a specific protein called ARF suppresses tumor development.

Pagano Award winners are selected through a competitive process and are honored for their authorship of articles in high-impact journals.

Allen, whose faculty advisor is Jenny Ting, PhD, UNC Alumni Distinguished Professor of Microbiology, and co-leader of UNC Lineberger’s Immunology Program, was first author of an article published in the April 17, 2009 issue of the journal Immunity titled “The NLRP3 inflammasome mediates in vivo innate immunity to influenza A virus through recognition of Viral RNA.”

John Chappell, PhD, whose faculty advisor is Vickie Bautch, PhD, professor of biology, was first author of a September 17, 2009 Developmental Cell article titled “Local Guidance of Emerging Vessel Sprouts Requires Soluble Flt-1.”

Greg Rogers, PhD, was in the laboratory of Steve Rogers, PhD, associate professor of biology. Greg completed his fellowship and is now an assistant professor at the University of Arizona- Tucson. The article for which he was first author was published in the January 26, 2009 issue of the Journal of Cell Biology and titled “The SCFslimb ubiquitin ligase regulates Plk4/Sak levels to block centriole reduplication.”