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Headshot of Yuliya Pylayeva-Gupta
UNC Lineberger’s Yuliya Pylayeva-Gupta, PhD.

UNC Lineberger’s Yuliya Pylayeva-Gupta, PhD, is one of seven recipients of The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research Emerging Leader Award, which provides a total of $750,000 in grant support over three years to fund innovative, high-risk/high-reward projects that have significant potential to improve outcomes for cancer patients.

Pylayeva-Gupta will use the funding to support her research focused on reprogramming B cell fate and function in cancer. Specifically, her team will map the factors that drive suppression of B cell responses in solid malignancies and test novel strategies to reprogram B cells and reverse tumor associated dysfunction. Exploring how to harness B cell activity against tumors may yield uncharted advancements in cancer immunotherapy.

“I am grateful for the generous funding provided by the Mark Foundation, which will enable me to advance pivotal work to understand how B cell responses can be generated and reprogrammed to improve anti-tumor immunity,” said Pylayeva-Gupta, who is an associate professor of genetics at the UNC School of Medicine.

Her lab has been investigating mechanisms by which tumors co-opt the immune system to facilitate emergence and progression of cancer. Pylayeva-Gupta has particular interest in the biology of pancreatic cancer, where non-cell-autonomous pathways elicited by oncogenic Kras and tumor suppressor p53 can modify stromal and immune responses that promote tumorigenesis.

The 2022 Mark Foundation Emerging Leaders are pursuing important studies in areas of basic, translational, and clinical cancer research, ranging from work shedding light on fundamental questions of cancer development and progression, to projects that tackle the latest challenges arising in the fields of cancer immunology and immunotherapy.

“This is the fourth year The Mark Foundation is encouraging the next generation of oncology superstars through our Emerging Leader Awards,” said Ryan Schoenfeld, PhD, chief scientific officer, Interim CEO, The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research. “These grants will enable researchers who are still in the early stage of their careers to pursue innovative projects that might never launch without our support. Our relationship with these scientists will continue for many years, and we look forward to the results of their research as well as their emergence as leaders in the field.”

Since 2017, The Mark Foundation has awarded more than $140 million in grants to enable innovative basic, translational, and clinical cancer research, including drug discovery. The Mark Foundation also has a robust and growing portfolio of investments in oncology companies developing novel therapeutics and diagnostics. Through its research and venture arms, The Mark Foundation supports projects throughout their life cycle to ensure their highest chance of success in impacting the lives of patients with breakthroughs in cancer care.