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2018 Lasker Clinical Research Scholars


Catherine Ann Cukras, National Eye Institute




Cukras conducts clinical research in retinal degenerative diseases. The retina is uniquely positioned for advancement in therapeutic intervention for disease. Cukras uses multidisciplinary approaches to understand the patterns of photoreceptor dysfunction and degeneration and to design and implement interventional clinical trials.



John P Dekker, National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases




Dekker studies the evolution of bacterial pathogens, host-pathogen interactions, and mechanisms of antibiotic resistance in these organisms. His laboratory uses a variety of computational biology approaches, including genomic sequencing, transcriptional profiling, proteomic studies with mass spectrometry, and in vitro adaptive-evolution experiments.



Christopher G Kanakry, National Cancer Institute




Kanakry conducts clinical research related to allogeneic hematopoietic-cell transplantation. In particular, he is working toward developing and better understanding the use of post-transplantation cyclophosphamide (medication used to modulate the immune system) to prevent graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). His goal is to improve transplantation outcomes for patients.



Jonathan J Lyons, National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases




Lyons uses human immunogenetics to identify how alterations in signaling, protein expression, and metabolism can affect anaphylaxis and myeloproliferative disease. His research helps gain a better understanding of the immunopathogenesis of allergic reactions. Lyons explores novel interventional approaches for the treatment and prevention of severe allergic reactivity and anaphylaxis in people.



Sonja W Scholz, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke



Scholz's research takes full advantage of the rapid advancements in genomic technologies together with marked progress in computational capabilities to gain insights into the molecular defects underlying neurologic diseases. Her team studies the genetic causes of complex neurodegenerative diseases, including Lewy body dementia, multiple-system atrophy, and related Parkinsonism syndromes. The aim is to use genetic information not just for advancing our understanding of these conditions but also to improve diagnostic accuracy and targeted treatments by incorporating genetic knowledge into routine clinical assessments.


H Nida Sen, National Eye Institute




Sen's research is aimed at developing outcomes measures, biomarkers, and targeted therapies for the treatment of uveitis, an immune-mediated eye disease, and improving our understanding of the pathways driving it. Uveitis is a multifactorial disease whose etiology remains elusive and whose treatment continues to be a challenge despite recent advances.



John Frederick Shern, National Cancer Institute



Shern conducts research to define the biology, genetics, and epigenetics of pediatric sarcomas with the goal of developing novel therapies and sequencing assays that can be incorporated into diagnostic and prognostic clinical care. Resolving tumor heterogeneity and genetic mechanisms of tumor resistance is a major goal of his research program as well as the therapeutic targeting of epigenetic vulnerabilities in pediatric sarcomas, namely rhabdomyosarcoma and malignant peripheral nerve–sheath tumors.



Jing Wu, National Cancer Institute




Wu is interested in understanding primary brain tumors by developing preclinical models. The ultimate goal is to translate results into clinical trials to determine predictors and mechanisms of treatment responses or resistance.