5 New Pew-Stewart Scholars to Pursue Innovative Cancer Research

5 New Pew-Stewart Scholars to Pursue Innovative Cancer Research

PHILADELPHIA—The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Alexander and Margaret Stewart Trust announced today the 2018 class of Pew-Stewart Scholars for Cancer Research.

The five independent, early-career investigators making up this year’s class are revolutionizing cancer research and working toward a cure for the disease. All will receive four-year grants to advance their efforts.

This is the fifth year that the Alexander and Margaret Stewart Trust has partnered with Pew to support researchers pursuing pioneering work focused on a better understanding of the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. This year, the inaugural class of Pew-Stewart scholars completed the program and emphasized the importance of early-career funding—grants that helped to cement the direction of their research and launch their scientific careers.

“Medicine’s ability to treat certain cancers has vastly improved with recent breakthroughs, but constant innovation and new discoveries are needed to stop or slow many other forms of the disease,” said Rebecca W. Rimel, Pew’s president and CEO. “The 2018 class of Pew-Stewart scholars will bring novel approaches to cancer’s complex challenges, and we’re proud to support their extraordinary work.”

Research by the Class of 2018 includes several promising opportunities to advance the treatment of cancer, such as research on immunotherapies and responses to these therapies, how cells conduct quality control, and what metastatic cancer cells require to thrive.

“These researchers are focusing on promising, unexplored leads in the scientific quest to beat cancer,” said Peter M. Howley, M.D., chair of the Pew-Stewart national advisory committee. “Their work will open doors to new lines of attack against this disease, and I’m thrilled to have these impressive scholars join our program.”

The 2018 Pew-Stewart Scholars for Cancer Research are:

Michael Birnbaum, Ph.D.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Dr. Birnbaum studies ways to engineer T cells that can more effectively recognize and target cancer cells for destruction.

Kivanç Birsoy, Ph.D.
The Rockefeller University
Dr. Birsoy studies metabolic changes that occur in cancer cells during tumor formation and metastasis.

Aaron M. Ring, M.D., Ph.D.
Yale University
Dr. Ring will examine the body’s natural antibody response to immunotherapy in patients with cancer.

Alex K. Shalek, Ph.D.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Dr. Shalek will isolate cancerous and noncancerous cells in the spinal fluid and determine how the tumor and its environment respond to treatment with immunotherapy.

Rebecca M. Voorhees, Ph.D.
California Institute of Technology
Dr. Voorhees will examine factors that are involved in regulating how protein complexes are formed and degraded, a process cancer cells are particularly dependent on to stay alive.

Visit the program page to read the scholars’ full abstracts and learn more about the program.   

In addition to the 2018 class of Pew-Stewart scholars, the new classes of Pew biomedical scholars and Latin American fellows were also announced today.


The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. Learn more at pewtrusts.org.

The Alexander and Margaret Stewart Trust, established in 1947, is a charitable foundation supporting nonprofit organizations that research, treat, and prevent cancer and pediatric illnesses. Learn more at stewart-trust.org.

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