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Cancer researcher Camila dos Santos of CSHL is named a Rita Allen Foundation Scholar

Cold Spring Harbor, NY – Assistant Professor Camila dos Santos of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) has been selected as one of seven 2016 Rita Allen Foundation Scholars. The award, which was announced today by the Rita Allen Foundation, supports young leaders in biomedical science whose research holds great promise for revealing new pathways to advance human health. The award will provide Dr. Dos Santos $100,000 annually for up to five years.

Camila dos SantosThe Scholars were selected for their original scientific approaches, focus on areas of global concern, opportunities for lasting outcomes, collaborations, and demonstration of leadership and learning potential.

“The faculty of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory join with me in congratulating Camila dos Santos on this prestigious award,” says CSHL Director of Research and Professor David L. Spector. “The generous support of institutions like the Rita Allen Foundation enables young investigators to perform ground-breaking innovative projects that are likely to lead to the next great advances in biomedical research.”

Dos Santos and her team are studying breast development in mouse models. They have found dramatic differences in the pace of breast development between first and second pregnancies, which appear to be mediated by epigenetic mechanisms—molecular changes that affect gene expression without altering DNA sequences.

The Rita Allen Foundation award will allow the dos Santos lab to assess the relevance of these epigenetic phenomena (pdf) for breast cancer risk, which is at least 30 percent lower in women who have a full-term pregnancy before the age of 25. A long-term goal is to use this knowledge to “propose a prophylactic strategy” so that even women who do not have an early pregnancy can “still leverage the preventive effect that the pregnancy signals are bringing to decrease the risk of breast cancer,” dos Santos says.

About the Rita Allen Foundation Scholars

The Rita Allen Foundation Scholars program concentrates on young leaders in biomedical research who are advancing our understanding of the human condition. Through our Scholars, we embrace innovative research with above average risk and groundbreaking possibilities. We are proud of the more than 150 Scholars, including a Nobel Laureate, who have received our financial assistance. Our Scholars are nominated by premier research institutions and then selected by the Rita Allen Foundation Scientific Advisory Committee. Some of the Guiding Principles for selection include: attention to innovation, focus on areas of global concern, opportunities for lasting outcomes, collaborations, and a demonstration of leadership and learning potential. Visit http://www.ritaallen.org/foundation-scholars.htm

About Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Founded in 1890, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has shaped contemporary biomedical research and education with programs in cancer, neuroscience, plant biology and quantitative biology. Home to eight Nobel Prize winners, the private, not-for-profit Laboratory employs 1,100 people including 600 scientists, students and technicians. The Meetings & Courses Program hosts more than 12,000 scientists from around the world each year on its campuses in Long Island and in Suzhou, China. The Laboratory's education arm also includes an academic publishing house, a graduate school and programs for middle and high school students and teachers. For more information, visit www.cshl.edu