The V Foundation for Cancer Research Announces 2024 Recipients for A Grant of Her Own: The Women Scientists Innovation Award for Cancer Research

Fifteen women scientists were awarded research grants to advance their innovative work in the cancer field, helping to address the significant funding disparities for women in science

Cary, NC (June 24, 2024) – The V Foundation for Cancer Research, a top-rated cancer charity, is proud to announce the second annual recipient class of A Grant of Her Own: The Women Scientists Innovation Award for Cancer Research. Fifteen exceptional women scientists were selected for their groundbreaking cancer research studies, with the V Foundation investing $10.2 million this year – and a total of $18.6 million since the program’s start in 2023.

This critical initiative is working to level the playing field for women in science, addressing the longstanding gender disparities in the research field. The breadth of challenges that women researchers face is substantial, including salary gaps and lower research funding than their male counterparts. Additionally, women are often tasked with a heavier distribution of parenting, household roles, caregiving and even workplace administrative duties, taking time away from work in the lab.

The V Foundation for Cancer Research established A Grant of Her Own: The Women Scientists Innovation Award for Cancer Research with the goal of promoting equity within the science community. The organization also serves as a premier supporter of advancing woman-led laboratories, research projects and discoveries in the cancer research field.

“There is no question that game-changing cancer research requires the brightest minds in science and the recipients selected for A Grant of Her Own are exactly that,” said Susanna Greer, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer at the V Foundation. “This is such a valuable opportunity to drive forward the innovative research occurring in each of their laboratories while also highlighting the importance of creating an equitable and empowering space for women in science.”

The V Foundation awards grants through a highly-selective review process overseen by its Scientific Advisory Committee, a distinguished group of clinicians and scientists from top cancer centers across North America. Each research proposal is carefully reviewed, and grants are awarded to the most promising research projects and scientists that will lead to breakthrough discoveries and lifesaving treatments.

The grants will be distributed between Translational and V Scholar awards. Of the 15 researchers selected for A Grant of Her Own, six scientists will be awarded a Translational Grant, which funds “bench-to-bedside” research, often culminating in the planning or initiation of a clinical trial. Nine researchers will be awarded the V Scholar Grant, an investment in early career researchers with cutting-edge ideas.

The recipients of the Translational Research Award, each receiving $800,000 over four years, are:

  • Gina Ogilvie, M.D., M.Sc., FCFP, Dr.PH., BC Cancer Research Centre: Developing new methods of cervical cancer screening with improved accuracy
  • Livia S. Eberlin, Ph.D., Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center: Transforming rectal cancer surgery with new technology to achieve complete cancer removal while preserving patient quality of life
  • Josephine A. Taverna, M.D., Mays Cancer Center at UT Health San Antonio: Tailoring individual treatments for lung cancer patients based on the tumor’s unique traits
  • Humsa Venkatesh, Ph.D., Brigham and Women’s Hospital: Uncovering how neuronal activity drives growth of brain tumors
  • Andrea Cercek, M.D., Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: Evaluating immunotherapy use in a subset of rectal cancer patients to increase responses and decrease the need for radiation and surgery
  • Maria T. Abreu, M.D., Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center: Targeting the gut microbiome for colorectal cancer treatment and prevention

The grantees of the V Scholar Award, each receiving $600,000 over three years, are:

  • Melissa Reeves, Ph.D., Huntsman Cancer Institute: Exploring variability in the anti-tumor immune response in order to improve responses to immunotherapy
  • Carla Nowosad, Ph.D., Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Health: Tracking immune cells and antibodies and determining their contribution to colorectal cancer development and progression
  • Esther Rheinbay, Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital: Defining the consequences of Y or X chromosome loss in uveal melanoma
  • Jessica Stark, Ph.D., David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT: Unlocking the potential of targeting sugars for colorectal cancer immunotherapy
  • Noam Auslander, Ph.D., Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center of The Wistar Institute: Identifying biomarkers of immunotherapy benefit and adverse events in melanoma
  • Christine Eyler, M.D., Ph.D., Duke Cancer Institute: Deciphering Drivers of Cell Changes in Response to Rectal Cancer Radiation
  • Corina Antal, Ph.D., Moores Comprehensive Cancer Center: Uncovering novel vulnerabilities in pancreatic cancer to discover new therapeutic targets
  • Caroline Bartman, Ph.D., Abramson Cancer Center: Targeting vitamin B1 metabolism to starve colorectal cancer
  • Xueqiu (Chu) Lin, Ph.D., Fred Hutch Cancer Center: Mapping oncogenic gene regulatory networks for colorectal cancer risk prediction

“I am thrilled that my grant was selected for funding. I have admired the V Foundation for many years, and it is such an honor to now be one of the grantees. I am very thankful and looking forward to starting the research we proposed in rectal cancer,” said Livia S. Eberlin, Ph.D., a Translational Grant award recipient. “The research we propose could dramatically improve outcomes for patients undergoing surgery for rectal cancer by providing surgeons with a new molecular-based device that allows them to identify tissues in vivo with certainty before excision, therefore enabling full removal of the cancerous tissues while preserving normal adjacent tissue structures that are unaffected.”

For further information about A Grant of Her Own and other V Foundation grant programs, visit




About the V Foundation for Cancer Research

The V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded in 1993 by ESPN and the late Jim Valvano, legendary North Carolina State University basketball coach and ESPN commentator. The V Foundation has funded over $353 million in game-changing cancer research grants nationwide through a competitive process strictly supervised by a world-class Scientific Advisory Committee. Because the V Foundation has an endowment to cover administrative expenses, 100% of direct donations are awarded to cancer research and programs. The V team is committed to accelerating Victory Over Cancer®. To learn more, visit



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