The V Foundation for Cancer Research Announces the First Class of A Grant of Her Own: The Women Scientists Innovation Award for Cancer Research

Eleven exceptional researchers receive grants in a move to progress cancer research while challenging gender disparities

Cary, NC (June 27, 2023) – The V Foundation for Cancer Research, a premier cancer research charity, proudly announces the first recipients of A Grant of Her Own: The Women Scientists Innovation Award for Cancer Research. This landmark initiative is helping to counteract longstanding gender disparities in research by investing $8 million in the groundbreaking work of 11 women scientists leading the charge in cancer research.

Women researchers face substantial pay gaps, on average $18,000 less per year in comparison to their male colleagues, and they encounter a funding difference of 38% less to support their research. The COVID-19 pandemic placed an unfair caregiving burden on female researchers as well, leading to less time spent in the lab. The setbacks endured throughout the pandemic will have long-term for women in cancer research. Recognizing these disparities, the V Foundation for Cancer Research developed A Grant of Her Own: The Women Scientists Innovation Award for Cancer Research to amplify female representation and encourage more women-led breakthroughs in this field.

The V Foundation awards competitive grants to the top cancer centers in the country through a process vetted by its Scientific Advisory Committee, comprised of the nation’s top doctors and scientists. This group helps the Foundation to remain selective, forward thinking, and determined in how more research is funded across all cancer types.  This funding model is unique and ensures the momentum in science continues.

“These outstanding scientists deserve recognition and support for the groundbreaking research being conducted. Outside of applauding their accomplishments, this inaugural class signals the V Foundation’s commitment to challenging the status quo,” Susanna F. Greer, Ph.D., and the V Foundation’s Chief Scientific Officer stated. “Through these grants, we are not only advancing vital cancer research, but we are working to encourage more women to pursue careers in science. ”

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

  • Sarah Adams, MD, University of New Mexico Cancer Research & Treatment Center, for her novel treatment predictive biomarker for immune therapy in ovarian cancer.
  • Julia Carnevale, MD, UCSF/Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, for innovations in engineering cutting-edge CART-T cells for treating gastrointestinal malignancies.
  • Lesley Jarvis, MD, Ph.D., Dartmouth Cancer Center, for her translation of ultra-high dose rate radiotherapy to improve clinical outcomes.
  • Sita Kugel, Ph.D., Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and a 2018 V Scholar grant recipient, for her work in targeting the CDK7 enzyme in basal subtype pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma
  • Eva Hernando-Monge, Ph.D., NYU Langone Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center, for her novel metabolic adaptations as targets in melanoma brain metastasis.

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

  • Kelly Bolton, MD, Ph.D., Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, for her work on the molecular mechanisms underlying prostate cancer.
  • Christina Glytsou, Ph.D., Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, for her research on mitochondrial dynamics adaptations in drug-resistant acute myeloid leukemia.
  • Sarah Johnstone, MD, Ph.D., Dana-Farber Cancer Center, for investigating the architectural protein mutations that rewire ovarian cancer genomes.
  • Katherine Tossas, Ph.D., M.S., VCU Massey Cancer Center, for her research on the influence of the vaginal microbiome and stress-response pathways on racial disparities in precancerous cervical lesions.
  • Christina Towers, Ph.D., Salk Cancer Center – Salk Institute for Biological Studies, for her work in uncovering novel metabolic susceptibilities in pancreatic cancer.
  • Ly Vu, Ph.D., University of British Columbia, for defining a high-resolution functional map of m6A RNA epi transcriptome in normal and malignant blood stem cells.

“I cannot thank the V Foundation for Cancer Research enough for having faith in my work and for funding my project,” Christina Towers, Assistant Professor at Salk Institute for Biological Studies said. “As a working mother who has faced numerous hurdles in my research career, I am thrilled to receive this grant that helps me pursue my work in treating cancer patients and making a lasting difference. The A Grant of her Own: The Women Scientists Innovation Award for Cancer Research empowers women in science and gives us the opportunity to continue to grow our career and diversify the scientific workforce.”

For further information about this initiative 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 $310 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


Mykala Healy

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