Sponsored by the Brigham & Women’s Hospital and USCAP
The Ramzi S. Cotran Young Investigator Award was established by the USCAP Board of Directors to recognize a body of investigative work which has contributed significantly to the diagnosis and understanding of human disease. This award is restricted to USCAP members who are under the age of 45 and in good standing with USCAP for at least one year prior to receiving the award.
This important award is named after Dr. Ramzi S. Cotran, Past-President of USCAP, outstanding pathologist, person, and mentor. The award consists of a commemorative plaque and $5,000.
- Application form, completed and signed by the applicant
- Curriculum Vitae (CV)
- Letter from a nominating sponsor (not necessarily a USCAP member) summarizing the nominee’s qualifications for the award
- Supporting letter from an additional sponsor who must be a member of USCAP
Note: The deadline for The Ramzi S. Cotran Young Investigator Award is
Thursday, October 11, 2018.
Lynette M. Sholl, M.D.
2018 Ramzi S. Cotran Young Investigator Award
Dr. Sholl’s post-graduate training began in the early 2000s, coinciding with the arrival of EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors. At that time these were used much as chemotherapy was used –-empirically– in patients with advanced lung cancers. As a medicine intern in Philadelphia, she cared for a young, nonsmoking woman with respiratory failure due to metastatic lung cancer and gefitinib pneumonitis; oncologists were eager to try out this new class of cancer drugs in the clinic, only to be repeatedly disappointed by lack of efficacy, or as in her patient’s case, overwhelming toxicity. Shortly thereafter, researchers in Boston identified EGFR mutations in the rare responders to EGFR kinase inhibitors, and the concept of biomarker-driven therapies exploded into the lung cancer space. Identification of sensitive and specific biomarkers of response to targeted cancer therapies has not been a straightforward endeavor. Studies that are underpowered, confounded, or dependent on an unreliable assay can send the field scrambling in all the wrong directions. Both EGFR copy number and protein expression have been proposed as biomarkers for EGFR kinase inhibitors (and indeed used routinely in clinical practice for many years); however, neither of these is sensitive or specific for response, although both are correlated with EGFR mutation.
During her anatomic pathology residency and fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) Boston, MA, Dr. Sholl worked closely with mentors across disciplines (Neal Lindeman and John Iafrate, molecular pathology; Lucian Chirieac, surgical pathology; David Christiani, epidemiology and public health; Pasi Janne, oncology) to critically examine the interrelatedness and true predictive nature of these biomarkers, and ultimately informed best practices. She continued to pursue approaches to better, faster, cheaper methods for selecting the right drug for the right patient and characterization of unique genomic subsets of morphologically-defined tumors. Now that it is known how to choose patients for EGFR and other kinase inhibitors with significant improvements in lung cancer outcomes, the next task is to understand modifiers of response. Dr. Sholl has worked closely with clinical colleagues to implement liquid biopsy in EGFR-mutated lung cancer patients, a collaboration that enabled routine clinical testing of circulating tumor DNA beginning in 2016, enabling understanding of clinical practice in this evolving area, shaping practice guidelines, and anticipating a role for blood-based monitoring of solid tumors. The remarkable recent advances in molecular diagnostics have enabled further honing of classification systems and identification of promising therapeutic targets in poorly understood tumors. At BWH Dr. Sholl and collaborators advocate for wider access to comprehensive genotyping to facilitate diagnosis, prediction and prognosis for all cancer patients, to promote informed treatment decisions across the practice of oncology and to advance the mission of pathology.