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By Katie Neitz

Khadijah Mitchell, Peter C.S. d’Aubermont, M.D., Scholar of Health and Life Sciences and assistant professor of biology, has been awarded a Kidney Cancer Research Program Concept Award from the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP).

Her project, “Biological Determinants of Kidney Cancer Health Disparities,” was awarded a one-year $75,000 grant, managed by U.S. Army Medical Research.

Mitchell, who joined Lafayette in 2017, is a human geneticist with a focus on health disparities and epigenetics. She studies the links among genetics, the environment, and cancer.

Khadijah Mitchell

Mitchell has spent most of her career researching why African Americans have higher incidences of lung cancer compared to European Americans. It has only been in the last year that she has expanded her research to study kidney cancer.

Her efforts have been noticed. In 2018, she received two notable awards in recognition of her contributions to kidney cancer research: the American Academy of Cancer Research’s Minority & MSI Faculty Scholar in Cancer Research Award and the┬áCancer Disparities Research Network Early Career Cancer Health Disparities Researcher Award.

“I’m honored and humbled, especially since this is my first year doing kidney cancer research,” Mitchell says. “I know that there are racial differences in lung cancer, and I’m trying to see if race is a driver with kidney cancer. If there is a genetic factor, it means we can develop therapies that target the cancer in more effective ways.”

One of the innovative aspects of her upcoming research will involve looking at so-called “chromosome shattering” (the disassembly and resulting reassembly of DNA), which could explain why cancer tumors tend to be more aggressive in African Americans.

About the CDMRP:
The CDMRP aims to foster novel approaches to biomedical research in response to the expressed needs of its stakeholders: the American public, the military, and Congress. The CDMRP fills research gaps by funding high-impact, high-risk, and high-gain projects that other agencies may not venture to fund. While individual programs are unique in their focus, all of the programs managed by the CDMRP share the common goal of advancing paradigm-shifting research, solutions that will lead to cures or improvements in patient care, or breakthrough technologies and resources for clinical benefit. The CDMRP strives to transform health care for service members and the American public through innovative and impactful research.

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