Professor Guillaume Chanfreau has been selected by the American Cancer Society for the 2017 Determination Award for his cancer research.
The award is given annually to an American Cancer Society funded scientist/researcher who has had success in a critical area of continuing cancer research.
A biochemistry professor, Chanfreau is also a member of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. His cancer research focusses on the molecular mechanisms that regulate the synthesis of ribosomes in eukaryotic cells. Cancer cells have very high needs for proteins due to their rapid rate of division, so they typically increase the synthesis of ribosomes, which produce cellular proteins. Production of the RNA components of the ribosomes by RNA polymerase I is essential for this increased synthesis, and cancer cells frequently show a deregulation of RNA Polymerase I activity to promote higher levels of ribosomal RNAs production. The Chanfreau group showed that zinc is an important element that controls RNA polymerase I stability and that decreasing cellular zinc levels lead to degradation of RNA Polymerase I and to a strong reduction in ribosomal RNA synthesis. These findings show that RNA polymerase I activity can be tightly regulated by zinc, suggesting potential strategies to perturb cancer cell proliferation by modulating zinc levels and the stability of RNA Polymerase I.
In addition to his research, Chanfreau has a long history of supporting the American Cancer Society. He served for several years as a reviewer of grant applications for the society, and then as chair of one of their review committees.
His support extends outside academia, as Chanfreau ran the 2008 Chicago Marathon as an American Cancer Society Charity Runner, raising over $10,000 to honor a friend who is a cancer survivor. (Pictured right at the marathon.)
Chanfreau will be honored at the the society’s Giants of Science Gala on Saturday, October 14, 2017 at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. All the proceeds from the event will go towards cancer research. According to the organizers, “the event honors award recipients for their exceptional accomplishments and exemplary dedication to furthering cancer research, as well as those serving as beacons of hope and courage to the cancer community”.
Also being honored by the society this year is alumnus Professor Thomas Graeber (Postdoc ’99-‘05, Eisenberg group), UCLA Molecular & Medical Pharmacology, who has been selected for the society’s 2017 Passion Award.