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American Cancer Society Honors Illinois IGERT-CMMB Professor


Dr. Brendan Harley, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the Institute for Genomic Biology, was recently awarded the American Cancer Society’s prestigious President’s Award for Research to honor his dedication to both research and public outreach.

Dr. Harley has spoken at many Relay For Life events, brought donors into his lab for briefings, and last spring ran the Illinois Marathon as part of the American Cancer Society DetermiNation team. “It is gratifying to do science and educate people outside the classroom,” says Harley. “The ACS funds early stage projects that have the potential for big impact, and its important that donors understand what ACS does and how their funding can yield inestimable rewards.”

Dr. Harley, a leukemia survivor, was in high school when he benefited from a bone-marrow transplant, a procedure pioneered in the 1960s and 1970s. The American Cancer Society now funds research in his laboratory looking to create biomaterial systems that enable the study of bone-marrow-derived stem cell behaviors related to hematopoietic health and disease. He and his research team are on the cusp of engineering a functioning bone-marrow mimic that could lead to a better understanding of blood and immune disorders and development of new anti-cancer and regenerative tissue therapies.

“Investing in research is critical to supporting patients today and tomorrow,” says Harley. “Our findings will have an immediate impact by providing insight into how hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells use extrinsic cues, but more significantly offers the potential to improve our understanding of the etiology and progression of hematopoietic diseases and lead to new, more effective therapies that will benefit future generations.”

The American Cancer Society has funded 40 investigators who have gone on to win Nobel Prizes.

Dr. Harley advises trainees funded through the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign IGERT-CMMB.