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Young Investigator: Simge Acar, MD

By September 30, 2022December 18th, 2023Awards & Grants, NF1, Science & Research

The Young Investigator Award (YIA) provides two-year salary support to early career NF researchers to help them get established as independent NF investigators. Since its inception, several YIAs have made groundbreaking research findings and notable publications through this program, and many have advanced to become leaders in the NF research and clinical communities.

We’re pleased to introduce some of these researchers from the latest class of awardees: Simge Acar tells us about her research and being part of the community.

What are you hoping to learn from this project?
Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNST) are one of the common malignancies in individuals with NF1 and are associated with poor overall survival. My project focuses on the genomic perturbations caused by chromosome 8 gain in MPNSTs. We hope to understand how chromosome 8 gain promotes cancer progression by analyzing MPNST samples from patients.

What are your long-term research goals?
I graduated from medical school last summer. I aim to become an NF1-focused pediatric oncologist and do impactful research in the field. 

Tell us about life in a research lab. What's a typical day look like?
I feel fortunate to work in such a supportive lab environment. My PI, Dr. Angela Hirbe, and colleagues are amazing. I enjoy what I do and I am learning a lot! A typical lab day for me is usually doing the experiments I planned and attending lab and clinical meetings. Some days I go to the NF Clinic and see pediatric and adult patients, which I find meaningful in terms of combining my clinical skills and research. 

What brought you to the NF research field?
I was always interested in pediatric oncology since the beginning of medical school. I had the chance to work with my PI as a summer intern during med school and I loved it! I felt like this is the right place to achieve my long-term goals and here I am.

What do you like to do when you're not in the lab?
I love biking at Forest Park after lab. It is such a big park that I discover a new spot every time. Also, I am a real foodie and I enjoy exploring new restaurants with my friends in the city.

What does it mean to you to receive this funding from CTF?
Receiving the YIA grant from CTF is extremely motivating for me to pursue my goal of becoming a physician-scientist.  I would like to contribute to the NF field as much as I can during these two years and am excited to see where my NF research leads me in the future!

Is there anything else you'd like to add?
It has been only a couple of months since I joined the CTF community but I already feel like I am a part of the family. I love how CTF connects researchers and physicians with patients with NF. I think that connection is one of the most important things that lead to breakthrough research.

The Children’s Tumor Foundation Discovery Fund is an $8-10 million initiative supporting the Foundation’s longstanding commitment to driving and funding the best and most promising neurofibromatosis (NF) research. Discovery Fund researchers will focus on NF drug development, including basic science to pre-clinical and early-stage clinical trials, with the goal of developing new treatments and potential cures for NF1, NF2, MPNSTs and schwannomatosis.

Learn more about the Young Investigator Awards here.