AghaAmiri earns 2022 NANETS Grant

By Roman Petrowski, Office of Communications

Solmaz AghaAmiri, PhD - NANETS Grant
Solmaz AghaAmiri, PhD

The North American Neuroendocrine Tumor Society (NANETS) has awarded Solmaz AghaAmiri, PhD, post-doctoral researcher in the Center for Translational Cancer Research at the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine, as the 2022 recipient of NANETS Theranostics Investigator Grant (NTIG).

AghaAmiri was awarded the scholarship for her proposal “Overcoming MGMT resistance in NETs with a tumor-targeted drug.”

In 2019, after completing her undergraduate and PhD studies in Iran, AghaAmiri joined the laboratory of her mentor Ali Azhdarinia, PhD, associate professor in the Center for Translational Cancer Research, for postdoctoral training. The Azhdarinia lab is highly translational and focuses on developing theragnostic for cancer detection and therapeutic purposes with a focus on neuroendocrine tumors.

AghaAmiri will be co-mentored by Daniel Halperin, MD, medical oncologist at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and NANETS board member, whose focus is on the treatment of NET patients, with a particular emphasis on somatostatin receptor-directed approaches.

AghaAmiri’s enthusiasm for cancer research began during her graduate training when she developed a tumor-targeted fusion protein. As a postdoctoral fellow in the Azhdarinia lab, she has gained exposure to developing treatment paradigms and the recent advances in the field of NET treatment, especially in the area of theranostics, which fueled her decision to continue her research in this field.

“It will be a pleasure to co-mentor Dr. AghaAmiri with Dr. Halperin,” Azhdarinia said. “As a PI who developed my own independent research program at UTHealth Houston, I look forward to providing her with the necessary guidance to begin her independent career as a translational researcher.”

The overall objective of AghaAmiri’s proposal is to selectively deliver an MGMT inhibitor to SSTR2-expressing tumors in order to reduce chemoresistance to DNA-alkylating agents and eventually enhance treatment outcomes in NET patients.

“NANETS is delighted to support Dr. AghaAmiri in this project in the area of theranostics, which was developed to push forward the boundaries of molecularly targeted radionuclide therapy and diagnostics for patients with neuroendocrine tumors,” the organization said.

The NTIG award is a two-year, $100,000 grant made possible through generous support from the North American Neuroendocrine Tumor Society and supported by an educational grant from Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation on behalf of Advanced Accelerator Applications.