2022 Fishman Fund Awards honor postdoctoral researchers

| Written by Miles Martin
2022 Fishman Fund Awardees - Shanshan Yin, Ph.D., Tanja Eisemann, Ph.D., Cynthia Lebeaupin, Ph.D. and Guillem Lambies Barjau, Ph.D.

Since 2001, the awards have paid tribute to our Institute’s heritage and supported the trailblazers of tomorrow

Last week, the Fishman Fund Awards were presented at the Sanford Consortium, marking the first in-person awards presentation for the scholarships since 2019. The Fishman Fund honors the legacy of the Institute’s founders, Dr. William and Mrs. Lillian Fishman, and its purpose is to support the next generation of scientific leaders.

“The Fishman Fund Awards are important to our community and to the future of science,” said President and CEO David Brenner, M.D., during his comments at the ceremony. “The Fishmans understood that supporting our young scientists is a critical investment in the future of research, and that postdocs are the lifeblood of a scientific enterprise and crucial to the process of discovery.”

Professor Hudson Freeze, Ph.D., the first Fishman Fund awardee, recalled how the award was given to faculty the first year, but after that became an award exclusively for postdoctoral researchers. “Those are the people who do the work, and without them, there is no Institute,” said Freeze.

Assistant Professor Caroline Kumsta, Ph.D., who was a Fishman Fund awardee in 2011, also spoke. “The Fishman Fund has shaped many aspects of my life, and I am honored to be one of the recipients,” she said.

The evening was emceed by Reena Horowitz, who established the Fishman Fund with the late Mary Bradley in 2001. Since then, 74 awards have been conferred. This year, three $10,000 awards were given to postdocs to support their career development. An additional fellowship that provides salary and benefits was also awarded.

“These awards are important because they provide the vital funds to young career scientists for professional development and collaborative opportunities,” Horowitz said. “It is these up-and-coming biomedical researchers who will make the medical discoveries of tomorrow, shape the future of healthcare and literally save lives.”

This year’s awards were presented to:

Guillem Lambies Barjau

Guillem Lambies Barjau, Ph.D.
Jeanne Jones and Kathryn Fishback Fishman Fund Award

“I am honored to be here today. Thank you to Sanford Burnham Prebys and the Fishman Fund for giving me this opportunity.”

Lambies Barjau hopes to improve the outcome of patients with pancreatic cancer. In the lab of Cosimo Commisso, Ph.D., Lambies Barjau studies how pancreatic cancer cells gather nutrients from their environment to survive and grow. Pancreatic tumors exist in a harsh, nutrient-poor environment, but they can activate a process called macropinocytosis to scavenge molecules as an alternative source of energy. By deciphering this process, Lambies Barjau’s research may reveal novel approaches to slow the growth of these often-deadly tumors.


Shanshan Yin

Shanshan Yin, Ph.D.
Lenka Finci and Erna Viterbi Fishman Fund Award

“I am grateful that you are our scientists’ strongest supporters. Together, we’ll do great science.”

Yin is studying the links between aging and breast cancer. About one in eight women will get breast cancer during her life, and the risk increases with age. In the lab of Peter Adams, Ph.D., Yin uses cutting-edge technology to quantify the activation of specific genes during aging. Identifying these genes may help explain why breast cancer occurs more frequently in older women, and could also lead to preventive treatments to spare the millions affected by the disease.


Tanja Eisemann

Tanja Eisemann, Ph.D.
Reena Horowitz and Mary Bradley Fishman Fund Award

“I can’t tell you how honored I am to receive a 2022 Fishman Fund Award. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the Fishman Fund donors for their generosity.”

Eisemann is exploring approaches to leverage the immune system against medulloblastoma, one of the most aggressive childhood brain cancers. Although rare, there are still about 500 children in the U.S. diagnosed each year with this dangerous cancer. In the lab of Robert Wechsler-Reya, Ph.D., Eisemann studies the interactions between T cells and medulloblastoma tumor cells, opening new research avenues to discover therapies that can enhance a patient’s own immune system to slow—or even eliminate—this dangerous brain cancer.


Cynthia Lebeaupin

Cynthia Lebeaupin, Ph.D.
Fishman Fund Fellowship

“The Fishman Fund Fellowship and the resources at Sanford Burnham Prebys will ensure I canperform science of excellent quality and make a lasting impact. Thank you for your support.”

Lebeaupin works in the laboratory of Randal J. Kaufman, Ph.D., where she studies how fatty liver disease leads to liver cancer. Fatty liver disease, which affects more than 25% of the U.S. population, develops when the body creates too much fat or can’t metabolize fat efficiently enough. There are no treatments or cures for this chronic liver condition and no methods of early detection. Lebeaupin’s research aims to address this unmet medical need by uncovering the biological pathways that lead to liver cancer and translating these findings into effective therapies.

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