At the 54th ASCO Annual Meeting, Hong Ha Rosa Nguyen, MD, was presented a Young Investigator Award for her commitment to cancer research and accelerating breakthroughs that will make a difference in the lives of those affected by cancer. 

Caption: Kay W. Verble and Hong Ha Rosa Nguyen, MD

Credit: Photo by © ASCO/Brian Powers 2018

Hong Ha Rosa Nguyen, MD
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
“Optimizing immunotherapy in neuroblastoma and understanding the role of NK cells”
Mentored by: Michael Dyer, PhD
Neuroblastoma is the third most common cancer of childhood and comprised of a heterogeneous group of tumors that differ in biology and prognosis. While patients with low-risk neuroblastoma have excellent survival rates that exceed 90%, children with high-risk disease have a very poor prognosis, and less than 50% were cured in the past. The most significant advancement in high-risk neuroblastoma therapy was the discovery of anti-disialoganglioside (GD2) antibody which is used in combination with interleukin 2 (IL-2) and has improved survival of affected children. Antibody helps immune cells called natural killer (NK) cells detect and eliminate tumor and IL-2 enhances their anti-tumor effect. However, despite this, one third of patients still experience treatment failure within the first two years of therapy and 50% will have significant therapy related side effects. Therefore, our goal is to optimize immunotherapy for neuroblastoma to overcome therapy related toxicities, while maximizing disease response and survival.

Rosa Nguyen obtained her medical degree from the University of Hamburg in Germany in 2010. She is a board-certified pediatrician and board eligible in pediatric hematology/oncology. She completed her residency training at the University of Maryland and her fellowship at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. She is currently a fourth-year fellow in the physician-scientist training program at St. Jude and a PhD candidate at the University of Tennessee, completing her graduate studies in the laboratory of Michael A. Dyer.

Support of this award for the period of 7/1/2018-6/30/2019 provided by The Sontag Foundation and the Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO.