Sara Pedron Haba (RBTE), a research assistant professor in chemical and biomolecular engineering and a member of the Cancer Center at Illinois, was recently named a 2022 awardee of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).
The program provides funds for full-time minority faculty members and faculty members of Minority-Serving Institutions. Recipients of this award are scientists who are working at the level of assistant professor or above who are engaged in basic, clinical, or translational cancer research. Now in its 25th year, this award program has been supported by the National Cancer Institute’s Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities. The Center works to increase the number of underrepresented minorities participating as competitive NCI/NIH-funded cancer researchers.
Pedron’s work broadly focuses on understanding how stromal cells support solid tumor cell growth and the mechanisms involved to reinstate their healthy function. In particular, she aims to create artificial platforms that study tumor development and therapeutic approaches, with the ultimate goal of applying this knowledge to the clinic and implementing targeted therapies that alter critical tumor-microenvironment interactions to improve patients’ prognoses.
As a mentor, Pedron is committed to an accessible, collaborative, and constructive laboratory culture that respects the capabilities of each member. She works towards increasing connections and engaging with colleagues throughout her institution, to advance tumor research and create an inclusive learning environment. Together with some members of the IGB Committee on Diversity Task Force, she has established a successful seminar series, the “Lunchbox,” that bridges the gap between scientific research and society. Their goal is to institutionalize the program, extend the science–society connection to their community, collaborate with local organizations, and increase awareness in areas that have been shown to disproportionately affect racial/ethnic minority groups. She is also interested in contributing to family literacy programs, aimed at improving parents’ support skills that would have an impact on children’s education and access to careers in STEM.