Jens C. Schmidt, a postdoctoral scientist conducting cancer research in the lab of Thomas R. Cech at CU-Boulder, recently was named a Damon Runyon Fellow by the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on supporting innovative early career researchers.
The Fellowship encourages the nation's most promising young scientists to pursue careers in cancer research by providing them with independent funding ($156,000 each for basic scientists, $186,000 for physician-scientists) to work on innovative projects.
Schmidt’s research focuses on understanding how the enzyme telomerase maintains the length of the ends of human chromosomes. This process is crucial to prevent chromosome fusion events, a strong driving force of cancer. In addition, 90 percent of all cancers require telomerase activity for survival, making it a potential target for cancer therapy. He will use a combination of biophysical, biochemical and cell biological approaches to determine how telomerase is recruited to chromosome ends and to identify potential inhibitors of this process.