Magdalena Sznurkowska & Irene Casanova Salas awarded 2024 EACR-AstraZeneca Postdoctoral Fellowships

Magdalena Sznurkowska and Irene Casanova Salas have been announced as the 2024 recipients of EACR-AstraZeneca Postdoctoral Fellowships, funding that is awarded for a period of up to three years to support excellent postdoctoral researchers in laboratories throughout Europe and the world.

Jane Smith, Chief Executive Officer at the EACR, says, “It is a pleasure to offer warm congratulations to Magda and Irene. We are delighted that they both will be joining us at our congress in Rotterdam in June to tell us more about their research, and we wish them all the very best as they embark on their Fellowships. We are grateful to AstraZeneca for their continued support for EACR members; our third call for EACR-AstraZeneca Fellowships is open until 24 April 2024”.

About the Recipients

Magdalena Sznurkowska is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Nicola Aceto’s laboratory at the Institute of Molecular Heath Sciences, ETH Zürich, where she studies the mechanisms of metastasis. She completed a Bachelor in Molecular Biology at University College London. She then moved to Cambridge (UK) to conduct her PhD work at the Department of Onoclogy and Stem Cell Institute, Univerity of Cambridge. Her interest in studying the mechanisms of metastasis has led to previous awards such as EMBO and Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowships.

Her current research focuses on discovering and exploiting therapeutic vulnerabilities in breast cancer metastasis, with main interests in cancer heterogeneity and response to treatment. To explore her research questions, she exploits molecular biology techniques, including various sequencing approaches, functional CRISPR genomics with patient-derived CTC xenografts, humanized in vivo models, microfluidic and robotic technologies for CTC isolation and  sequencing technologies.

“I am honoured to have been awarded the prestigious fellowship from EACR and AstraZeneca,” she says, “This fellowship presents a great opportunity to develop a project at the interface of industry and academia, with a potential to have a broader impact. I am particularly thrilled about the prospect of working with one of the emerging drugs of AstraZeneca and studying the mechanisms of potential resistance and sensitisation to the treatment.”

Click here to see Magdalena’s institute profile page

Irene Casanova Salas is a biomedical scientist dedicated to studying prostate cancer (PC). She pursued her PhD in miRNA’s prognostic value in PC at Valencian Oncology Institute (IVO) and Principe Felipe Research Center in Spain, and feels that this experience emphasised the importance of translational platforms to improve cancer research’s clinical impact. Her research led to 12 publications, identifying miR-187 as a non-invasive biomarker for PC diagnosis and revealing the significance of miR-182 in prognosis and patient stratification. She also investigated other biomarkers like ALDH1A3 and SPOP gene, furthering the understanding of PC progression and potential therapeutic targets. During her PhD, she collaborated with labs in New York and Italy, expanding her expertise in exosome biology and identifying IGF1R’s impact on PC progression within specific genetic biotypes.

After her PhD, she continued her research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), studying genomic evolution in PC using single-cell sequencing. She received a US Department of Defense Early Investigator Research Award for her work on PC genomics. Later, at VHIO (Barcelona), she was awarded La Caixa Postdoctoral Junior Leader Fellowship to develop liquid biopsy-based tools for genomic and transcriptomic stratification of metastatic PC, providing valuable information on patient prognosis and treatment response.

Her long-term goal is to continue developing these tools and bridge the gap between research and clinical applications.

“I’m very thankful to EACR and Astrazeneca for awarding me this esteemed research fellowship in support of my work developing a new extracellular vesicle-based liquid biopsy assay to monitor prostate cancer tumor evolution and therapy adaptation.

The EACR-AZ fellowship will allow me to broaden the impact and significance of my research project by facilitating the validation of these results in many and different therapeutic clinical contexts, yielding biomarkers that can be used as discovery tools for studying mechanisms of drug response and resistance in advanced prostate cancer.
I look forward working alongside AZ team, as this interaction will undoubtedly help fast-track the translation and implementation of our results into the clinical setting.

I’m excited to present our developments at the 2024 EACR congress and hope to engage on great scientific discussions with other EACR members and get their insight.”

Click here to see Irene’s LinkedIn profile page

More about EACR-AstraZeneca Postdoctoral Fellowships

The aims of this funding are to support the career development of outstanding EACR members in the early stage of their careers, and to train the next generation of scientists engaged in innovative research in areas where AstraZeneca has demonstrated leadership through its pipeline and research programs. Learn more here.