Aflac Foundation Funds Young Investigators in Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology

The Aflac Foundation has once again provided critically-needed support for young investigators pursuing an academic career with an emphasis on adolescents and young adults (AYA) with cancer. This area is of particular interest to the Children’s Oncology Group, which is the first—and to date only—cooperative clinical trials organization in North America to have an AYA Committee dedicated to conducting research in this age group.

Through the Aflac Young Investigator Award in AYA Oncology, applicants compete for financial support for proposals that include both a strong AYA-focused clinical research project, and a specific plan for a structured, mentored, cross-age training experience involving AYA patients. Each Aflac AYA Young Investigator Award is for $30,000 per year for up to 2 years of support. Through this innovative awards program, now in its 6th year of funding by Aflac, investigators become part of a growing population of physicians and other researchers dedicated to improving outcomes for this challenging patient population.

CureSearch congratulates Anne H. Blaes, MD, this year’s Aflac Young Investigator in AYA Oncology. A medical oncologist at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Blaes’ research project is entitled "Vascular Assessment in Young Adult Survivors of Testicular Cancer." Specifically, Dr. Blaes will study markers of vascular injury that may occur through exposure to cisplatin, an effective chemotherapeutic agent commonly used to treat testicular cancer, as well as many other malignancies of childhood and adolescence.

Dr. Blaes received her medical degree from Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine in 2002. She performed her residency at the University of Minnesota where she was named the Resident Teacher of the Year, and also received The Gold Foundation Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Award for her outstanding contributions as resident role model. Dr. Blaes served as Chief Resident in Internal Medicine 2005-2006 and subsequently completed a hematology and oncology fellowship at the University of Minnesota. During her fellowship, she also obtained a Master’s of Science in clinical research from the School of Public Health, University of Minnesota. Dr. Blaes joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota in 2009.

Dr. Blaes’ project was selected for the Aflac Young Investigator Award in AYA Oncology from numerous outstanding proposals that were submitted. The selection process is convened annually through the COG AYA Committee. Announcements for the award are posted annually on the Children’s Oncology Group website.