Checking in with Past YIA Recipient Dr. Weiyun Ai

Sep 20, 2010

September 2010: ASCO Connection recently followed up with 2005 recipient of the ASCO Cancer Foundation Young Investigator Award (YIA) supported by the Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO)—Weiyun Z. Ai, MD, PhD, of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). The YIA provides funding to young oncologists beginning their careers who may not have the full extent of resources available to them that more established researchers do. The original idea for JCO to sponsor a YIA came from George Canellos, MD, during his 1993 to 1994 tenure as ASCO's president to create an opportunity for the Journal to encourage researchers just starting out.

In the Q&A that follows, Dr. Ai provides an update on her award-winning research project: “Phase I/II Study of Intratumoral Injection of CpG 7909, a TLR9 Agonist, Combined With Local Radiation in Recurrent Low-Grade Lymphomas.”

Weiyun Z. Ai, MD, PhD

AC: What were the outcomes of your research on the “Phase I/II Study of Intratumoral Injection of CpG 7909, a TLR9 Agonist, Combined With Local Radiation in Recurrent Low-Grade Lymphomas”
Dr. Ai: This clinical trial was to examine a novel immunotherapy strategy—in situ vaccination. I am happy to report that we have now completed this study and the manuscript has been accepted by JCO, which we are very excited about. We have seen clinical response among 15 treated patients. More importantly, we detected anti-tumor immune responses in some patients.

AC: How has The ASCO Cancer Foundation YIA, supported by JCO, impacted your career?
Dr. Ai: The YIA not only provided the support for protected research time, but also inspired me to continue a career in translational sciences. In addition, The ASCO Cancer Foundation YIA is so widely recognized, which has helped me expand my network among other researchers.

AC: What are you currently working on?
Dr. Ai: After a fellowship at Stanford, I joined the faculty at UCSF. Currently, I am working on a couple of trials in lymphoma and trying to establish myself as an independent investigator. I found my previous experiences with the JCO-sponsored YIA extremely beneficial in my pursuit.

AC: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Dr. Ai: The YIA has been instrumental in my career development; I would like to take this opportunity to thank The ASCO Cancer Foundation and JCO for their outstanding effort in grooming the next generating of oncology researchers.

Learn more about The ASCO Cancer Foundation Young Investigator Award (YIA), which has helped launch the careers of Dr. Ai and more than 600 other researchers since 1984, online at

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