$300K grant helps student study lung cancer

When Tatyana Zukhov first came to the United States to study, she didn’t know the value of a research grant. After participating in a course at the National Cancer Institute, the USF student from Ukraine received her first grant for more than $300,000.

The grant from NCI allowed Zukhov, who is a scientist at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, to work with protein expression profiles to help detect lung cancer in its early stages.

Students in the five-week course were taught by lecturers and some of the most well-known specialists and experts from the fields of diagnosis, prevention and detection, Zukhov said.

“For me, it was extremely important because I met all these … experts in the field, which helped me to better understand the level of my knowledge,” said Zukhov, an independent investigator in Moffitt’s Molecular Screening Program. “I know a lot, but they are experts.

“I was so excited to listen to (the experts). It was wonderful to be there and be involved with other fellows that came from all over the world.”

Zukhov also attended the NCI’s course on the Principles and Practice of Cancer Prevention and Control in Baltimore.

Dr. Melvyn Tockman, the director of Moffitt’s Molecular Screening Program, said he nominated Zukhov for the program.

About 11 years ago, Tockman mentored Zukhov at Johns Hopkins University, Zukhov said. She followed him to USF six years ago to research early lung cancer detection.

“He taught me how to grow, and what grants were,” Zukhov said.

Zukhov’s knowledge of grants was once limited because Ukraine doesn’t offer grants. Zukhov said she hopes with the use of grants and her research, she can help medical studies in Ukraine.

Last year, she received the Established Researcher Award from USF President Judy Genshaft, which included a small grant to work with a DNA microray and perform gene- expression profiles.

While taking the course at NCI, Zukhov applied for another grant that would help combine the latest knowledge she obtained from the course with research from prior research grants.

“As she goes on to develop her next grant, she will need to use the skills that she has acquired at this program at NCI,” Tockman said.

Zukhov said she thought she would be overwhelmed with both the course and the lengthy grant application process. The commitment she made helped her learn a valuable lesson, she said.

“My life and my time were so concentrated, I felt like I could do so much more (than I usually do),” Zukhov said. “It’s important for me to understand that I can do this.”