Researcher Spotlight

Researcher Spotlight: Hannah Isles, PhD

Weill Cornell Medicine

Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). The recent
identification of DLBCL patient subgroups featuring distinct DNA mutation profiles have provided researchers with new opportunities to treat DLBCL using more targeted therapies. Dr. Isles’ interest lies in how the DNA mutations that occur in the “Cluster 1” or “BN2” DLBCL subgroup can make B-cells, the immune cells responsible for generating antibodies to help protect us from infection and re-infection, switch from healthy functional cells to dangerous cancer cells. Her LRF research project strives to understand how a protein frequently mutated in C1/BN2 patients functions normally and how its mutation causes B-cells to become malignant. She is also investigating how co-occurring mutations found in patients from the C1/BN2 subgroup cooperate to cause DLBCL. “From our study, we hope to identify therapeutic vulnerabilities that can be harnessed to treat C1/BN2 DLBCL patients,” Dr. Isles says.

Dr. Isles is a Postdoctoral Associate in Medicine in the lab of LRF Scientific Board Member (SAB) and grantee Ari Melnick, MD at Weill Cornell Medicine, where she is working to establish her research niche in the field of DLBCL and marginal zone lymphoma (MZL) biology. After receiving her PhD from the University of Sheffield, UK, she decided to pursue cancer research in the field of hematological malignancies. In search of a mentor, she found Dr. Ari Melnick, whose contributions have made a significant impact in hematological malignancies. “I aim to expand on the skills I have gained thus far in my career, being an asset to the Melnick lab, which is at the forefront of the field, keeping up to date with exciting new techniques, and using innovative ideas to drive advances in the field,” she says

After completing her Postdoctoral Fellowship grant, Dr. Isles aspires to become an independent researcher. “Having the LRF fellowship grant will help me demonstrate that I can ask my own independent research questions and deliver on them within a deadline,” she says. “I find it extremely motivating to know that the work I carry out during my career will hopefully contribute towards better treatment options and increasing our understanding of the disease that impacts the lives of so many people.”