Chemist Wins Research Funds

By Michael Seele
Chronicle Editor

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has named Asst. Prof. Marc Snapper (Chemistry) a 1996 "Breast Cancer Scholar," one of 19 scientists from 10 institutions so honored.

Snapper received the award, which comes with a $60,000 research grant, at a Nov. 16 ceremony. He was chosen for the promise his research holds for finding improved breast cancer therapies.

Patricia Brennan, director of the Breast Cancer Scholars program in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, said the awards are aimed at Massachusetts scientists in the formative years of their careers. "We want to encourage young scientists to go into breast cancer research by providing them with seed money, so they can eventually apply for larger grants from the federal government," she said. Applications are put through a peer review process to determine the winners, she added.

Snapper's work focuses on improving the drug Taxol, which is used to treat breast cancer patients. Snapper creates variants of the drug and tests the ability of each to kill breast cancer cells he has grown in the lab. Though his research in this area has been limited during his first three years on the Chemistry faculty, he said this grant will enable him to expand the effort.

Breast cancer, Snapper noted, "is an epidemic in Massachusetts. Nationally, one in eight women will get breast cancer, but that rate is higher in Massachusetts. It kills more women than any other cancer and it's just getting worse with time."

Snapper said the state made a "brilliant move by investing in experts in Massachusetts who are fighting this disease. Hopefully, it will allow us to make an impact in this area."

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