ACS Funds Young Brain Cancer Researcher in Maine

Kyuson Yun, Ph.D., cancer researcher

This year, almost 1.6 million people will be diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. including more than 87,000 people in New England.  For the families of these people, there is no greater priority than fighting cancer, and the best way to do that is with more cancer research.  The more research that is funded, the more we increase our knowledge of how we can prevent cancer, improve early detection, and create more effective treatment protocols and cancer drugs.

Kyuson Yun, Ph.D., is a cancer researcher at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, ME.  She is also a P.I. – no, not a private investigator – a Principal Investigator or lead scientist of a specific research group at the institute.  She is currently funded by the American Cancer Society with a $720,000 four-year research grant.

Dr. Yun’s lab focuses on two kinds of brain cancers: medulloblastoma, the most common pediatric brain tumor; and glioblastomas, the most aggressive and common form of brain cancer in adults, which is currently incurable. In her lab, Dr. Yun and her staff investigate the role of cancer stem cells in brain tumors.

Dr. Yun was born in South Korea and moved with her family to California when she was 13 years old.  She received her B.S. in biology from Caltech in 1989 and her Ph.D. in biology from Caltech in 1997.  Prior to coming to The Jackson Laboratory, she worked as an Instructor in the Department of Genetics at Dartmouth College.

On a personal level, her desire to find a cure for cancer goes beyond her love of science – it also has a personal connection.  Dr. Yun’s father died from lung cancer, and her older brother is a cancer survivor.

Dr. Yun lives with her husband and two sons in Bar Harbor, Maine.  She is a strong supporter of the America Cancer Society and has spoken at her local Relay For Life in Ellsworth, and at survivor dinners and conferences in Maine.

“I am very grateful to the Society for their funding of my work,” says Yun. “In the current funding environment in which NIH is funding less than 1 in 10 research proposals, support from individuals and foundations plays a critical role in sustaining biomedical research in the U.S.  For me, personally, funding from the American Cancer Society means much more than just research dollars. I am relatively new to cancer research and having the support from one of the most prestigious cancer research organizations gives me the confidence to move forward in new directions, seeking novel approaches to cure cancer.”

To learn more about Dr. Yun and her research, read “A day in the life of a doc”, a story published in 2009 before she was awarded the ACS research grant.