David Largaespada, Ph.D. is a professor in the Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development and Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota.
For many cancer researchers, being selected by the American Cancer Society, as one of two researchers in the nation recognized for gamechanging work is a dream.
For University of Minnesota professor and recipient of the prestigious American Cancer Society Research Professor Award, David Largaespada, Ph.D., it is reality.
Largaespada’s research is used to understand the genetic basis of many cancers, including brain tumors, carcinomas of the liver and gastrointestinal tract, leukemias, and sarcomas. For this work, he has been named an ACS Research Professor.
“Having all of the hard work my team and I have put into our research validated by such an influential organization is a great feeling,” says Largaespada. “What I’m really excited about is, thanks to the support from the ACS, being able to take our research in a new direction.”
What started out as a curiosity about the natural world has taken Largaespada into uncharted scientific territory, ultimately changing the way scientists identify and understand cancer genes. Dr. Largaespada uses a tool called “Sleeping Beauty,” to detect cancer genes hiding inside cells in the body. This method of detection is used by researchers to learn how cancers spread and how drugs and treatments impact infected cells.
Since becoming a faculty member in the Masonic Cancer Center, David Largaespada has moved up in ranks from being an associate professor to a full professor, leading the charge on various research programs, and even taking on the role of Associate Director of Basic Sciences.
Largaespada’s firm belief in collaboration and willingness to incorporate new approaches into science has resulted in the development of innovative technologies, as well as independent researchers who are following Largaespada’s trek to the top. More than half of Largaespada’s students have gone on to run their own research labs or have taken faculty positions at the U.
“Knowing I am contributing to the field of cancer research by bringing new and outstanding minds to it is a gratifying part of my job,” says Largaespada. “It is very satisfying to see my trainees move on and become independent researchers.”
Largaespada’s unfettered attraction to exploring the unknown, creative approach to research, and dedication to searching for a cure has led the ACS to also deem him an “outstanding mid-career investigator”.
We would simply call him a “gamechanger,” and there is no denying how #UMNProud we are to have him leading the charge for cancer research.
For more Academic Health Center Gamechangers, visit the Health Talk blog next week!