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Ph.D. Candidate At Sylvester Receives Prestigious F31 NCI Grant

Investing In Our People For The Future

Research will focus on the relationship between tyrosine kinases and cancer.

Skye Montoya, a Ph.D.

Skye Montoya, a Ph.D. candidate in cancer biology at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, has received a prestigious F31 grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The NCI Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA for Individual Predoctoral Fellows will provide $47,000 a year for three years to support tuition, conferences, and other educational opportunities.

Montoya is a researcher in Dr. Justin Taylor’s lab, which studies blood cancer mutations and how these can be targeted with novel therapies. Her research is focused on a group of enzymes, called tyrosine kinases, which play a major role in many cancers. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors can be effective anti-cancer treatments; however, eventually, cancers can learn to resist. Montoya and others in the Taylor lab want to understand why .

“I enjoy the thrill of figuring it out and then seeing the translational component of it, working with patients in clinical trials,” said Montoya. “I study signaling pathways, and there are a million different ways it could work. It's like trying to figure out a puzzle without the picture on the box.”

Originally from Smyrna, Georgia, just north of Atlanta, Montoya was in a biomedical research magnet program at her high school before going to Kennesaw State University. Earlier this year, she co-authored a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine that identified potential resistance mechanisms to an emerging cancer therapy.

Montoya expects to graduate in spring 2024, but there’s still the matter of writing her dissertation. After that, she hopes to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship in another cancer lab .