UNM Researcher Awarded Highly Coveted NIH Grant



July 18, 2008

Contact: Lauren Cruse (505) 272-3690

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Dr. Karen Cowden Dahl has received a grant for close to $1 million to support her work as a basic cancer researcher at the University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy, UNM Health Sciences Center.

The K99/R00 grant, also called the Howard Temin Pathway to Independence Award in Cancer Research is one of most coveted grants in Cowden Dahl’s field. Funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the grant will be used over a period of five years and is there to help postdoctoral researchers transition to independent investigators.

Cowden Dahl is currently mentoring under Dr. Laurie Hudson, professor at the UNM College of Pharmacy. Hudson’s lab focuses on cancer research and Cowden Dahl is exploring the progression of ovarian cancer.

A 1996 Sandia High School graduate, Cowden Dahl knew at an early age she wanted to pursue a career in the health sciences. Her father, Robert Cowden, is a 1974 graduate of the UNM College of Pharmacy and her mother, Sandra Cowden, graduated from the UNM College of Nursing in 1972.

Cowden Dahl’s mother died of cancer when Cowden Dahl was seven years old. After seeing her mother’s battle, Cowden Dahl took an interest in cancer research and wanted to apply her personal experience to her ultimate career goal as a cancer researcher.

Ovarian cancer is the fifth deadliest cancer in women because it spreads to other internal organs making it difficult to treat.

With no exact symptoms, ovarian cancer is hard to detect in its early stages, but if detected early, ovarian cancer is very treatable. The longer it stays undetected, the more advanced the cancer becomes and the harder it is to treat.

Cowden Dahl wants to research that progression from the early stages of ovarian cancer to the advanced stages. She wants to explore what changes occur in the disease that make it so difficult to cure once it reaches advanced stages.

Cowden Dahl received her bachelor’s in Cell and Molecular Biology from Texas Tech University in 1999. She then went on to earn her PhD in 2004 at the University of Pennsylvania.

Cowden Dahl plans to stay at UNM as a researcher and become a tenure faculty member at the College of Pharmacy.

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