2019 Researcher of the Year – Rising Star
Basic Life Sciences
Laura M. Sanchez, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy
A mass spectrometrist who has built a highly collaborative, interdisciplinary translational research program since her arrival at UIC in 2015, Laura Sanchez embodies the definition of a ‘rising star’. She has successfully competed for national funding from both NSF (Co-I) and NIH (PI), as well as from the Chicago Biomedical Consortium. The scope of Dr. Sanchez’s projects which include biofilm models of the microbiome, drug discovery of novel natural products, and mass spectrometry imaging of ovarian cancer, illustrates the breadth and flexibility of her work. In collaborations with others from UIC COP and computer science, she is working to create an innovative bioinformatics tool to classify and mine microbial libraries for drug discovery. Her research in the ovarian cancer arena has the potential to map molecular signatures, advancing detection and elucidating which environments drive initiation, promotion, progression and metastasis. It is hoped that this groundwork will lead to discovery of points of intervention. Over the past 4 years, Dr. Sanchez has published 18 peer reviewed articles and earned an h-index of 14! Comments on one of her most recent articles highlighting new mass spec techniques that track messenger molecules traveling between migrating cancer cells and ovarian tissue described the tool as “a beautiful example of developing an analytical method to go after a really important question in cancer biology”. Her significant contributions to her field(s) of research, her outreach to the broader community through her service commitments, publications, and invited talks coupled with her exemplary record of securing outside funding make her a true rising star and a deserving recipient of the 2019 UIC Rising Star award in the field of Basic Life Sciences.