Jan Pencik, PhD
Salk Institute for Biological Studies
La Jolla, United States
2015 ICIS-Sidney & Joan Pestka Graduate Award Winner
Jan Pencik is a NOMIS Center Postdoctoral Fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies (La Jolla, US). Pencik is originally from Brno, Czech Republic. He obtained his master’s degree in biochemistry from the Palacky University (Olomouc, Czech Republic) before being accepted as a doctoral student in the Molecular Signal Transduction Program at the Medical University of Vienna (Austria). There, he joined the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Cancer Research, where he completed his PhD dissertation research on the development of novel prostate cancer models. His dissertation study has led to the seminal discovery of IL-6/STAT3 signaling as a major pathway that regulates senescence and tumor growth in prostate cancer. As a NOMIS Fellow, Pencik is focusing on non-small cell lung cancer, the most common type of lung cancer. He is investigating a gene called STK11 (also known as LKB1) that is mutated or deleted in more than a third of patients. Recent work has shown that STK11 alterations are primarily responsible for loss of response to immunotherapy, which is a pivotal form of cancer therapy that is aimed at stimulating a person’s natural anti-tumor immunity. Importantly, Pencik’s work will serve to identify some of the most critical proteins linked to LKB1 that regulate a loss of therapeutic efficacy, providing valuable insights for designing optimal therapeutic strategies tailored toward hard-to-treat non-small cell lung tumors.