About Dr. Claudia Benavente
Dr. Benavente studied Molecular Biotechnology Engineering at Universidad de Chile where her interest in pursuing cancer research first started. To further her studies, she came to the US to pursue a doctoral degree in Cancer Biology at The University of Arizona as a Fulbright scholar. She then moved on as a postdoctoral fellow to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN where she became familiar with childhood solid tumors. For the past two years, Professor Benavente has been an Assistant Professor at the Departments of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Developmental and Cell Biology at UCI.
Dr. Claudia Benavente
Dr. Benavente’s research focuses on understanding how pediatric tumors form in order to design new ways to treat them. Her research aims to understand how genes are normally controlled in developing tissues and how these processes (epigenetics) are perturbed to facilitate cancer to arise. This information guides her in the development of new therapies. Dr. Benavente focuses on retinoblastoma and osteosarcoma – the third and eighth most common forms of childhood cancers.
Her research has a direct effect on patients with these specific forms of cancers as her efforts focus on identifying novel therapeutic targets for these cancers. The gene at the center of her studies (RB1) is responsible for causing retinoblastoma and increasing osteosarcoma’s malignancy and is also commonly affected in virtually all cancers (pediatric and adult). As we learn how mutations in this gene – and the pathway it controls – cause cancer in children, we also increase our understanding of adult cancers and take a step closer to new cures.
Support Dr. Benavente’s research
Childhood cancers are rare diseases. The government and private foundations are more focused on funding research for adult cancers. Only 4% of US federal funding and less than 2% of the overall private and public funding is dedicated to developing drugs to treat childhood cancers, despite the estimate that in terms of productive life years saved, curing all childhood cancers would be equivalent to curing breast cancer (which receives 10% of U.S. federal funding). As the second leading cause of death in the US, cancer needs to be funded at high levels. Childhood cancers should not be forgotten. From a gel to study protein expression ($50) to sequencing the genome of a tumor sample ($1,200), every dollar brings us a step closer to finding cures! Help us create a cancer-free world today.
To donate to Professor Benavente’s research, make a check payable to “UCI Foundation” and write “Dr. Benavente’s research” in the memo. Please mail your check to:
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
University of California, Irvine 100 Theory, Suite 250
Irvine, CA 92697-5601
To make an online donation, contact Marilyn Huynh at email@example.com or (949) 824-6511.