Stavroula Sofou Awarded Academy of Athens Top Cancer Research Award

Headshot of Stavroula Sofou. She has short brown hair, dark eyes, and light-medium skin tone. She is wearing a black scoop neck shirt and is standing in front of laboratory equipment.

The Academy of Athens, Greece’s highest research establishment, has awarded the 2023 Dionisopoulou Prize by Achilles and Ekaterina Dionisopoulou, an award given to original research on the treatment of cancer, to Johns Hopkins engineer and Greek native Stavroula Sofou for her research on simultaneously targeting many regions of solid tumors using the same cancer therapeutic but with different delivery methods.

Tumors are complex structures with diverse microenvironments, including differences in blood supply, cell density, and composition. These variations can impact how drugs are delivered, absorbed, and distributed within the tumor tissue. This is a major reason a treatment can fail because the therapeutic cannot reach and destroy cancer cells in different locations of the tumor. Sofou, INBT associate researcher and professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, along with her team, explained how their “transport cocktail” strategy of using different delivery methods with the same therapeutic can overcome these variations in drugs distribution in their published article in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine. In their studies, the team observed improvements in preventing the tumor from further growth and metastasis development.

“It is a great honor. especially because it is from the only academy of my country,” Sofou said. “This is a general engineering approach that has a chance of assisting and improving many current therapy protocols. it is not about the chemistry but about the physicochemical properties of the carriers and the treatment design.”