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CSHL congratulates Sontag Foundation Distinguished Scientist Award recipient Dr. Hongwu Zheng

Hongwu Zheng
Hongwu Zheng

Award supports research to treat brain tumors currently resistant to all therapies

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, NY — Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) congratulates brain cancer biologist Dr. Hongwu Zheng on receiving a four-year, $600,000 Distinguished Scientist Award from the Sontag Foundation. Interested in finding an effective therapy for the most common and lethal brain tumor known as malignant glioma, Dr. Zheng is investigating how these cancers emerge from normal neuronal cells and transform into metastatic tumors.

“Dr. Zheng is an inspiring example of an early-career scientist pursuing innovative basic research that I am confident will have important clinical applications,” said CSHL Research Director David L. Spector. “CSHL is committed to providing young researchers with an environment that encourages innovation and we are grateful to philanthropic organizations like the Sontag Foundation for their support.”

Dr. Zheng is capitalizing on recent advancements in cancer research to look for novel therapeutic methods of halting the growth of malignant gliomas. Work from his lab and others has demonstrated that gliomas are made up of genetically mutant cells that are in some ways similar to stem cells: they can change into a host of other cell types, although ones in which normal restraints are bypassed or rendered inoperative, allowing a tumor to grow and spread. Dr. Zheng has devised a method to look for potentially reversible events inside brain cells that enable them to depart from their normal growth path and become “stem cell-like.” Cellular proteins involved in this transformation could be targets for new drugs to fight malignant glioma.

“We were impressed with the quality of Dr. Zheng’s background and training as well as the importance of his work related to the formation of gliomas. Supporting him at a research institution as renowned and unique as the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory should, therefore, pay great dividends in our fight against this devastating disease,” said Frederick B. Sontag, President of The Sontag Foundation.

Written by: Public Affairs | | 516-367-8455

About The Sontag Foundation

Since 2002, The Sontag Foundation has awarded $48 million in grants in the following areas of interest: brain cancer research conducted throughout the United States and Canada, rheumatoid arthritis research conducted in the United States, and programs fostering the self-sufficiency of individuals in a seven-county area of Northeast Florida. For more information, visit

About Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Founded in 1890, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has shaped contemporary biomedical research and education with programs in cancer, neuroscience, plant biology and quantitative biology. Home to eight Nobel Prize winners, the private, not-for-profit Laboratory employs 1,100 people including 600 scientists, students and technicians. The Meetings & Courses Program annually hosts more than 12,000 scientists. The Laboratory’s education arm also includes an academic publishing house, a graduate school and the DNA Learning Center with programs for middle and high school students and teachers. For more information, visit