A cancer researcher at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) has received a seven-year, $7.9 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to advance his cancer research.

Ze’ev Ronai, scientific director of the institute’s La Jolla campus and professor of its cancer center, also received the National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator Award for “breakthrough level” of his cancer research.

Ronai has made many major contributions to the understanding of cancer over the last 35 years. Early in his career, he and his team developed a sensitive test allowing detection of cancer-driving mutations present at very low frequency, providing the initial grounds for today’s precision medicine, according to a SBP news release.

Most recently, his research has identified new drug targets that may improve the outcome of patients with drug-resistant melanoma tumors.

The NCI award will allow Ronai’s team the freedom to perform more ambitious studies and take the time to translate basic discoveries into the clinic, according to the release.