ACS Grants $47 Million in Funding, Stand Up to Cancer Announces Innovation Awards, and more

Lawrence B. Gardner, MD, an assistant professor of medicine and pharmacology at New York University (NYU) Langone Health, died on March 27 at age 52. Dr. Gardner graduated from the Yale University School of Medicine and completed his fellowship at Johns Hopkins University. Beginning in 2011, he served as the program director of the hematology and medical oncology fellowship at NYU Langone Health, where he “consistently emphasized the subspecialty research and clinical training components of the program,” according to the institution.

He also ran the Gardner Lab and received multiple teaching awards from the fellows at NYU Langone Health. Dr. Gardner’s wife, Katie Sanders, died in January 2018. The Gardners are survived by their daughter Evie.

Source: The New York Times, April 10, 2018.

St. Baldrick’s Foundation Provides Funding for Pediatric Cancer Research

Alex Huang MD, PhD, and Yamilet Huerta, MD, of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, were awarded $186,405 in grants from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to conduct pediatric cancer research.

Dr. Huang, professor of pediatrics at Case Western and co-leader of the Hematopoietic and Immune Cancer Biology Program of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, received funding support for two students conducting pediatric oncology research projects in his laboratory through the foundation’s 2018 Summer Fellowship.

Dr. Huerta, a pediatric hematology/ oncology fellow at University Hospitals’ Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and a member of Dr. Huang’s laboratory, received a grant to fund research on the use of targeted immunotherapy to treat acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in future clinical trials.

Source: Case Western Reserve University news release, April 2, 2018.

American Cancer Society Grants More Than $47 Million for Cancer Research Funding

The American Cancer Society (ACS) announced funding for 110 grants to researchers at 72 U.S. institutions, totaling $47,624,000. The grants will go into effect July 1. Of the research projects receiving funding, the following focus on hematology:

  • Owen A. O’Connor, MD, PhD, Columbia University, New York
    Dr. O’Connor is working to move peripheral T-cell lymphomas to the forefront of translational cancer medicine. His lab invented and/or developed two of the three drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for this disease.
  • Mo Motamedi, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
    Dr. Motamedi’s research focuses on two challenges in cancer treatment: resistance to chemotherapy and disease recurrence. His lab will focus on the observation that a small number of non-dividing cancer cells originating from the primary tumor disperse throughout the body and remain in quiescence.

  • Catherine C. Smith, MD, University of California, San Francisco
    Dr. Smith aims to identify genes that lead to resistance to targeted therapies for AML with FLT3 mutations. Her team hopes to identify mutations that cause FLT3 resistance and identify strategies to overcome this.

  • Courtney E. Sullivan, MSN, University of Alabama at Birmingham
    Ms. Sullivan is developing measures of nursing quality and its influence on childhood-cancer outcomes worldwide. These global indicators could allow hospitals to collect information about nursing care and enhance nursing quality and outcomes for children, with the hopes of contributing to improving childhood-cancer survival.

Source: American Cancer Society press release, April 2, 2018.

Scripps Research Institute Receives NCI Funding for CLL Research

Christoph Rader, PhD, associate professor at The Scripps Research Institute in Florida, received a $2.875 million, five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute to develop antibody-drug conjugates for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).

“We want to attack the cancer without harming healthy cells and tissues,” said Dr. Rader. “To do this, we attach a highly potent drug to an antibody and then use the antibody to lead the drug payload to the cellular target.”

Dr. Rader’s team discovered a binding site on the surface of CLL lymphocytes – FCMR – which pulls antibodies into the cells. “This particular target is selectively expressed in CLL,” said Dr. Rader. His team includes Hans Renata, PhD, assistant professor, and William Roush, PhD, professor emeritus.

Source: The Scripps Research Institute press release, April 10, 2018.

Adam Smith Wins CAREER Award for Receptor Tyrosine Kinase Research

Adam W. Smith, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Akron in Ohio, received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation. This award supports early career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education.

Dr. Smith will receive $650,000 toward research into lipid regulation of receptor tyrosine kinases, which includes using advanced fluorescence methods to measure lipid-protein interactions in biologic membranes.

Dr. Smith’s goal is to develop a quantitative chemical model for the interface between plasma membrane lipids and receptor tyrosine kinases, which regulate cell growth and differentiation. These proteins are targeted by a new class of anti-cancer therapeutics.

Source: University of Akron press release, March 29, 2018.

Stand Up To Cancer Announces “Innovation in Collaboration” Award Winners

Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) selected five research teams as the 2018 winners of its Phillip A. Sharp Innovation in Collaboration Award. Each team includes members of the SU2C research community and will receive $1.25 million to support collaborative research projects. This year’s winners were:

  • Claire F. Friedman, MD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and Marta Łuksza, PhD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai “Defining Effective T-Cell Response in Viral and Non-Viral Gynecologic Cancers”
  • Raul Rabadan, PhD, Columbia University, and Dan A. Landau, MD, PhD, Weill Cornell Medicine and New York Genome Center “Cupid-seq – high throughput transcriptomic spatial mapping of immune-tumor interactions in the micro-environment”
  • E. John Wherry, PhD, Institute for Immunology at the University of Pennsylvania, and Matthew Hellmann, MD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center “Interrogating impact of epigenetic modifiers on durable reprogramming of exhausted CD8 T cells in patients with NSCLC treated with PD-1 blockade”
  • Trevor Pugh, PhD, Princess Margaret Cancer Center in Toronto, and David Barrett, MD, PhD, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia “Characterizing immuno-variability in children following standard of care treatment to enable precision assignment to immunotherapy trials”
  • Michal Sheffer, PhD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Hugo J.G. Snippert, PhD, University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands “Studies of colorectal cancer patient-derived organoids to validate candidate biomarkers of resistance to natural killer cells”

The award is named for Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, institute professor at the Koch Institute for Integrated Cancer Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in honor of his emphasis on collaborative research. Dr. Sharp is chair of the SU2C Scientific Advisory Committee.

Source: Stand Up To Cancer press release, March 28, 2018.