Latest Grants Will Help Roswell Park Engage Underrepresented Students in Science, Improve Treatments for Cancer

Researchers at cancer center successfully competed for $1.76 million in new funding from federal agencies, private funders
Thursday, January 29, 2015

BUFFALO, N.Y. — New and promising projects proposed by Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) researchers have recently attracted $1.76 million in outside investment to the Western New York region. The grants include competitive National Cancer Institute (NCI) grants and subcontracts, as well as awards from private funders. They cover a variety of endeavors, ranging from summer internships for students underrepresented in scientific fields to ambitious studies aimed at improving cancer treatments for lymphoma and ovarian, lung, kidney and prostate cancers.

The grant awardees and descriptions of the funded research are as follows:

Richard Hershberger, PhD, MBA, Chief Academic Officer, was awarded a renewal of special funding through the NCI’s Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) program, a funding mechanism that supplements the Cancer Center Support Grant Roswell Park received with renewal of its designation as an NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center in 2014. This five-year grant for $642,000 will support annual summer cancer research internship experiences at Roswell Park for six college students and eight high-school students from demographic groups underrepresented in science and medicine. This grant will improve access to career and educational experiences for these students, informing their decision-making about careers in cancer research and strengthening their applications to graduate training programs.

Yue Wu, PhD, Assistant Professor of Oncology in the Department of Urology, received a two-year, $419,884 NCI grant for a project to investigate whether dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate deprivation is an effective strategy for preventing the progression of prostate cancer. Dr. Wu will also explore how prostate cancer recurs after the treatment approach referred to as chemical castration and work to identify new targets for treatment.

Chukwumere Nwogu, MD, PhD, FACS, Attending Surgeon and Associate Professor of Oncology in the Department of Thoracic Surgery, received a two-year, $406,247 award from the NCI to study the ability of a new compound to simultaneously detect small lung cancer deposits using a positron emission tomography (PET) scan and treat them with laser energy. “As this program succeeds, it could dramatically reduce disease recurrence after treatment and improve long-term survival for lung cancer patients,” says Dr. Nwogu.

Carl Morrison, MD, DVM, Executive Director of the Center for Personalized Medicine, received a two-year, $160,000 subcontract award from the University of Pittsburgh, part of a larger project from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to contribute to the National Mesothelioma Virtual Bank (NMVB). He and colleagues from Roswell Park will help to expand the NMVB, providing archival mesothelioma biospecimens and constructing tissue microarrays to be used by researchers to gain a better understanding of mesothelioma.

Willie Underwood, MD, MPH, MSci, Associate Professor of Oncology in the Department of Urology and the Office of Cancer Health Disparities Research (OCHDR), and Deborah Erwin, PhD, OCHDR Director, received a one-year, $52,027 administrative supplement from the NCI’s Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities to create a Patient Action Team comprised of minority patients from Roswell Park to assess and enhance community-outreach materials and programming.

Eric Kauffman, MD, Assistant Professor of Oncology in the departments of Urology and Cancer Genetics, received a two-year, $30,000 Young Investigator Grant from the American Urological Association for work that aims to improve risk stratification for patients with renal-cell carcinoma, identifying those who would benefit most from early systemic therapy. His project will test the central hypothesis that circulating-tumor-cell detection in the perioperative setting of clinically localized clear-cell renal carcinoma provides a reliable surrogate for metastatic relapse.

Matthew Barth, MD, Assistant Professor of Oncology in the Department of Pediatrics, and Martin Brecher, MD, Waldemar J. Kaminski Chair in Pediatrics, received a two-year, $30,000 subcontract from New York Medical College in Valhalla, N.Y., part of a larger parent grant from Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. to investigate the novel targeted therapy ibutinib (Imbruvica) in an effort improve treatment of the most common non-Hodgkin lymphoma types seen among children, adolescents and young adults.

Lyudmila Burdelya, PhD, Assistant Professor of Oncology in the Department of Cell Stress Biology, received a six-month, $24,263 subcontract from Buffalo BioLabs, part of a larger NCI award to develop a new, structurally modified non-immunogenic version of Entolimod (CBLB502) with immune-stimulating and radioprotective properties to be used to enhance the anticancer effect of radiotherapy and reduce unwanted side effects.

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The mission of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1898, RPCI is one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit www.roswellpark.org, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or email askrpci@roswellpark.org. Follow Roswell Park on Facebook and Twitter.

Media Contact: 

Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager
716-845-8593; annie.deck-miller@roswellpark.org