Roswell Park Cancer Institute, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute Awarded $11 Million SPORE Grant

NCI Grant will Fund Innovative, Multidisciplinary Research for Ovarian Cancer
Monday, October 7, 2013
  • Ovarian cancer survivor, Kathleen Maxian attends the SPORE Press Conference with Lara Sucheston, PhD, Kirsten B. Moysich, PhD, MS, U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins and Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, FRCOG, FACOG

BUFFALO, NY — Survival rates remain poor for women diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer—and more than 75 percent of patients fall into that category, with the disease claiming 14,030 lives each year. Now, with more than $11 million in funding from the National Cancer Institute, Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI), in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), will embark on an aggressive, multi-pronged search for ways to prevent and cure it.

Distributed over five years, the funds will come through a Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant. The research team, led by Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, Principal Investigator of the RPCI/UPCI Ovarian Cancer SPORE grant, will study novel immunotherapy approaches for the treatment of and risk assessment for ovarian cancer. The research itself will encompass four projects: three clinical trials evaluating newly developed immunotherapies and one epidemiological study looking for ways to reduce risk in women at high risk of developing ovarian cancer.

“The NCI has recognized that our research has very high potential for changing the lives of ovarian cancer patients around the world,” says Dr. Odunsi, who is Chair of Gynecologic Oncology and Director of the Center for Immunotherapy at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Dr. Odunsi is recognized worldwide as a leader in the field of immunotherapy.

The RPCI/UPCI Ovarian Cancer SPORE program is unique among the others because it will concentrate exclusively on harnessing the immune system. The overall goal is to prolong the survival of ovarian cancer patients through innovative translational research.

October 7, 2013 press conference announcing the RPCI-UPCI Ovarian Cancer Spore grant featured speakers Dr. Kunle Odunsi, Dr. Donald Trump, Dr. Candace Johnson and U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins.

Explains Dr. Odunsi, “There’s a need to develop novel and effective therapies that are nontoxic and that harness the body’s immune response to fight ovarian cancer. This research is a combination of all the understandings that we have built for more than a decade. Whether a patient is newly diagnosed, in remission, or has suffered relapse of ovarian cancer, in this SPORE we have something for you.”

This SPORE grant is the fifth ovarian cancer SPORE award in the nation, and is the first ovarian cancer SPORE grant at a cancer center in New York State. Competition for the grant is highly competitive, requiring institutions to document strong collaboration between eminent scientists and clinicians as well as outstanding programs in translational research, which speeds discoveries from the laboratory to the clinic.

“Over one hundred years ago Roswell Park Cancer Institute gave modern cancer research to the world and today’s announcement of this highly competitive grant demonstrates Roswell Park’s continued role as leader in cancer research and treatment,” says Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY), a member of the Congressional Cancer Caucus. “Anyone who has stepped through those doors, either as a patient or a visitor, understands and appreciates how special Roswell Park is and how fortunate we are to have this place here in Western New York. Roswell Park Cancer Institute is home to hope for so many, and with this grant we aim to provide new hope to many more ovarian cancer patients.”

The research that will result from this funding is expected to yield additional benefits through the recruitment of new investigators engaged in ovarian cancer research.

The Ovarian Cancer SPORE Co-Principal Investigators are Kirsten B. Moysich, PhD, Professor in the Department of Immunology and Professor of Oncology in the Department of Cancer Prevention and Control at Roswell Park, and Robert P. Edwards, MD, executive Vice Chair of Gynecologic Services and Director of the Ovarian Cancer Center for Excellence, Gynecologic Program at Magee-Womens Hospital of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC).

To learn more about this SPORE award, visit: or call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877 275-7724).


About RPCI:
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, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or email Follow Roswell Park on Facebook and Twitter.

About UPCI:
As the only NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center in western Pennsylvania, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) is a recognized leader in providing innovative cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment; bio-medical research; compassionate patient care and support; and community-based outreach services. UPCI, a partner with University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Cancer Center, investigators are world-renowned for their work in clinical and basic cancer research.

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