Roswell Park Researchers Garner Nearly $2.8 Million for Studies on Origins, Effects and Treatment of Cancer

Grants include nearly $1.7 million in Roswell Park Alliance Foundation funds awarded through competitive process
Friday, March 3, 2017

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute have received $2.77 million in new funding from federal agencies, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation for projects to advance cancer research and treatment.

“This is another incredible display of the depth of extraordinary research happening in this community at Roswell Park,” says Congressman Brian Higgins, Co-Chair of the House of Representatives Cancer Caucus. “The awards, including over $834,000 in federal funding, demonstrate a confidence in the work of local researchers and inspire hope that the clues to better treatments and cures will be discovered right here in Western New York.”

Two Roswell Park researchers were awarded competitive grants from federal agencies:

James Mohler, MD, Associate Director, Senior Vice President for Translational Research and Chair of Urology

James Mohler, MD, Associate Director, Senior Vice President for Translational Research and Chair of Urology, received a three-year, $660,315 award from the Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Research Program for a project that aims to determine the pathways prostate cancer uses to produce its own growth hormones that allow the cancer to survive and grow in spite of standard hormone therapy. Attacking these newly recognized pathways may improve survival of men with advanced prostate cancer, Dr. Mohler notes.

Eugene Kandel, PhD, Assistant Professor of Oncology in the Department of Cell Stress Biology

Eugene Kandel, PhD, Assistant Professor of Oncology in the Department of Cell Stress Biology, received a two-year, $174,100 grant from the National Cancer Institute for his work to determine which genes control a cancer cell’s sensitivity to oxygen and nutrient deprivation. Several Roswell Park researchers were awarded funding from foundations.

Christine Ambrosone, PhD, Professor of Oncology and Senior Vice President of Population Sciences, and Chi-Chen Hong, PhD, Associate Professor of Oncology in the Department of Cancer Prevention and Control, received a one-year, $250,000 grant from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation for a project that aims to study why some women are more likely than others to develop aggressive breast tumors that lack the estrogen receptor and have poorer outcomes. The project will focus on associations between parity, or childbirth status, with and without breastfeeding, and expression of the FOXA1 gene in breast tumors from more than 1,000 patients.

The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation, the nonprofit organization that raises funds and manages donations to Roswell Park Cancer Institute, awarded 32 research projects a total of $1.69 million.

“We are incredibly grateful for the generous donations from our supporters that enable the Alliance Foundation to fund the most promising research initiatives and compassionate patient-care programs at Roswell Park,” says Roswell Park President & CEO Candace S. Johnson, PhD. “These grants were made possible by donations made to events like The Ride For Roswell, the Goin’ Bald for Bucks program and personal contributions from passionate supporters of our fight against cancer. This continued support from our community allows us to advance our mission and provide the best possible treatment and care for our patients.”

The projects recently funded by the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation:

  • Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, FRCOG, FACOG, Deputy Director, Chair and M. Steven Piver Professor of Gynecology Oncology and Executive Director of the Center For Immunotherapy, received $300,000 for “PHI pilot of personalized peptide vac and polyic-LC with FLT3 ligand.”
  • Anurag Singh, MD, Professor of Oncology in the Department of Radiation Medicine, received $50,000 for the project “Utilizing radiation to enhance the immune response in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck” and an additional $25,000 to study the “Use of radiation to enhance immune response in lung cancer.”
  • Joseph Skitzki, MD, FACS, Associate Professor of Oncology and Chair of the Melanoma/Sarcoma Disease Site Research Group, received $50,000 for the project “Melanoma DSRG-PDX resource.” Dr. Skitzki will also be lead researcher on “Investigation into the efficacy of the curaxin (CBL0137) for metastatic lung sarcoma,” a project awarded $25,000.
  • Yuesheng Zhang, MD, PhD, Professor of Oncology and member of the Chemoprevention and Genitourinary cancers programs, received $50,000 for the project “Preclinical evaluation of recombinant human protein against cetuximab resistant colorectal tumors" and $20,000 to study the “Role of PEPD in regulating p53 and antagonizing ERBB1/ERBB2.”
  • Moshim Kukar, MD, Assistant Professor of Oncology in the Department of Surgical Oncology, received $71,215 for “Double arm study of pyloric drainage procedure for minimally-invasive esophagectomy.”
  • Gokul Das, PhD, Associate Professor of Oncology in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, received $50,000 for the project “Estrogen receptor beta-p53 signaling axis: a new therapeutic against triple-negative breast cancer.”
  • Sai Yendamuri, MD, FACS, Professor of Oncology and Chair of the Department of Thoracic Surgery, received $50,000 for the project “Comparison of molecular characteristics and therapeutic response of esophageal adenocarcinoma with corresponding patient derived models of cancer.”
  • Renuka Iyer, MD, Professor of Oncology and Co-Director of the Liver and Pancreas Tumor Center, received $50,000 for the project “Hepatic artery infusion FACT complex targeting drug CBL0137 on hepatocellular carcinoma.”
  • Anna Woloszynska-Read, PhD, Assistant Professor of Oncology in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, received $50,000 for the project “Neoadjuvant epigenetic therapy with oral decitabine/tetrahydrouridine in patients with transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder undergoing a cystectomy.”
  • Eric Kauffman, MD, Assistant Professor of Oncology in the Department of Urology, received $50,000 for the project “Decoding the molecular and cellular landscape of the metastatic small renal tumor.”
  • Kent Nastiuk, PhD, Assistant Professor of Oncology in the departments of Cancer Genetics and Urology, received $50,000 for the project “Adaptive therapy resistance in prostate cancer patients receiving androgen deprivation plus radiation therapies.”
  • Kirsten Moysich, PhD, MS, Distinguished Professor of Oncology in the Department of Cancer Prevention and Control, received $50,000 for the project “A feasibility study of the role of the oral, vaginal and gastrointestinal microbiomes in ovarian cancer prognosis.”
  • George Chen, MD, Assistant Professor of Oncology, received $50,000 for the project “Is the epithelial to mesenchymal transition a new pathophysiologic mechanism for chronic GvHD?”
  • Kara Kelly, MD, Professor and Chair of Pediatric Oncology, and Elizabeth Gage Bouchard, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Cancer Prevention and Control, received $50,000 to support the project “A comprehensive assessment of oral chemotherapy adherence in pediatric ALL.”
  • Junko Matsuzaki, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Center for Immunotherapy, together with Dr. Odunsi, received a $50,000 grant for the research project “Development of the most effective adoptive T cell therapy platform utilizing CD4+ T cells.”
  • Toru Ouchi, PhD, Professor in the Department of Cancer Genetics, received a $50,000 grant for the project “Regulating Cancer Susceptibility by Metabolic and Radiation Oxidative Stress by A Novel H2AX Function.”
  • Kevin Eng, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, received $50,000 to support the project “The Familial Ovarian Cancer Update Study (FOCUS).”
  • Jianmin Zhang, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Cancer Genetics, received a grant of $50,000 to support his project “The dysfunction of hippo pathway effector-TAZ in breast cancer.”
  • David Goodrich, PhD, Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics and Grace Dy, MD, Chief of Thoracic Oncology and Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, received $50,000 to support the project “Histologic transformation mediates NSCLC resistance to EGFR TKI therapy.”
  • Lynda Beaupin, MD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatric Oncology, and Megan Pailler, PhD, of the Department of Psychosocial Oncology, received $50,000 for the project “ ‘Talking Pictures’: an exploratory study of a meaning-based social media intervention for AYA cancer.”
  • Joseph Barbi, PhD, and Yasmin Thanavala, PhD, both from the Department of Immunology, received $50,000 to support the project “VEGF signaling and neuritin favor an activated T-reg phenotype in HCC patients.”
  • Renuka Iyer, MD, received $50,000 for “Hepatic artery infusion of FACT complex targeting drug CBL0137 on hepatocellular carcinoma.”
  • Michael Nemeth, PhD, Assistant Member in the Department of Medicine, received $50,000 for the project “Induction of cell cycling by interferon alpha to enhance decitabine response in myelodysplastic syndrome.”
  • Jenny Gu, Translational Research Scientist, received $50,000 for the project “Metformin as a novel chemotherapeutic agent fro the treatment of diffuse large b-cell lymphoma.”
  • Eugene Yu, PhD, Professor in the Department of Cancer Genetics, received $48,000 for the project “Engineer the first model to reveal the aneuploidy independent of gene dosage in tumorigenesis.”
  • James Mohler, MD, Associate Director and Senior Vice President for Translational Research, received $27,675 for the project, “Support for BMPK members to develop approaches to measure metabolites.”
  • Pamela Hershberger, PhD, Associate Professor of Oncology in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, received $25,000 for the project “Impact of vitamin D on stromal architecture in non-small cell lung cancer.”
  • Joyce Ohm, PhD, Associate Professor of Oncology in the Department of Cancer Genetics, received $25,000 for the project “Identification of new molecular therapeutics for the translocation associated soft tissue sarcomas.”
  • Dean Tang, PhD, Professor of Oncology and Chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, received $20,000 to study the “Role of neurogenesis genes in regulating cancer stem cells and tumor differences.”

Founded in 1991, the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization formed to receive and administer funds supporting scientific and clinical research, state-of-the-art medical care and quality-of-life programs for patients at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

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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.

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