Roswell Park Deputy Director Dr. Kunle Odunsi, left, will lead  a Cancer Moonshot-funded project aimed at developing a new treatment option for ovarian cancer.

Roswell Park Takes in New Research Funding Totaling Nearly $22 Million

Funds include a $4.1 million allocation from NCI’s Cancer Moonshot program

  • Seven research teams received grant funding of $1 million or more
  • Cancer Moonshot funds support work to develop new treatment for ovarian cancer
  • $3.6M award keeps big-data bioinformatics resource based at Roswell Park

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Roswell Park received more than $21.8 million in recent competitive grants and contracts to launch new investigations or continue major research efforts that have shown promise. This includes funding from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Cancer Moonshot program as well as multimillion-dollar renewals for high-impact projects based at Roswell Park.

“Access to federal research dollars is highly competitive,” says Congressman Brian Higgins. “Continued significant investment in the work happening right here at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center speaks to the confidence placed in Roswell’s incredible research team. With each research project we take steps forward in the discovery of methods to prevent and treat cancer, and Western New York is proud to have Roswell Park leading the way.”

The five-year, $4.1 million allocation from the NCI’s Cancer Moonshot program to Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, FRCOG, FACOG, Deputy Director, and Danuta Kozbor, PhD, Associate Professor of Immunology and Microbiology, supports a cooperative project with Andrea Gambotto, MD, of the University of Pittsburgh. The team will explore ways to reprogram the cells and molecules surrounding ovarian tumors to overcome various resistance mechanisms that make these cancers so hard to treat. The long-term objective of this project is to develop a new treatment option for ovarian cancer, one based on a cancer-killing or “oncolytic” virus.

“There’s an incredible amount of work and resources that goes into even being able to compete for these prestigious Cancer Moonshot funds,” says Dr. Odunsi. “We’re excited about moving this very complex and promising approach forward so that we can soon make it available to patients with advanced ovarian cancer.

Martin Morgan, PhD, Professor of Oncology in the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, received more than $3.6 million from the NCI to continue his leadership of the R/Bioconductor Project, a critical bioinformatics resource based at Roswell Park and used by researchers around the world.

“Today’s leading-edge research approaches generate large and complicated data sets,” explains Dr. Morgan, Director of the R/Bioconductor Project. “For instance, one laboratory technique determines expression of thousands of genes in tens of thousands of individual cells. We develop the statistical software that’s essential to managing and analyzing that data so that researchers can draw conclusions from it.”

Roswell Park also secured the renewal of two competitive contracts totaling $3.25 million to lead and implement New York State’s Advancing Tobacco-Free Communities in two regions — the Southern Tier of New York and the Genesee/Orleans/Wyoming County region. Roswell Park has led these important cancer-prevention initiatives since 2014 under contract to the New York State Department of Health and led by Andrew Hyland, PhD, Chair of the Department of Health Behavior.

Other highlights among projects recently awarded federal or private foundation grant funding:

  • Richard Hershberger, PhD, Chief Academic Officer, received a $1.6 million renewal award to continue Roswell Park’s ongoing role in educating and training the next generation of cancer researchers and oncologists. This five-year grant supports summer research experiences in cancer science and oncology for more than 30 college, medical and nursing students each year. “We expect to see a greater demand for professionals in the cancer workforce over the next decades with an expanding cancer survivor population, growing cancer health disparities and emerging technologies in precision medicine,” says Dr. Hershberger. “These research experiences introduce undergraduate and health-profession students to the latest cutting-edge topics at key stages in their education to orient them on to careers in the cancer field.”
  • John Krolewski, MD, PhD, Professor of Oncology and Chair of Cancer Genetics and Genomics, received a three-year-year, $1.05 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to explore how androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) — the main therapy for advanced or metastatic prostate cancer — may induce an immuno-suppressive state that can promote tumor recurrence. Successful understanding of this mechanism may lead to new therapies to prevent ADT failure and prevent disease recurrence, the major cause of prostate cancer death.
  • Kevin Eng, PhD, Associate Professor of Oncology in the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, received a one-year, $740,298 grant from the DoD for his research exploring the role of a hereditary, X-chromosome-linked gene mutation in the risk for prostate cancer among men with daughters diagnosed with familial ovarian cancer.
  • Ethan Abel, PhD, Assistant Professor of Oncology in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, received a two-year, $375,000 Pancreatic Cancer Action Network-AACR Pathway to Leadership Grant from the American Association for Cancer Research. His project aims to understand the role of the HNF1A protein in pancreatic cancer cells, how it contributes to tumor growth and treatment resistance, and how it might be eliminated.
  • Pamela Hershberger, PhD, Associate Professor of Oncology in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, received a two-year, $200,000 grant from the American Lung Association for her work in overcoming treatment resistance in EGFR-mutant lung cancers. Her team is developing a nanomedicine to deliver high-dose vitamin D directly to lung tumors to prevent resistance to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors from developing.

The $21.7 million in recent awards also includes two previously announced DoD grants: a multimillion-dollar Breakthrough Award to Pawel Kalinski, MD, PhD, to assess a three-pronged immunotherapy strategy for treating metastatic breast cancer and a $544,360 grant to fund a multi-institutional pilot project supporting development of a detection test for ovarian cancer, an effort led by Dr. Odunsi.


Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is a community united by the drive to eliminate cancer’s grip on humanity by unlocking its secrets through personalized approaches and unleashing the healing power of hope. Founded by Dr. Roswell Park in 1898, it is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in Upstate New York. Learn more at, or contact us at 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or

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