Scientist readies slide on microscope

Donations to Roswell Park Launch Eight New Cancer Research Studies

Competitive process selects most promising projects for impact on prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer

  • Eight research projects received grants totaling $772,330
  • Projects underwent competitive review process
  • Grants made possible through donations to Roswell Park Alliance Foundation

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Generous donations have set in motion eight groundbreaking new research projects at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. The promising preliminary studies received a total of $772,330 from the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation, the 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that raises funds and manages all donations made to Roswell Park.

Twice a year, Roswell Park’s Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) announces a call for grant applications from Roswell Park’s research community. Researchers submit their project proposals to the committee, which is made up of an internal, objective group of scientists. The committee members then score the applications and select the projects that will receive funding based on potential to impact how we prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.

This process was developed to help Roswell Park’s researchers explore innovative ideas at the ground level and produce data that could make them eligible for national grants. On average, every $1 donated to the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation supporting research generates an average of $13 in additional new research grant funding from external sources.

The fall 2019 request for applications received 37 submissions. After a thorough review, these eight research studies were selected by the SAC to receive grant awards:

  1. Understanding and overcoming protein-driven (HNF1A) drug resistance in pancreatic cancer, which could improve effectiveness of treating pancreatic cancer and potentially reduce its lethality, led by Ethan Abel, PhD, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.
  2. Selectively targeting breast and pancreatic cancers with genetic alteration in a tumor suppressor (p53), which can lead to new combination therapies improving patient outcomes, led by Andrei Bakin, PhD, Department of Cancer Genetics and Genomics.
  3. Dissecting new IMPDH2-dependent mechanisms that control the invasiveness of triple negative breast cancer, which could ultimately result in the suppression of its metastatic progression, led by Anna Bianchi-Smiraglia, PhD, Department of Cell Stress Biology.
  4. Targeting a metabolic enzyme in triple negative breast cancer, which could help identify new treatment options and explain the mechanisms that promote recurrence and metastasis, led by Subhamoy Dasgupta, PhD, Department of Cell Stress Biology.
  5. Mobilizing the immune system to reduce the need for chemotherapy and improve outcomes in triple negative breast cancer, led by Shipra Gandhi, MD, Department of Medicine.
  6. Investigating the role of breastfeeding in preventing aggressive breast cancer, led by Michael Higgins, PhD, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.
  7. Investigating racial differences in the interactions between tumor cells and immune cells in breast cancer, which may lead to the design of treatment strategies specifically for Black women, led by Angela Omilian, PhD, Department of Cancer Prevention and Control.
  8. Understanding the role of protein PEPD in tumor suppressor p53’s abilities and finding ways to activate the protein’s capabilities, possibly leading to a novel therapeutic strategy in treating cancers, led by Yuesheng Zhang, MD, PhD, Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

Through a separately managed process, the Alliance Foundation also awarded funds to support three additional cancer related research efforts to Drs. Gal Shafirstein, Minhyung Kim and Xinjiang Wang.

Funding for the research projects has been made possible through individual gifts to the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation and donations to events like the Ride for Roswell, Goin' Bald for Bucks, the Empire State Ride and Team Roswell. 

To learn more about the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation and the research and patient care programs it supports at Roswell Park, visit


About the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation

The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is a is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that manages all donations made to Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. Its mission is to maximize dollars available for Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center’s most promising lifesaving research, treatment and prevention programs, while supporting the psychosocial needs of patients and families touched by cancer.

About the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center

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

Media Contact

Michelle Ostrander, Director, Development Marketing and Communications