First round of Upstate Cancer Center Pilot grants announced

First round of Upstate Cancer Center Pilot grants announced

SYRACUSE, N.Y. Three research studies looking into pancreatic cancer, noveltumor markers and nanocarriers to treat melanoma and cancers of thebrain are the first studies to receive the Upstate Cancer Center Pilotgrants. The grant funding is provided through the Upstate Foundation’sCancer Center Annual Fund and its Michael Connolly Endowment for LungCancer Research.

“The Foundation is pleased to be able to offer these grantopportunities and be part of groundbreaking studies,” said Eileen Pezzi,vice president for development at Upstate. “Many of our donors arehighly supportive of Upstate’s research initiatives. We look forward tosharing the results with them and our entire community.”

Winners of the $50,00 grants and their projects are:

Hong Lu, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology, and Savio John,MD, assistant professor of medicine, for “Alterations of keytumor-suppressors in liver/pancreatic cancer and pre-cancerous livertissues.”

Junto Luo, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology, and Walter Hall,MD, professor of neurosurgery, for “Development of a novel nanocarrierfor co-delivery in IL2 and MAPK inhibitors to improve the treatment ofmelanoma and its brain metastasis.”

Saeed Sheikh, PhD, professor of pharmacology, and Steve Landas, MD,professor of pathology, for “Characterization of a novel tumor markerand target of cancer therapy.”

The goal of the Cancer Center Pilot Grant is to stimulatecollaborative translational cancer research projects between basic andclinical faculty on novel ideas to generate preliminary data for grantfunding from external sources.

“A main focus of these grants is bringing together the scientist andthe physician as a way to sharpen the focus on discoveries that go frombench to bedside,” said David Amberg, PhD, vice president for research.“These grants also help to jump start work on research that will garnerexternal funding support in the coming years.”

Jeffrey Bogart, MD, interim director of the Upstate Cancer Center andchair of the Department of Radiation Oncology, said the research is animportant element of the cancer center.  “In addition to patient care,education and outreach, research is an important part of what theUpstate Cancer Center does,” he said. “Today’s research on new cancertherapies or research that provides us with a greater understanding ofcancer, will affect how we treat patients tomorrow.”

Members of the faculty committee reviewing Cancer Center Pilot grantsapplications are Ajeet Gajra, MD, associate professor of medicine;Leslie Kohman, MD, Distinguished Service Professor; Leszek Kotula, PhD,MD, associate professor of urology; Stewart Loh, PhD, professor ofbiochemistry and molecular biology; Mariano Viapiano, PhD, professor ofneuroscience and physiology; and Richard Wojcikiewicz, PhD, interimchair and professor of pharmacology.

Another round of Upstate Cancer Center Pilot grants will be awarded next year.