For the first time, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network has awarded its newly established Clinical and Translational Continuation Research Grants, bringing the final 2014 research grant portfolio to 16 grants totaling more than $5.1 million. To date, the organization has awarded 110 research grants adding up to nearly $23 million to bright and motivated scientists and clinicians throughout the country.
The two new funding mechanisms are designed to support next steps for ongoing projects that show great promise. They represent important additions to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s research grants portfolio.
Clinical Continuation Research Grant
The Clinical Continuation Research Grant is funded in partnership with the Rising Tide Foundation for Clinical Cancer Research and Gateway for Cancer Research. Together, these two organizations and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network are providing up to $1 million over three years to support the transition of a project begun in the laboratory into clinical testing.
This year’s recipient is David Boothman, PhD, who is a professor and associate director for translational research in pharmacology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Dr. Boothman’s work in the laboratory was previously supported by a Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Innovative Grant, generously funded by the George & June Block Family Foundation.
Dr. Boothman’s project is entitled “Exploiting an NQO1 ‘Kiss of Death’ for Pancreatic Cancer Therapy.” It involves further laboratory and initial clinical testing of his novel treatment strategy to exploit an abnormality in pancreatic cells to kill the tumor without harming normal cells. Preclinical experiments have demonstrated the drug’s effectiveness in mice, and next steps will include testing the drug’s ability to slow or stop the growth of pancreatic tumors in patients in combination with chemotherapy. The clinical testing will involve collaboration with Shaalan Beg, MD (University of Texas Southwestern) and Daniel Laheru, MD, at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Translational Continuation Research Grant
The Translational Continuation Research Grant, funded by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, provides $250,000 over two years. Translational research serves as a bridge between initial laboratory findings and later clinical testing in patients.
David Ting, MD, has been awarded the 2014 Translational Continuation Research Grant. He is currently an assistant physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. He previously received a Fellowship from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, which allowed him to develop the foundation for his current initiative.
Dr. Ting’s project, “Circulating Tumor Cells to Assess Pancreatic Cancer Disease Status,” focuses on cancer cells that can be found in the blood of patients and that serve as a “liquid biopsy” to determine the status of the cancer. Dr. Ting’s goal is to use these circulating tumor cells to predict response to treatment or improve early detection of the disease.
A Comprehensive Approach to Research Funding
The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s research grants program, established in 2003, has done much to enlarge the community of pancreatic cancer researchers and increase the body of scientific knowledge about the disease. The organization aims to be responsive to the needs of the research community, and the introduction of the Clinical and Translational Continuation Research Grants reflects that commitment. The types of research projects these grants support are essential to moving us closer to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s goal of doubling pancreatic cancer survival by 2020.