2017 GRANTEE: Gloria Petersen, PhD
Research Project: Validation and Temporal Performance of Pancreatic Cancer Biomarkers in Prospective Cohorts
Award: 2017 Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Early Detection Targeted Grant
Award Period: July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2019
Dr. Petersen joined the Mayo Clinic in 1999 and is currently a professor of epidemiology and deputy director for population sciences in the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center. She was associate professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University before joining Mayo Clinic. Dr. Petersen is also a longstanding member of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s Scientific & Medical Advisory Board. She received her degrees in physical anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, University of Oregon and University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Petersen then did her postdoctoral training in medical genetics at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, Calif and is a Board-certified PhD medical geneticist. She brings to this study deep research experience and knowledge of translational research in pancreatic cancer and has expertise in genetics and risk stratification.
The lack of an effective early detection strategy represents an enormous challenge for pancreatic cancer, leading to the majority of cases being diagnosed once the disease has progressed to advanced stages. There has been a great deal of recent attention on the discovery of blood-based biomarkers, or detectable and measurable substances that could predict the presence or progression of the disease.
However, very few blood-based biomarker strategies have met the appropriate criteria to be considered successful for translation to the clinic. Some reasons for the lack of success are the relatively low incidence of the disease, leading to too few samples from any single study, the lack of validated biomarkers and insufficient data surrounding the performance of biomarkers for early detection in various time intervals from sample collection to diagnosis.
Dr. Petersen and her research team seek to fill gaps by conducting a comprehensive and critical analysis of the landscape of prospective cohort studies (those that collected participant samples prior to their diagnosis with pancreatic cancer). Their goals are to catalog existing prospective studies, establish processes to assist investigators to assemble biosample sets suitable for robust pancreatic cancer early detection studies using these diverse cohorts and analyze the performance of individual biomarkers or panels of biomarkers over various time intervals leading up to the patient’s pancreatic cancer diagnosis.
The overarching goals of this project are to facilitate meaningful validation of the performance of various blood-based biomarkers to signify the presence of early-stage pancreatic cancer and to understand the timing of the appearance of biomarkers prior to clinical diagnosis of the disease.