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Collaboration is fundamental to successful research. The AACR plays a critical role in establishing partnerships among researchers, institutions, patients, advocates, and others to boost progress toward our shared goal of understanding, preventing, and curing cancer. Our partners stand with us to advance the science that saves lives and eradicates cancer.
We sincerely thank each of you for joining us in this essential enterprise.
Working together, we are advancing trailblazing research to transform the reality for cancer patients today and well into the future.
The following are just a few of our recent partnerships:
Ocular Melanoma Foundation
The AACR and the
Ocular Melanoma Foundation (OMF) teamed up in 2013 on a bold but important goal – to find cures and better treatments for ocular melanoma – an aggressive form of cancer diagnosed in about 2,000 people a year in the U.S. While advances have been made in recent years against metastatic melanoma of the skin, no effective treatments for metastatic ocular melanoma have been developed, and more research is urgently needed to accelerate progress against this disease, also known as uveal melanoma.
The AACR is pleased to collaborate with OMF to provide a fellowship that supports talented early-career investigators conducting research in ocular melanoma. This one-year fellowship of $50,000 represents a joint effort to encourage and support a postdoctoral or clinical research fellow to conduct ocular/uveal melanoma research and to establish a successful career path in ophthalmology, ocular oncology, uveal melanoma cancer biology, or a similar field.
Meet the 2014 Grantee
Alexander N. Shoushtari, MD is a fellow in the medical oncology department at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
"Overcoming Resistance to MEK Inhibition in Advanced Uveal Melanoma."
MEK inhibitors, such as the FDA-approved trametinib, have shown early promise in the systemic treatment of BRAF-mutated melanomas. Dr. Shoushtari's work is critical in better understanding of the drug's potential efficacy for eye melanomas.
Stay tuned for more updates about Dr. Shoushtari's progress against this disease.
Colon Cancer Alliance
The AACR and the
Colon Cancer Alliance teamed up in 2013 with the important goal of advancing our understanding and discovery of new biomarkers that will lead to cures for colorectal cancer patients. Through this partnership, the Colon Cancer Alliance-AACR Fellowship for Biomarker Research provides vital grant funding to early-career investigators – the next generation of cancer researchers to this key area of research.
The second-leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., colorectal cancer is diagnosed in more than 135,000 adults each year. More than 50,000 men and women die annually of cancer of the colon and rectum, according to federal estimates.
Much progress has been made in the fight against colorectal cancer over the last three decades, thanks to biomedical research. In the 1980s, screening for colorectal cancer was not standard medical practice. In fact, many people were not diagnosed until they had symptoms of colorectal cancer in advanced stage. Treatment options were limited to surgery, and very few therapeutic drugs were available to treat this disease.
Because of scientific research, we now understand that most colorectal cancers begin as a polyp in the colon, and the standard treatment of care is to remove the polyp to prevent the vast majority of colorectal cancers. In addition, treatment options for more advanced tumors have expanded to include many drugs and combination therapies, and more precise surgery and radiation.
For colorectal cancers, understanding molecular biomarkers will provide more effective treatments with fewer side effects through targeted drug therapies for patients.
Meet the 2014 Grantee
Marios Giannakis, M.D., PhD, a clinical oncology fellow at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
"Dissecting the Somatic Genomic Epidemiology of Colorectal Cancer."
Dr. Giannakis' project will perform Whole Exome Sequencing on the tumors of 1,109 individuals from the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, two large epidemiologic cohorts that prospectively collected extensive lifestyle data on the participants through biennial questionnaires.
Utilizing the clinical sequencing platform and computational pipeline available in his laboratory and at the Broad Institute, Dr. Giannakis' lab will identify genes and pathways that are significantly altered in the tumors of these patients.
The research is expected to extend our current understanding of colorectal cancer pathogenesis and provide a rich resource for molecular epidemiologic studies examining the interplay between genetic alterations and lifestyle as well as drug interventions. The findings from this study can set the stage for the validation of novel predictive biomarkers in prospective clinical trials with ASA, NSAIDs, or statins as adjuvant therapy in colorectal cancer.
Stay tuned for more updates about Dr. Giannakis' progress against this disease.
The Breast Cancer Research Foundation
Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) has partnered with the AACR since 2007 to provide support for innovative projects to speed the discovery, development, and deployment of new therapies for breast cancer. Founded by Evelyn H. Lauder in 1993, the BCRF has raised more than $500 million to fuel discoveries in tumor biology, genetics, prevention, treatment, survivorship, and metastasis. Since 2007, in partnership with the AACR, the BCRF has given a total of $2.5 million to support the highest caliber translational and clinical breast cancer research.
The Breast Cancer Research Foundation-AACR Grants for Translational Breast Cancer Research were established to support cancer research projects designed to accelerate the discovery, development, and application of new agents to treat breast cancer and/or for preclinical research with direct therapeutic intent.
Meet a 2014 Grantee
Amy Brock, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin.
"Preclinical Evaluation of Intraductal RNAi Therapy"
Breast precancers are spotted frequently with mammography screening. However, only a fraction of them will eventually progress to become invasive breast cancers. At this time there are no useful biomarkers to identify which patients with precancers – precancerous lesions of the breast, also known as ductal carcinoma in-situ (DCIS) – are at risk. As a result, many women with DCIS are overtreated with surgery, often followed by radiation and long-term hormone therapy. These treatments have potentially significant side effects.
The goal of Dr. Brock's research is to develop a method to deliver a type of therapy called RNAi therapy directly to breast ducts where the precancerous lesions are. Because this therapy is delivered directly to the problematic cells, side effects such as tissue damage, bleeding, swelling, or immune activation, which are typical of many standard treatments, can be eliminated. Dr. Brock's lab tested this therapy in mice with promising results.
Dr. Brock's project will further investigate the feasibility of targeted delivery of RNAi therapy for breast cancer prevention and treatment. Innovations from this project have the potential to significantly improve treatment and prevention options for breast cancer patients.
Meet a 2014 Grantee
Fariba Behbod, PharmD, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center Research Institute, Inc., Kansas City, Kan.
"Essential Role of BCL9 in DCIS Progression to Invasive Breast Cancer"
The current therapy for precancer of the breast, also known as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), is surgery plus radiation and antihormonal therapy. However, studies suggest that less than 50 percent of breast precancers subsequently progress to invasive breast cancers. Currently, there are no means to identify which precancers will progress to invasive cancer. Therefore, we do not know which patients with precancers are likely to benefit from therapy and which of them are overtreated.
Dr. Behbod's research focuses on identifying proteins in breast precancer cells that cause progression to cancer. Using mouse models, Behbod's team identified a protein called BCL9, which may promote progression of precancer to cancer.
Dr. Behbod's project will test whether BCL9 can serve as a biomarker as well as a therapeutic target. Her team will evaluate whether measuring BCL9 in breast precancers can predict progression to cancer, and also conduct experiments to test if inhibiting BCL9 can prevent the progression of precancers.