Grants totaling $1.2 million will be awarded to 13 research teams through the spring cycle of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center Developmental Grants program, which aims to advance basic science, clinical/translational and population-based cancer research and give researchers an edge in applying for outside funding.
“The Developmental Grant program is an amazing engine for moving research forward at UNC Lineberger,” said Anne Menkens, PhD, UNC Lineberger assistant director for collaborative research. “During the past five years, researchers have leveraged these grants to bring in outside funding, resulting in a more than four-fold return on investment. That doesn’t take into account the publications, new research collaborations, patents, new therapeutics and other accomplishments of our faculty as a result of these grants.”
The finalists for the spring 2016 grant cycle were chosen from a pool of 65 applicants. They were selected through a competitive process that included a review for innovation, scientific merit, team quality, and project feasibility, as well as their alignment with cancer center and university priorities.
This year, in addition to taking general applications, targeted requests for applications were issued soliciting projects that involved imaging or collaboration with North Carolina State University researchers.
The current funding cycle was awarded on three levels: Tier 1 pilot awards provide a principal investigator $50,000 for one-year projects; Tier 2 stimulus awards offer $100,000 - $200,000 to support research being led by one to two principal investigators; and Tier 3 multi-project awards are for up to $200,000 plus administrative support for three or more researchers planning a program project grant.
The awards are made possible by support from the University Cancer Research Fund, the National Cancer Institute and private donations.
Awardees for the program’s spring 2016 cycle included faculty from multiple UNC-Chapel Hill departments, UNC Lineberger and the UNC & N.C. State Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering:
Tier 1 Awards
- Emma Allott, PhD, research assistant professor in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, “Molecular profiling of prostate cancer to understand mechanisms contributing to racial disparities.”
- Laura Bowers, PhD, MPH, a postdoctoral fellow in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, and Stephen Hursting, PhD, a UNC Lineberger member and professor in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, “Obesity-associated chemotherapy resistance in triple-negative breast cancer: The Role of leptin-induced tumor-initiating cell enrichment.”
- Timothy Gershon, MD, PhD, a UNC Lineberger member, associate professor in the UNC School of Medicine Department of Neurology, “Developing KIF11 inhibition as a novel medulloblastoma therapy in mice.”
- Zhanhong Wu, PhD, an assistant professor in the UNC School of Medicine Department of Radiology, “Detection of pancreatic cancer metastasis using PET agent targeting neurotensin receptor.”
- David Lalush, PhD, associate professor in the UNC and N.C. State Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering, and four other investigators, “Utility of PET/MR in Surgical Planning for Breast Cancer Treated with Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy.”
Tier 2 Awards
- Melissa Troester, PhD, associate professor in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, and Cherie Kuzmiak, DO, associate professor of radiology and division chief of Breast Imaging at UNC Hospitals, “Toward Risk Stratification of Screening False Positives: Biological Discovery in TMIST.”
- Jonathan Serody, MD, UNC Lineberger member and professor in the UNC School of Medicine, “Imaging PD-1 T/CAR-T cell Tumor Interaction and Vaccine Function in vivo.”
- G. Greg Wang, PhD, a UNC Lineberger member and assistant professor in the UNC School of Medicine Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, and Stephen Frye, PhD, a UNC Lineberger member and professor in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, “Decipher the role of DNA methyltransferase 3A (DNMT3A) mutation in acute myeloid leukemia.”
- William Wood, MD, UNC Lineberger member and associate professor in the UNC School of Medicine, and Ashley Freeman, MD, clinical fellow in the UNC School of Medicine, and partners, “Impact of geographic region, treatment facility, and Physician Network Characteristics on Outcomes for patients with acute leukemia and multiple myeloma in North Carolina.”
- Wang Shuman, PhD, assistant professor in the UNC & NC State Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering, and partners, “A novel 32-channel 3.0 Tesla PET/MRI Receiver Coil Array for Fast and High Resolution Head and Neck Cancer Imaging.”
Tier 3 Awards
- Ian Davis, MD, PhD, UNC Lineberger member and associate professor in the UNC School of Medicine, and collaborators, “Chromatin Architecture as a platform for drug development.”
- D. Neil Hayes, MD, MPH, UNC Lineberger member and associate professor in the UNC School of Medicine, and collaborators, “Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Upper Aerodigestive Tract.”
- Paul Dayton, PhD, professor in the UNC & N.C. State Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering, and collaborators, “Next-generation tools for quantitative imaging and analysis of cancer-associated angiogenesis in breast cancer.”