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Gianpietro Dotti, MD, will use the $100,000 Mary Kay Foundation grant to conduct cellular immunotherapy research.

The Mary Kay FoundationSM announced the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center is among its 2018 cancer grant recipients. The Foundation awards these grants annually to top research institutions in the United States that are conducting innovative research to better understand cancers that affect women. Since 1996, the Foundation has awarded more than $28 million in grants to universities and medical centers around the country.

One in three women is diagnosed with cancer in her lifetime, and this year alone, more than 800,000 women are expected to be diagnosed, according to the American Cancer Society. With cancer being the second-leading cause of death in women, The Mary Kay Foundation has made it a priority to support research of cancers affecting women at U.S. medical schools and research facilities.

This is the eighth year UNC-Chapel Hill has received a cancer research grant from Mary Kay Foundation. This grant will support research using patients’ own immune cells, modified with a chimeric molecule to attract and attack tumor cells, in the treatment of solid tumors such as neuroblastoma, glioblastoma, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer and triple negative breast cancer. The research will be directed by Gianpietro Dotti, MD, who is an international leader in the development of immunotherapy strategies to treat cancers and has demonstrated success using this technique to treat patients with hematological malignances.

“We appreciate this grant from The Mary Kay Foundation, which we are hopeful will help expand the availability of immunotherapies to more cancer patients,” said Dotti, who is a professor in the UNC School of Medicine Department of Microbiology and Immunology. “Many solid tumors are difficult to treat, but with the help of this grant we hope to discover an approach that eliminates not only cancerous cells in solid tumors, but also the cells that facilitate tumor growth.”

Previous Foundation-funded research at UNC-Chapel Hill has included researching a viral infection that exacerbates breast cancer metastasis, predicting genome instability in breath cancer and finding a therapeutic vaccine for cervical cancer, among other topics.

After reviewing more than 160 applications, The Mary Kay Foundation Research Review Committee awarded $100,000 grants to 12 cancer research institutions across the country. This year’s grant recipients include the following research institutions:

  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School
  • Rutgers New Jersey Medical School
  • UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • University of Chicago
  • University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • University of North Dakota
  • UPMC Hillman Cancer Center
  • University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
  • University of Wisconsin – Madison
  • Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Weill Cornell Medicine

“We have seen previous grants lead to innovative breakthroughs in the study of breast, uterine, cervical and ovarian cancers and are so thrilled with this year’s recipients,” said Michael Lunceford, president of The Mary Kay Foundation Board of Directors. “The Foundation’s commitment to cancer research is anchored by our founder’s legacy and carried on by the passion and support of our company and independent sales force to someday find a cure.”

Click here for more information about The Mary Kay Foundation and a full list of the 2018 Cancer Research Grant recipients