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The UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center awarded $1.35 million in research funding through the latest fall awards cycle.

University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center has awarded $1.35 million in developmental research grants to 14 cancer research projects led by faculty members from UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State University and East Carolina University.

The recipients were chosen from a pool of 51 applications submitted in the fall. Review involved a committee of 35 UNC Lineberger faculty peer reviewers led by UNC Lineberger leadership. Funding is made possible by the University Cancer Research Fund and other sources.

“We were impressed by the range of ideas presented for review, and pleased to end up with such a wide variety of disciplines among the awardees,” said Anne Menkens, PhD, UNC Lineberger’s assistant director for collaborative research, who said the projects represent many cancer types and incorporate innovative scientific methods and topics, such as immunotherapy, vaccination against human papillomavirus, or HPV, and imaging.

This round of funding included Tier 2 Innovation Awards; regular Tier 1 Pilot awards; and awards included a targeted request for proposals from N.C. State and East Carolina University applicants. The grant recipients spanned UNC Lineberger’s program areas.

The funding is awarded semi-annually. Applications for the next round of funding will be due March 15.

Targeted requests for proposals for the new round will include requests focused on clinical trials and on patient care outcomes. These RFAs will be released soon, Menkens said, and the link for submission will be open about a week before the due date.

More information about the program is available online, or by sending an email to Menkens,

The fall 2018 award recipients are listed here. The abstracts are available online.

Tier 1 Awards

Nicholas G. Brown, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Pharmacology Project, “Visualizing Molecular Machines of the Cell Cycle”

Stephanie Downs-Canner, MD, assistant professor of surgery, “Inhibition of Th17 into T-reg conversion as a novel component of immunotherapy in triple negative breast cancer”

Melissa Gilkey, PhD, assistant professor, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, “Evaluating the feasibility of a mobile coaching intervention to improve HPV vaccine delivery”

Eliza M. Park, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry and medicine, “A novel intervention to improve outcomes for parents with metastatic cancer: A feasibility study”

Matthew Breen, PhD, CBiol, FRSB, Oscar J. Fletcher Distinguished Professor of Comparative Oncology Genetics, Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, and member of UNC Lineberger, “Epigenetic investigation of canine prostate cancer as a model for castration-resistant prostate cancer in men”

NCSU/ECU Targeted RFP Tier 1 Awards

Jason M. Haugh, professor, Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, North Carolina State University, “Systems Biology of Signaling Networks in Melanoma”

Christopher Mariani, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, associate professor of Neurology & Neurosurgery Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, “Cerebrospinal Fluid as a Liquid Biopsy for Glioma Diagnosis in Dogs”

Heather Harris Wright, PhD, professor, Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders, College of Allied Health Sciences, East Carolina University, “Tamoxifen Effects on Cognition and Language in Breast Cancer”

Tier 2 Awards

Paul Armistead MD, PhD, associate professor of Medicine, with co-principal investigator Benjamin Vincent, MD, assistant professor of Medicine, “Targeted Discovery of Graft Versus Leukemia Minor Histocompatibility Antigens for AML Immunotherapy”

Zibo Li, PhD, associate professor, Department of Radiology and Biomedical Research Imaging Center, School of Medicine, with co-principal investigator David Nicewicz, associate professor, Department of Chemistry, “Novel Methods for Aromatic 18F Labeling and Applications in Positron Emission Tomography Imaging”

Pengda Liu, PhD, assistant professor, Departments of Biochemistry and Biophysics, with co-principal investigator Michael Ben Major, PhD, associate professor of Cell Biology & Physiology and assistant professor of Computer Science, “MCSPA-guided CAS9 engineering for safe and improved gene editing”

Chad Pecot, MD, assistant professor, Department of Medicine, “Defining the Roles of a miR-671-5p/CDR1as/CDR1 axis in Lung Squamous Metastasis”

Yuliya Pylayeva-Gupta, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Genetics, “Role of IL-23 in epithelial-to-mesenchymal conversion in pancreatic cancer”

Yang Yang, PhD, research assistant professor, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, with co-principal investigator C. Ryan Miller, MD, PhD, associate professor, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine and Neurology, “Validating Trans-Lesion Synthesis as a Novel Therapeutic Target in Glioblastoma”