CINCINNATI—Two University of Cincinnati (UC) scientists have been awarded a total of $1.44 million in grant funding from the American Cancer Society to further their study of the causes and treatment of cancer.
The two $720,000 grants, which go into effect July 1, 2010, and continue for four years, are among 152 new national research and training grants from the society totaling over $50 million in the first of two grant cycles for 2010.
Yana Zavros, PhD, an assistant professor in the department of molecular and cellular physiology, is studying how chronic infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori causes gastric cancer (also known as stomach cancer). The award will support research projects investigating biological changes to the cells lining the stomach to better understand how those changes promote tumor initiation and growth.
In 2009, there were an estimated 21,130 new cases of stomach cancer in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). U.S. deaths from stomach cancer totaled 10,620.
Kathryn Wikenheiser-Brokamp, MD, PhD, an assistant professor in the department of pathology and laboratory medicine at UC and the divisions of pathology & laboratory medicine and pulmonary biology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, is studying the retinoblastoma (Rb) protein family’s role in the development of cancerous lung tissue. She anticipates that her work could provide information to personalize therapy for individual patients as well as develop new treatments that could target cancer cells and minimize side effects.
Lung cancer is the No. 1 cause of cancer death in the nation for both men and women, killing close to 159,000 Americans every year.
"There’s still much to learn about the development of gastric cancer,” says Zavros. "This award will help support our lab as it continues to identify the complex interactions that result in stomach cancer with the long-term goal of developing new approaches for the targeted therapy of cancer. "It is a tremendous honor to have been chosen as one of the recipients of this grant, and I wish to express my sincere thanks to the society.”
"The ultimate goal of our research is to identify the basic machinery that controls lung growth and to determine how the machinery becomes dysfunctional in lung cancer,” says Wikenheiser-Brokamp. "I’m optimistic that we can work with the American Cancer Society to create more birthdays for cancer patients if we combine the passionate efforts of clinicians, researchers, cancer patients and volunteers.”
The American Cancer Society, headquartered in Atlanta, is the nation’s largest private, not-for-profit source of funds for scientists studying cancer. Since its founding in 1946, the American Cancer Society’s extramural research grants program has devoted about $3.5 billion to cancer research.
In 2009, UC received more than $1.1 million in research funding from the American Cancer Society. Of those funds, the society’s Ohio chapter contributed $30,000.