CINCINNATI—A community-based fundraising effort has yielded a new pilot grant program at the Cincinnati Cancer Center for a historically underfunded research area: pancreatic cancer.
The Give Hope/BSI Engineering pilot research program will provide start-up research funding to a scientist affiliated with the UC Cancer Institute and studies pancreatic cancer, a devastating disease that affects more than 43,000 people each year and has a five-year survival rate of less than five percent.
Vladimir Bogdanov, PhD, a researcher and assistant professor in the UC College of Medicine Department of Internal Medicine’s Division of Hematology/Oncology, received the program’s first grant of $21,000 to look at a novel potential biomarker and therapeutic target for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC).
The start-up funding will help Bogdanov delve into the specific role of a molecule he discovered, known as "alternatively spliced tissue factor (asTF),” in PDAC. Preliminary data suggests that asTF—a protein that promotes vessel growth and recruitment of pro-inflammatory white cells—is highly expressed in PDAC but not in normal pancreas. Bogdanov’s project will study this molecule in PDAC tissue and blood samples, as well as pre-clinical animal models to determine whether asTF holds promise, in part, as a new circulating biomarker.
The Critical Role of Pilot Research Funding
Securing resources to gather the necessary preliminary data to justify a full-fledged research project is one of the biggest hurdles of modern research. Resources are limited and the "big player” funders like the National Cancer Institute—a part of the National Institutes of Health—are more likely to invest in the projects most likely to succeed in moving beyond the lab bench to clinical practice. In order to gather the data to prove that a research idea has merit, though, scientists must have sufficient staff and equipment.
Pilot grant programs at the Cincinnati Cancer Center offer researchers a financial boost that is critical to get an idea off the ground and eventually lead to larger grants. The Ride Cincinnati Marlene Harris Pilot Grants Program, established in 2007, has raised nearly $1 million for breast cancer research at the Cincinnati Cancer Center. The organization’s annual cycling event occurs June 10, 2012. To register, visit ridecincinnati.org