The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) has presented Nima Sharifi, M.D., Kendrick Family Endowed Chair for Prostate Cancer Research at Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute, a Challenge Award to advance the treatment of lethal prostate cancer. He is also co-investigator on a second Challenge Award that was also selected for funding.
Dr. Sharifi - who was named a PCF Young Investigator in 2008 and is a co-investigator on a previous Challenge Award -has been part of three Challenge Awards from the Foundation since 2008.
Awardees were selected from a pool of 55 applicants, representing 48 institutions in 13countries around the world. Each submitted proposal was subjected to a rigorous, two-round peer review process in which the projects were assessed for clinical relevance and their potential for near-term impact on standard of care. Priority was given to high-risk, first-in-field and currently unfunded projects--typically falling outside the parameters of conventional funding organizations. These innovative projects have the potential to develop game-changing diagnostic and prognostic tests for lethal disease.
"This grant gives the potential to change the standard of care in treatment-resistant prostate cancer" said Nima Sharifi, M.D., who is a member of the Department of Cancer Biology in Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute, Glickman Urological and Kidney and Taussig Institutes. "This kind of strategy of personalized medicine will help us further our understanding of deadly disease."
"We are very proud of the impact that one of our PCF Young Investigators is having on the future of prostate cancer research," says Howard R. Soule, PhD, Executive Vice President and Chief Science Officer, Prostate Cancer Foundation. "This prestigious Challenge Award will surely advance new discoveries in the field that will improve the lives of cancer patients worldwide."
In Dr. Sharifi's earlier research, published in Cell August 2013, he discovered a genetic mutation in a drug-resistant - and often deadly - form of prostate cancer. The mutation occurs in the androgen-synthesizing enzyme 3βHSD1 in castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). This mutation enables the tumor to make its own supply of androgens, a hormone that fuels the growth of the prostate cancer. The Challenge Award will help Dr. Sharifi in the potential development of an FDA-approved prognostic test to identify patients with genetic mutations that predispose them to CRPC.
Dr. Sharifi and a team of multi-disciplinary prostate cancer experts from Cleveland Clinic are focusing on detecting CRPC, at a stage where a cure is still possible. This first-in-field research looks to identify genetic biomarkers on genetics and to improve treatment outcomes in this lethal form of prostate cancer. This team, which includes members of Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute (LRI), Taussig Cancer Institute, Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute, Pathology and Lab Medicine Institute, and Imaging Institute was also recently recognized by an LRI Center of Excellence Award, only one of two granted in another peer-reviewed process.
"These awards recognize the outstanding prostate cancer research at Cleveland Clinic and continue to build on our tradition of team science with substantive benefits for patient care", observed Eric A. Klein, MD, Chairman of the Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute.