Stand Up To Cancer announced today five new awards that will cut across institutional and national lines to foster collaborative research and explore new paths to improve cancer treatment. The projects will receive a combined total of $1.1 million in funding to address some of the most pressing questions associated with colorectal, Ewing sarcoma, pancreatic, lung and pediatric cancers.
Named for Nobel laureate Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, chairperson of Stand Up To Cancer's Scientific Advisory Committee, the Phillip A. Sharp Innovation in Collaboration Awards focus on bringing new perspectives together to benefit cancer research. Sharp is an Institute professor at David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
What sets Stand Up To Cancer apart is its ability to break down historically restrictive silos that cancer researchers have typically worked in. These grants allow us to further emphasize the importance of collaboration among researchers across different institutions and specialties so that we can bring together the resources and brainpower needed to address some of the biggest challenges we face in cancer research and treatment today."
Nobel laureate Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, Chairperson of Stand Up To Cancer's Scientific Advisory Committee
The Sharp Awards are unique in their collaborative format, but also in the simple and quick selection process. The grants were selected at the annual Stand Up To Cancer Scientific Summit in January 2020 and were based on a 250-word outline of the idea that was reviewed by a board of experts at the summit. Each winning proposal submits a more detailed application before the grant is confirmed. Leaders of each team must be from different existing Stand Up To Cancer research teams. The program, now in its seventh year, encourages the inclusion of early-career investigators.
"The unique nature of the Sharp Awards allows for the extraordinary talent across the SU2C community to come together from different teams and individual grants to tackle some of the toughest new questions facing cancer research," said William G. Nelson, MD, PhD, vice chair of the Stand Up To Cancer Scientific Advisory Committee and director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center Johns Hopkins. "These new grants will help to build upon existing research, while creating the opportunity for researchers to work together on new and innovative projects."
The American Association for Cancer Research, Stand Up To Cancer's scientific partner, will support the administration of these projects receiving funding for the 2020 Sharp Awards, including:
- Florencia McAllister, MD, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, early career investigator on the SU2C-Lustgarten Foundation Pancreatic Cancer Interception Dream Team, and Luis A. Diaz Jr., MD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, leader of the SU2C Colorectal Cancer Dream Team. This team will conduct research on "Genomic and therapeutic implications of selective bacterial and fungal colonization of gastrointestinal malignancies." Total funding: $200,000.
- William Freed-Pastor, MD, PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, early career investigator on the SU2C-Lustgarten Foundation Pancreatic Cancer Interception Dream Team, and Phil Greenberg, MD, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, formerly principal investigator on the SU2C-Cancer Research Institute Cancer Immunology Dream Team, currently serving as SU2C Scientific Reviewer. This team will conduct research on "Utilizing tumor organoids to facilitate the development of effective strategies to target pancreatic cancer with engineered T cells." Total funding: $200,000.
- Karin Pelka, PhD, Broad Institute of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, SU2C Peggy Prescott Early Career Scientist and Matthew Hellmann, MD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, early career investigator on the SU2C-American Cancer Society Lung Cancer Dream Team and co-leader of the SU2C Catalyst® Lung Immuno-Epigenetics Team. This team will conduct research on "Can scRNAseq-derived gene programs predict anti-PD1 response in high TMB CRC and NSCLC patients?" Total funding: $200,000.
- Michal Sheffer, PhD, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, post-doctoral Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) fellow, SU2C Natural Killer Cell Resistance Convergence Research Team and David Kirsch, MD, PhD, Duke University, leader of the SU2C Catalyst® Sarcoma Research Team. This team will conduct research on "Harnessing NK Cells to Treat Pediatric Cancers." This grant was funded with support from the Emily Whitehead Foundation. Total funding: $250,000.
- Poul Sorensen, MD, PhD, University of British Columbia, principal investigator on the SU2C Canada Metastatic Breast Cancer Dream Team and the St. Baldrick's Foundation - SU2C Pediatric Cancer Dream Team, and Elizabeth Lawlor, MD, PhD, University of Michigan, principal investigator, Pediatric SU2C Catalyst Epigenetics Research Team, and 2009 SU2C Innovative Research Grant recipient. This team will conduct research on "Enhancing ferroptosis to block Ewing sarcoma metastatic capacity." This grant was funded with support from the Kate McGarrigle Fund and the Steve Golin Prize. Total funding: $250,000.
Special awards this year were funded by the Emily Whitehead Foundation, the Kate McGarrigle Fund, and the Steve Golin Prize.
The Emily Whitehead Foundation is named after the first pediatric patient to receive CAR-T therapy for leukemia. These special awards focus specifically on addressing various therapeutic areas in pediatric cancer research. "We are honored to continue our collaboration with SU2C to fund these researchers focused on furthering pediatric cancer immunotherapy treatments," said Tom Whitehead, co-founder of the Emily Whitehead Foundation. "Collaborative research is essential to developing new, successful treatments. Our hope is that by funding these research grants we will be able to give more kids the chance to survive their cancer and lead happy, healthy lives."
The SU2C Kate McGarrigle Fund is a collaboration of Stand Up To Cancer and singers Rufus Wainwright and Martha Wainwright that raises much-needed funds for sarcoma research and provides music resources to cancer patients and survivors with a passion for music through the Music As Healing program. Kate McGarrigle, Canadian singer, songwriter, mother of Rufus Wainwright and Martha Wainwright, died of sarcoma in 2010.
The Steve Golin Fund accelerates research in Ewing sarcoma, in memory of Steve Golin, the American film producer who died of Ewing sarcoma in 2019. Ewing sarcoma is a rare bone and soft tissue cancer predominantly found in children.