Prevent Cancer Foundation awards $1.1 million in cancer research and global grants

Contact: Diane Tilton

Alexandria, Va. – The Prevent Cancer Foundation® announces the funding of eight new U.S.-based researchers and four new cancer prevention and early detection projects in low- or middle-income countries. The Foundation is proud to support these projects through its research grant and fellowship program and global grants program, both of which aim to further cancer prevention and early detection efforts.

Research grants and fellowships awarded this year will increase cancer prevention and early detection research.  These projects are based in seven research institutions across the country and made possible by Foundation supporters, Awesome Games Done Quick, the Marcia and Frank Carlucci Charitable Foundation, the Shure Family Charitable Foundation and the Devereaux Foundation.

Working in Cameroon, Peru, Nigeria and Mozambique, the global grant awardees will focus on increasing quality screening for cervical or colorectal cancer beginning in January 2020. The projects will have direct impact where cancer prevention and early detection resources are limited. The 2020 global grants are made possible by Awesome Games Done Quick.

Research grant and fellowship recipients

Grantee:  Alicia Allen, Ph.D.
Institution: University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Project Title: A Novel Approach to Help Women of Reproductive Age Quit Smoking
Award: $100,000 for two years

Despite significant declines in the number of people who smoke cigarettes, smoking continues to be the primary preventable cause of cancer. Targeting ovarian hormones represents a novel approach to improve smoking cessation in women of reproductive age. Using the hormonal contraceptive depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) to lower and stabilize estradiol may improve quit outcomes, ultimately preventing smoking related cancers.

Grantee: Francisco Cartujano, M.D.
Institution: Hackensack University Medical Center, Hackensack, NJ
Project Title: Advancing smoking cessation in Latinos living with HIV one text at a time
Award: $100,000 for two years

Latino smokers living with HIV face difficulties in quitting smoking. More intense interventions for smoking cessation among this population are needed to prevent cancer. This proposal aims to adapt, and pilot test a smoking cessation text messaging intervention to Latinos living with HIV.

Grantee: Jan Claesen, Ph.D.
Institution: Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH
Project Title: Gut microbiota metabolism of dietary compounds to chemopreventive molecules
Award: $100,000 for two years

Fruits and vegetables are key in a cancer prevention diet. However, beneficial dietary effects differ greatly from person to person and the reason behind this is poorly understood. We will study how our gut microbes process plant flavonoids, contributing to a successful cancer prevention outcome.

Fellow: Adrien Grimont, Ph.D.
Institution: Joan & Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, NY
Application Title: Mutant Kras allele-specific epigenetic plasticity in PDAC initiation
Award: $100,000 for two years

Because patients with pancreatic cancer have poor prognosis (5-year survival rate of 7%) across all disease stages, efforts to detect the disease before an invasive cancer is established is imperative. This proposal aims to study the development of pre-cancerous lesions to uncover new biomarkers.

Grantee: Artit Jirapatnakul, Ph.D.
Institution: Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY
Project Title: Modeling nodule measurement uncertainty using quantitative CT features
Award: $100,000 for two years

A model considering the characteristics of a patient’s specific lung nodule will enable personalized follow-up recommendations, optimizing lung screening protocols. This will improve lung cancer screening efficiency by reducing unnecessary workup while diagnosing lung cancer earlier.

Fellow: Lilianna Phan, Ph.D.
Institution: Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
Application Title: Optimizing Risk Communication about JUUL use for Young Adults
Award: $100,000 for two years

Little is known on how to effectively communicate the harm and addiction risks of the pod-type e-cigarette, JUUL, to young adults to prevent tobacco-associated cancer. This project will develop and test the effects of risk communication messages on young adults’ risk perceptions and use intentions.

Grantee: Jordana Phillips, M.D.
Institution: Beth Israel Deaconess/ Harvard Medical Center, Boston, MA
Project Title: Contrast Enhanced Mammography for Women with a History of Breast Cancer
Award: $100,000 for two years
Offering contrast-enhanced mammography (CEM) to women with a history of breast cancer as part of this prospective registry will increase cancer detection while demonstrating CEM’s overall performance in clinical practice.  These results can guide the greater use of CEM thereby improving early detection for more women.

Grantee: Amir Zarrinpar, Ph.D., M.D.
Institution: University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA
Project Title: Microbial DNA as a Diagnostic Marker for Hepatocellular Carcinoma
Award: $100,000 for two years
This proposal aims to use machine learning tools on microbial DNA as a biomarker of hepatocellular carcinoma. Early results show that this type of testing is far more accurate than any currently available test and could potentially impact how early we can detect disease and thus, improve outcomes.

Global grant recipients

Organization: Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services    
Title: Cervical Cancer Prevention among Female Sex Workers in Urban Cities in Cameroon
Location of Project: Cameroon
Award: $75,000 for one year

Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer morbidity and mortality in women in developing countries like Cameroon. This project will provide education, screening and treatment to female sex workers, who are vulnerable to cervical cancer and who are not likely to seek screening.

Organization: Duke University
HOPE: Women Empowering Women to Adopt New Technologies for Cervical Cancer Screening
Location of Project: 
$75,000 for one year 

The project will implement an innovative model of healthcare delivery that is community-based, relying on women empowering women to be active agents of change in their own health care. This model gives women privacy and agency over cervical cancer screening, allowing 98 out of every 100 women to complete care at home.

Organization: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
The Efficacy and Feasibility of Fecal Immunochemistry for Colorectal Cancer Screening in Nigeria
Location of Project: 
$75,000 for one year 

Colorectal cancer rates in Africa are rising, but there are limited data to guide screening in the region. This project will examine the accuracy and feasibility of a commonly used, inexpensive stool-based screening test as a vital step towards developing colorectal cancer screening programs in Africa.

Organization: Rice University
Point-of-Care Isothermal HPV DNA Amplification Test for Cervical Cancer Screening in Mozambique
Location of Project: 
$75,000 for one year 

Cervical cancer screening remains a challenge in resource-limited settings. The project team is developing and evaluating a new cervical cancer screening test that has the potential to be low-cost and high-performance, compared with existing technologies.

In addition to supporting research grants and fellowships and global projects, the Foundation also funds cancer prevention and early detection community grants in the U.S.

 About the Prevent Cancer Foundation®

The Prevent Cancer Foundation® is one of the nation’s leading voluntary health organizations and the only U.S. nonprofit organization focused solely on cancer prevention and early detection. Founded in 1985, it has catapulted cancer prevention to prominence and fulfills its mission through research, education, outreach and advocacy.

For more information, please visit