Prevent Cancer Foundation awards $1 million in new research grants

Kyra Meister 

Alexandria, Va. – The Prevent Cancer Foundation® is pleased to announce new funding for ten scientists who are researching cancer prevention and early detection. Each scientist has been awarded $100,000 for two years. Areas of focus include breast, cervical, colorectal, esophageal, head and neck, oral, penile, skin (including melanoma), stomach, uterine and ovarian cancers.

To honor the legacy of former Foundation board member, Congressman Victor “Vic” Fazio—who died of melanoma in March 2022—a $100,000 melanoma research grant was awarded for the second year.

A $100,000 grant focused on genetic testing is named in recognition of Bernard Levin, M.D., FACP, as he steps down from his role as the co-chair of the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s Scientific Review Panel, to honor his leadership in cancer prevention and early detection.

Read on for more on the 2024 research grantees or access more detailed information on their projects in the researcher database.

Grantee: Lisa Cannon-Albright, Ph.D.
Project title: A High-Risk Pedigree Approach to Identification of Predisposition Variants
Named award: Vic Fazio Memorial Fund
Position: Professor and Division Chief in the Division of Genetic Epidemiology
Institution: Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

Identification and detection of variants responsible for cancer predisposition is one of the most powerful tools for early detection, treatment and prevention of cancer; it requires unique resources and methods. This project will identify and validate multiple candidate cutaneous melanoma (CM) predisposition variants.

Grantee: Brian Capell, M.D., Ph.D.
Project Title: Dietary Fatty Acid Modulation for the Prevention of Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Named Award: Awesome Games Done Quick
Position: Assistant Professor of Dermatology and Genetics
Institution: The University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa.

Squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) are the most common cancers in the world and can frequently be deadly in the elderly and immunocompromised. This proposal aims to test a novel approach to preventing SCCs by altering the composition of fatty acids in the diet. The goal is to prevent both skin and head and neck oral SCCs.

Grantee: Perla Chebli, Ph.D.
Project Title: Promoting Vaccine Acceptance in Immigrant Youths and Adults
Named Award: Awesome Games Done Quick
Position: Assistant Professor
Institution: New York University Grossman School of Medicine, New York, N.Y.

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is an effective cancer prevention strategy against cancers affecting women and men, including cervical, vaginal, anal and oropharyngeal (back of the throat) cancers. This proposal aims to increase HPV vaccination in medically underserved, minority communities at greater risk for HPV-related cancers.

Grantee: Jennifer Hay, Ph.D.
Project Title: Addressing Low Awareness of the Cancer Harms of Alcohol in the Population
Named Award: Congressional Families Program
Position: Attending Psychologist
Institution: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, N.Y.

While most of the population drinks alcohol, most (70%) are not aware that it contributes to cancer risk. This study will address this awareness gap by determining the content needed for effective messages regarding the link cancer-alcohol link across diverse U.S. population subgroups, and then developing these novel messages to increase population awareness of the cancer harms of drinking.

Grantee: Minh Tung Phung, Ph.D.
Project Title: Risk-reducing Salpingectomy for Ovarian Cancer Precision Prevention
Position: Research Investigator
Institution: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich.

This project will explore the viewpoints of ovarian cancer survivors and at-risk people about what level of risk warrants surgery to prevent the disease. The researchers will also develop an interactive tool (risk calculator) to identify people with high risk of ovarian cancer who should consider surgical prevention.

Grantee: José Alejandro Rauh-Hain, M.D.
Project Title: IGNITE-TX (Identifying Individuals for Genetic Testing & Treatment)
Named Award: In honor of Bernard Levin, M.D., FACP, professor emeritus of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Position: Associate Professor
Institution: MD Anderson, Houston, Texas

The IGNITE-TX (Identifying Individuals for Genetic Testing & Treatment) intervention supports families from medically underserved communities who are at risk for hereditary cancer. This project will increase their understanding and access to genetics services and cancer prevention.

Grantee: Mya Roberson, Ph.D., MSPH
Project Title: We Got Us: Promoting Cancer Family History Sharing Among Black Americans
Named Award: Awesome Games Done Quick
Position: Assistant Professor
Institution: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, N.C.

A family history of cancer is a significant cancer risk factor, but many Black Americans are unaware of their family health history. Having a family history of cancer can affect the age at which cancer screening begins and genetic testing recommendations. In partnership with patient-led organization Touch4LifeTM This project will create culturally-relevant educational content to increase communication about a family history of cancer, as well as knowledge and awareness of genetic testing among Black families, to promote cancer prevention and early detection.

Grantee: Steve Skates, Ph.D. and Amy Bregar, M.D.
Project Title: Early Detection of Ovarian Cancer via Biomarker Discovery in Uterine Lavage
Named Award: Awesome Games Done Quick
Position: Associate Professor of Medicine (Biostatistics) and Assistant Professor in Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Medicine
Institution: Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Mass.

A test performed by a saltwater wash of the uterus may pick up signals of undetected ovarian cancer because of its proximity to the cancer prior to the signal appearing in the blood. A regular test analyzing a uterine wash could detect many ovarian cancers in early stages and thereby reduce death from ovarian cancer, since existing treatments are effective when the disease is detected in early stages.

Grantee: Matthew Stachler, M.D., Ph.D.
Project Title: Immune Determinants of Barrett’s Esophagus Progression
Named Award: The Shure Family Charitable Foundation in memory of Max Shure
Position: Assistant Professor of Pathology
Institution: University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, Calif.

Despite a known precursor, most esophageal cancers are detected late. Using clinical samples, the researchers will determine the inflammatory differences in the precancerous state in people with Barrett’s esophagus who do and do not progress to cancer in order to develop better early detection and treatment.

Grantee: Sherrie Flynt Wallington, Ph.D.
Project Title: Breast Density and Me: A Pilot Educational Intervention
Named Award: Marcia and Frank Carlucci Charitable Foundation
Position: Associate Professor
Institution: The George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

We urgently need to address health literacy gaps among Black women, who are more likely to be at increased risk for breast cancer and have higher breast cancer mortality rates. This study will inform Black women about their breast density and associated cancer risk and will promote follow-up visits and mammograms to save lives.

To view all past funded research grant and fellowship projects driving these key advancements in cancer prevention and early detection, explore the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s Award Database.


About the Prevent Cancer Foundation®

The Prevent Cancer Foundation® is the only U.S.-based nonprofit organization solely dedicated to cancer prevention and early detection. Through research, education, outreach and advocacy, we have helped countless people avoid a cancer diagnosis or detect their cancer early enough to be successfully treated. We are driven by a vision of a world where cancer is preventable, detectable and beatable for all

The Foundation is rising to meet the challenge of reducing cancer deaths by 40% by 2035. To achieve this, we are committed to investing $20 million for innovative technologies to detect cancer early and advance multi-cancer screening, $10 million to expand cancer screening and vaccination access to medically underserved communities, and $10 million to educate the public about screening and vaccination options.

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