Prevent Cancer Foundation® awards nine new research grants

Contact: Lisa Berry Edwards

Alexandria, VA—The Prevent Cancer Foundation is pleased to announce funding for nine scientists who are researching cancer prevention and early detection. Each scientist is being awarded $100,000 for two years. Areas of focus include the pancreas, esophagus, liver, lungs, skin, prostate, colon-rectum, and blood/bone marrow.

Here are the 2021 research grantees. Click here for more detailed information on their projects.

Grantee:  Limor Appelbaum, M.D.
Named Award: Awesome Games Done Quick
Position: Staff Scientist
Institution: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA
Project Title: Use of medical records and microbiome for predicting pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is usually diagnosed in advanced stages when cure is no longer possible. Early detection of this cancer can lead to cure. Dr. Appelbaum proposes a model that can identify people at high risk of pancreatic cancer to be recommended for screening, which can potentially save lives.

Grantee: Julie A. Barta, M.D., A.T.S.F.
Named Award: Richard C. Devereaux Outstanding Young Investigator Award
Position: Assistant Professor of Medicine
Institution: Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA
Application Title: Improving lung cancer screening barriers for vulnerable populations

Despite the advent of lung screening to identify cancers at early, curable stages, major disparities exist in screening uptake and adherence. This project will examine and alleviate financial and technological barriers for vulnerable populations to increase lung cancer early detection and survival rates.

Grantee: Neil BoxPh.D.
Position: Associate Professor
Institution: University of Colorado Denver, Anschutz Medical Campus and Denver Campus, Denver, CO
Project Title: Integrating sun damage indicators in melanoma risk modeling

Dr. Box and his team will study how skin damaged by ultraviolet radiation can predict melanoma risk in children of certain genetic makeup. Their work will identify high-risk groups and prove the value of our tools in personalized melanoma prediction and prevention.

Grantee: Sigrid Carlsson, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H.
Named Award: Awesome Games Done Quick
Position: Assistant Attending Epidemiologist
Institution: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY
Application Title: Improving prostate cancer screening using innovative technology

Dr. Carlsson and her team developed an innovative computer technology to help primary care physicians use “smarter” screening for prostate cancer for men who are most likely to benefit. The aim of this study is to test the usefulness of this computerized decision support tool in a large primary care network.

Grantee: Margie Clapper, Ph.D.
Position: Deputy Scientific Director/Professor/Co-Leader, Cancer Prevention and Control Program
Institution: The Research Institute of Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA
Project Title: Impact of atorvastatin with or without aspirin on colorectal biomarkers in patients with Lynch Syndrome: a pilot study

Lynch Syndrome (LS) is the most common genetic cause of colon cancer in people under age 50. Atorvastatin reduces colon microadenomas dramatically in mice. Understanding the effect of atorvastatin with or without aspirin on colon biomarkers is critical to developing a preventive therapy for LS patients.

Grantee: William Grady, M.D.
Named Award: The Shure Family Charitable Foundation
Position: Professor
Institution: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA
Project Title: Dysbiotic esophageal microbiomes and esophageal cancer risk

These studies have the potential to identify cancer-causing esophageal bacteria, which could lead to novel and improved ways to prevent cancer through more accurate cancer risk prediction. The studies could also lead to novel antibiotic or probiotic cancer prevention treatments for esophageal cancer.

Fellow: Natalia Heredia, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Position: Assistant Professor
Institution: The University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, TX 
Named Award: Marcia and Frank Carlucci Charitable Foundation
Project Title: Culturally tailored lifestyle intervention for Hispanic non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

The rate of new cases of liver cancer continues to increase in Hispanics, partially due to a condition called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Treatment for NAFLD includes weight loss, so by helping Hispanic NAFLD patients lose weight, we can prevent future cases of NAFLD-related liver cancer.

Grantee: Maro Ohanian, D.O.
Named Award: Triad Foundation, LLC
Position: Assistant Professor
Institution: University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
Project Title: Detoxification of environmental metals to prevent acute myeloid leukemia

Toxic metals are a modifiable risk factor associated with increased cancer risk. Dr. Ohanian aims to reverse carcinogenic effects of environmental/occupational metal exposures that can lead to acute myeloid leukemia (AML) by detoxifying metals in patients with myelodysplastic syndrome (pre-leukemia) as a novel cancer prevention method.

Fellow: Aayushi Uberoi, Ph.D.
Named Award: Awesome Games Done Quick
Position: Postdoctoral Scholar
Institution: University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Project Title: Modulating skin microbiota-host interactions to prevent UV-induced skin cancer

While the skin microbiome encounters the same ultraviolet B (UVB) exposure as the skin, the effects of UVB on the skin microbiome is unexplored. By exploring host-microbiome interactions during UVB-associated skin cancers, we can uncover a novel class of biomarkers and therapeutics for prevention of skin cancer.


About the Prevent Cancer Foundation®

The Prevent Cancer Foundation® is celebrating 35 years as the only U.S. nonprofit organization focused solely on saving lives across all populations through 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.

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.

For more information, please visit