2008 Spring Awardees

2008 Spring Awardees

2008 Spring Research Awardees

Subhashini Jagu, Ph.D.
Richard Roden, Ph.D.
Johns Hopkins University

Commercial HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccines currently only target two of the 15 known HPV types that cause cancer and these vaccines are expensive — costing over $300 per patient. The Foundation is supporting Subhashini Jagu, Ph.D., at Johns Hopkins University, under the guidance of Richard Roden, Ph.D., to develop a more cost-effective vaccine that protects more broadly against HPV infection, and ultimately, cervical cancer.

Animesh Barua, Ph.D.
Rush University

Catching ovarian cancer early increases patient survival by 80-90 percent, but currently there is no reliable technique to detect ovarian cancer in its initial stages. The Foundation is funding Amish Barua, Ph.D., at Rush University to combine enhanced ultrasound with a serum marker to create a reliable and sensitive screening method for ovarian cancer.

Maarten Bosland, D.V.Sc, Ph.D.
University of Illinois at Chicago

There is growing body of evidence to suggest that eating high levels of soy protein could reduce a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer. Maarten Bosland, D.V.Sc., Ph.D., at the University of Illinois at Chicago has been granted funding from Prevent Cancer to complete an ongoing Phase II clinical trial that studies the preventive effects of soy on the prostate. This study will seek to identify the critical links between eating soy and preventing prostate cancer.

Jed Fahey, Sc.D. (photo not available)
Johns Hopkins University

Individuals digest and absorb foods differently. Some researchers believe that people who efficiently convert glucosinolates, compounds from vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, into isothiocyanate compounds, might benefit more from the anticancer properties of these vegetables. The Foundation is funding Jed Fahey, Sc.D., at Johns Hopkins University to study the concept that a person’s diet and the bacteria in his or her gastrointestinal tract may determine how much of a prevention boost he or she can receive from consuming fruits and vegetables. This project could take the first step in correlating disease incidence with gastrointestinal metabolism.

M. Naomi Horiba, M.D., M.P.H. (photo not available)
Martin Edelman, M.D. (Mentor)
University of Maryland
Foundation Partnership Grant: IASLC Young Investigator Award

Lung cancer is the leading killer of both men and women in the U.S. Because tumor progression is associated with immune dysfunction, one approach to improve the survival of lung cancer patients is by targeting tumor associated immune dysregulation. The hypothesis of this proposal is that the suppression of the normal immune response in patients with non small cell lung cancer (tumor tolerance) is a critical determinant of patient outcome. Dr. M. Naomi Horiba, under the guidance of Dr. Martin Edelman, will investigate whether inhibiting the regulatory molecule COX-2 leads to a decrease in MDSCs (a cell type known to promote tumor tolerance) and thus a decrease in the ability of the tumor to grow.

Lauren Trepanier, D.V.M, Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin – Madison

Studies have suggested that certain lifestyle choices, such as smoking tobacco and eating charred meats, might increase a patient’s risk for breast cancer by introducing cancer-causing chemicals into the patient’s body. Prevent Cancer grant recipient, Lauren Trepanier, D.V.M., Ph.D., at the University of Wisconsin – Madison has a theory to explain those findings. She will study two enzymes found at varying concentrations in breast tissue that may render these chemicals harmless. Trepanier will examine if women with low levels of these enzymes are at higher risk for breast cancer. These studies could improve patients’ understanding of their risk of breast cancer and may help patients make lifestyle choices.

Pak Kim Wong, Ph.D.
University of Arizona

Studies suggest that the protein Nrf2, which regulates the body’s natural defenses, could be a key target for cancer prevention drugs. The Foundation supports Pak Kin Wong, Ph.D., at the University of Arizona in Tucson in his efforts to develop a rapid screening system for identifying new compounds that affect Nrf2 and the body’s natural cellular defenses. Understanding how these chemopreventive compounds work could be a leap forward in the prevention of many types of cancer. Additionally, this study will provide valuable information about the regulation of important genes.

Karen Wernli, M.D., Ph.D. (photo not available)
Polly Newcomb, Ph.D., M.P.H. (Mentor)
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Foundation Partnership Grant: American Society for Preventive Oncology (ASPO)

More women every year are living with a diagnosis of breast cancer, and each survivor hopes to make choices which positively influence her survival. The Foundation is supporting Karen Wernli, M.D., Ph.D., under the guidance of Polly Newcomb, Ph.D, M.P.H, to study how medications and vitamins affect death from breast cancer. The researchers believe that use of aspirin and non-aspirin-like medications and vitamins will lead to fewer deaths from breast cancer and that use of antidepressants will lead to more deaths from breast cancer.

Yanping Zhang, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill

Identifying genes involved in breast cancer  development is key to developing new medications that target the cancerous cells and to improving genetic screening guidelines. The Foundation is supporting Koji Itahana, Ph.D., at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill to study the role of a protein, p32, in killing breast cancer cells and preventing tumor formation. This work may increase our understanding of breast cancer genetics and lay the groundwork for identifying a new gene to help physicians assess cancer risk in patients.

Note: Originally awarded to Koji Itahana, Ph.D., who conducted the first year of research before leaving UNC-Chapel Hill, this grant was transferred to and completed by Yanping Zhang, Ph.D.