Large NCI Grants Boost Ohio State Cancer Research

The National Cancer Institute in 2017 awarded a number of large grants to teams of Ohio State researchers for innovative studies that support the OSUCCC – James vision of creating a cancer-free world. Here is a sampling of studies supported by NCI grants of more than $1 million:

  • A $12.7 million, five-year Program Progress Grant to OSUCCC Deputy Director Peter Shields, MD, and Dorothy Hatsumaki, PhD, of the University of Minnesota, for a series of comprehensive, systematic and integrated projects on the relative toxicity, addictiveness and appeal of unventilated vs. ventilated filter cigarettes. These projects will help the FDA determine whether it should pursue regulation of filter ventilation, which is thought to have led to public health harm. Shields also is principal investigator for a two-year, $1.36 million U01 grant to study the potential lung toxicity for inhaling electronic cigarette (e-cigs) aerosols relative to smoking. The FDA has gained regulatory control over e-cigs and needs data to determine how to regulate their designs and constituents.

  • $2.33 million to help a team led by principal investigator (PI) Qi-En Wang, PhD, and Co-PI David Cohn, MD, find ways to avert epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) recurrence and chemotherapy resistance, two contributing factors to high mortality rates among patients with this disease. Wang, an assistant professor in the Department of Radiology at Ohio State and member of the Molecular Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Program at the OSUCCC – James, says evidence increasingly shows that EOCs contain subpopulations of cancer stem cells with enhanced tumorigenicity and chemoresistance.

  • $2.3 million for a team led by principal investigators (PIs) Rosa Lapalombella, PhD (corresponding PI), Robert Baiocchi, MD, PhD, and John C. Byrd, MD, all of the Division of Hematology and of the Leukemia Research Program at the OSUCCC – James, for a study of “Targeted Therapies for Richter’s Transformation.” In their abstract, the investigators describe Richter’s Transformation (RT) as an aggressive blood cancer that arises when chronic lymphocytic leukemia makes the transition to a high-grade lymphoma. They seek to develop biomarkers for predicting RT development and to discover targeted therapeutic strategies for clinical trials.

  • $1.87 million for a team led by PI Richard Fishel, PhD, professor in the Department of Cancer Biology and Genetics at Ohio State and member of the Molecular Biology and Cancer Genetics Program at the OSUCCC – James, for a study titled “Mismatch Repair and Carcinogenesis.” In their abstract, the investigators state that defects in the human mismatch repair (MMR) genes are the cause of Lynch syndrome as well as 10-40 percent of sporadic colorectal, gastric, endometrial, ovarian and upper urinary tract tumors. Unrepaired errors in MMR-deficient cells lead to increased mutations that drive tumorigenesis. The team wants to quantify the MMR progressions that lead to cancer and drug resistance.

  • $1.77 million for a team led by PI Leah Pyter, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Ohio State and member of the Cancer Control Program at the OSUCCC – James, for a study titled “Gut-Brain Interactions Underlying Chemotherapy-Induced Behavioral Comorbidities.” In their abstract, the investigators state that very little is known about the potential role of the gut microbiome in the enduring and prevalent consequences of chemotherapy on the brain and behavior (e.g., cognitive impairments). Their overall objective is to determine the role of microbiome-brain interactions in chemotherapy-related cognitive problems.

  • $1.75 million for a team led by PIs Susheela Tridandapani, PhD, professor in the Division of Hematology, and Jon Butchar, PhD, research assistant professor in the Division of Hematology, for a study titled “Myeloid Cell-Derived Granzyme B as an Inducible Enhancer of Cancer Immunotherapy.” Both are members of the Leukemia Research Program at the OSUCCC – James. In their abstract, the investigators state that their long-term objective is to understand the molecular details of Fcγ receptor (FcγR) function, with the goal of improving monoclonal antibody therapy for cancer.

Researcher Lands Grant Aimed at Reducing Healthcare-Associated Infections

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) awarded a $1.89 million, five-year grant to Ann Scheck McAlearney, ScD, MS, professor and vice chair for research in the Department of Family Medicine at Ohio State, for a study on providing hospitals with evidence-based tools for reducing and preventing healthcare-associated infections (HAI). The grant, titled “Searching for Management Approaches to Reduce HAI Transmission (SMART),” will enable McAlearney, who is a member of the Cancer Control Program at the OSUCCC – James, and colleagues to develop a generalizable management practice SMART toolkit for use by hospitals and health systems nationwide. Read more

Radiation Oncologist Earns NIH Career Development Program Award

Darrion Mitchell, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Ohio State, earned an NIH K12 Clinical Scientist Career Development Program Award for his research titled “The Role of DEK in the Radiation Response and Outcome for HPV-Negative Head and Neck Cancer.” His co-mentors are James Rocco, MD, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery; and Arnab Chakravarti, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology.

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