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Stand Up To Cancer awards Dana-Farber Cancer Institute researchers with Innovative Research Grants


  • December 07, 2009
  • Tags: Honors

Dana-Farber scientists garner four of 13 grants meted out nationally

Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) announced today that it is awarding $9.68 million to support high-risk/high-reward cancer research conducted by 13 young scientists in the United States, including four investigators based at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute: Charles Roberts, MD, PhD, Kim Stegmaier, MD, Loren Walensky, MD, PhD, and David Weinstock, MD.

charles-roberts.jpgCharles Roberts, MD, PhD 

Over a three-year period, each investigator will receive a total of up to $750,000 as part of SU2C's Innovative Research Grants program, which supports the next generation of cancer research leaders.

"To have four recipients is a great honor for Dana-Farber," said Edward J. Benz, Jr., MD, president of Dana-Farber. "This success speaks to the quality of our young investigators, the promise of their research and vision, and the investments we have made in turning scientific discoveries into new therapies for patients."

kimberly-stegmaier.jpgKimberly Stegmaier, MD 

Stand Up To Cancer's funding model for the Innovative Grants was designed specifically to support work that utilizes new ideas and new approaches to solve critical problems in cancer research.

These innovative projects are characterized as "high-risk" because they challenge existing paradigms, and because in order to receive a grant the applicants were not required, as they would be by most conventional funding mechanisms, to have already conducted a portion of the research resulting in an established base of evidence.

If successful, the projects have the potential for "high reward" in terms of saving lives.

loren-walensky.jpgLoren Walensky, MD, PhD 

Roberts, who is an assistant professor of Pediatrics at Dana-Farber, Children's Hospital Boston, and Harvard Medical School (HMS), will study treatments that target the epigenome in aggressive pediatric cancers.

Stegmaier, who is an assistant professor of Pediatrics at Dana-Farber, Children's, and HMS, will investigate the modulation of transcription factor abnormalities in pediatric cancer.

Walensky, who is an associate professor of Pediatrics at Dana-Farber, Children's, and HMS, will conduct research of transformative technology to capture and drug new cancer targets.

david-weinstock.jpgDavid Weinstock, MD 

Weinstock, who is also an instructor in medicine at Dana-Farber, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and HMS, will focus on functional oncogene identification.

The grant selection process began in late 2008 with a call for Letters of Intent from young researchers in the early stages of their careers. The 45-member Innovative Research Grants Review Committee considered 412 eligible letters in an intense, multi-step evaluation process.

The group was narrowed to 73 semi-finalists who were invited to submit full research proposals. The list was narrowed again, to 19 finalists who made in-person presentations to the Grants Review Committee. From that group, the committee selected the 13 recipients.

The committee evaluated the submissions using these criteria: potential for high-risk/high-reward; innovation in method or approach; potential for significant translation to clinical application; promise to improve and save the lives of cancer patients; and potential to develop into a Dream Team project.

"The Innovative Grant recipients are thinking broadly and creatively, with one end goal in mind: making scientific progress to save lives from cancer," noted Margaret Foti, Ph.D, M.D. (h.c.), chief executive officer of the American Association for Cancer Research.

"We are at a very important juncture in cancer research; its pace is increasingly rapid, and that enhances the speed at which we can move new discoveries out of the lab and into the clinic. Support for the next generation of remarkable young scientists is critical to ensuring that we continue to accelerate that pace."

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