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