American Cancer Society renews UCI cancer research funding

Seed grant supports basic sciences and clinical cancer research

February 06, 2017

The American Cancer Society has renewed its Institutional Research Grant award to the UCI Cancer Research Institute to fund cancer research and support the development of new investigators in basic sciences and clinical cancer-related problems.

The $360,000 award will be distributed over three years to fund direct research costs for 12 projects.  UCI’s application received the highest rating of ‘outstanding’ in the American Cancer Society’s evaluation.

“For more than decade, UC Irvine’s partnership with the American Cancer Society has provided provide seed money and start-up funds for promising new cancer research,” said Edward L. Nelson, MD, chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology, UC Irvine School of Medicine. Nelson is co-principal investigator of the ACS award, along with Dr. Charles Limoli of the UCI Cancer Research Institute.

Nelson said the UCI Office of Research and the UCI Health Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center provided substantial matching funds. This seed funding provides pilot grants for basic science, epidemiological, cancer control, psychosocial/behavioral medicine, health policy and clinical cancer research.

Research funding from the National Institutes of Health hasn’t changed in real dollars in decades, making awards from private organizations like the American Cancer Society increasingly important in supporting basic sciences and clinical research for cancer.

 “The goal of the Society is to reduce the burden of cancer through research, education, services to patients and their families, information and advocacy,” said American Cancer Society Vice President Paula Aspiazu, in awarding the grant. “This acknowledges our ability to make vita contributions to the control of cancer.”

The Society awarded its first Institutional Research Grant to UC Irvine in 2005 and the award has been successfully renewed twice previously, Nelson said.

“Like UC Irvine, the American Cancer Society recognizes that cancer is a multifaceted problem that requires funding to support a wide range of cancer-related investigations,” Nelson said.

In addition to advancing knowledge with basic and applied research, major research institutions like UCI must also recruit, develop and support the work of young faculty, Nelson said. The ACS grant, along with matching UCI funds, supports this work.

Recent ACS grant recipients and projects include:

  • Matthew Inlay, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, “Identifying the precursor to hematopoietic stem cells in the mouse embryo and improving its engraftment upon transplantation”
  • Devon Lawson, Physiology & Biophysics, “Identification of new approaches to treat metastatic disease”
  • Elizabeth Brem, Department of Medicine, “Evaluating mitochondrial priming in T-cell lymphomas”
  • Wenqi Wang, Developmental & Cell Biology, “Hippo Signaling and Breast Cancer Therapy”
  • Hannah Park, Epidemiology, “Circulating DNA methylation markers for breast cancer in patients undergoing breast biopsy: a pilot study”
  • Jason Samarasena, Department of Medicine, “Importin α is a novel biomarker of Barrett’s esophagus-related dysplasia & cancer and promotes growth of Barrett’s-derived cancer cells by inducing aberrant VEGF expression”
  • Peter McHale, Center for Complex Biological Systems, “Dissecting the origins of melanoma: A systems biology approach”
  • Munjal Acharya, Department of Radiation Oncology, “Neurobiological basis of chemotherapy-induced cognitive dysfunction”
  • David Buchbinder, Department of Pediatrics, “Passing the Baton: Parents and Transitioning Brain Tumor Survivor Care”
  • Irene Pedersen, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, “miR-23b Regulation of Tight Junction Formation and Augmentation of Lung Cancer Metastasis”

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