THE HIRSHBERG FOUNDATION FOR PANCREATIC CANCER RESEARCH ANNOUNCES THE 2012-2013 SEED GRANT AWARD RECIPIENTS
LOS ANGELES, Calif., – (November 1, 2012) – Known for supporting budding young scientists and being a strong and dominant leader throughout the pancreatic cancer research community, the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research announces the 2012-2013 Seed Grant Award recipients. The Seed Grant Award provides start-up funding for basic scientists and clinicians to test innovative ideas for improving diagnostics as well as develop new treatment modalities with a current approach to the understanding of pancreatic cancer.
The Hirshberg Foundation launched the Seed Grant program in 2000 to scientific investigators from major cancer centers in the United States. The success of the grant recipients in publishing and attracting National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding has been instrumental in advancing scientific research. The Seed Grant program continues to promote the expansion of pancreatic cancer programs nationally and internationally in addition to collaborations within the scientific community.
“We are changing global research efforts through the Hirshberg Foundation’s Seed Grant Program,” said Agi Hirshberg, president and founder of the Hirshberg Foundation. “Our joint efforts on all fronts could change the outcome of a pancreatic cancer diagnosis, but private funding still remains the hope for a cure and this means our call to action is stronger than ever.”
Out of 44 submissions, seven were honored with the 2012-2013 Seed Grant Award:
Alexandros Tzatsos, M.D., Ph.D.
Instructor in Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center
• Research Thesis: “Validation of the histone demethylase KDM2B as a new therapeutic target in pancreatic cancer”
Anne Coscarelli, Ph.D.
Clinical Professor of Psychology at the University of California Los Angeles
• Research Thesis: “Providing optimal psychosocial support to patients and families through the journey of pancreatic cancer”
Ido Wolf, M.D.
Senior Lecturer, Tel Aviv University at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center’s Oncology Department
• Research Thesis: “The hormone klotho: a novel regulator of the ERK1/2 cascade in pancreatic adenocarcinoma”
Isidore Rigoutsos, Ph.D.
Director of Computational Medicine Center at Thomas Jefferson University
• Research Thesis: “New Vistas for Gene Regulation in Pancreatic Cancer”
Mouad Edderkaoui, Ph.D.
Research Scientist at Brentwood Biomedical Research Institute
• Research Thesis: “Targeting EMT pathway as a promising strategy for pancreatic cancer treatment”
Parkash Gill, M.D.
Professor of Medicine and Pathology at University of Southern California (Hematology Department)
• Research Thesis: “Role of EphB4 in Kras Mutant PDAC”
Qing-Yi Lu, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor & Core Director at the University of California Los Angeles
• Research Thesis: “The Phytonutrient Core of the UCLA Center for Excellence in Pancreatic Diseases”
With the assistance of the Seed Grant Award, a previous recipient recently made an exciting advancement in pancreatic cancer research. Dr. Ashok Saluja, Ph.D., Professor and Vice Chair of Research for the Department of Surgery at the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center was a Hirshberg Foundation Seed Grant Award recipient in 2007. He discovered the revelation of Minnelide as a promising treatment for pancreatic cancer. The first human trials with Minnelide will begin in 2013. Minnelide is a novel new drug for pancreatic cancer that is based on triptolide, a compound extracted from a Chinese plant and serves as an effective protective protein inhibitor (HSP70) that kills pancreatic tumor cells. The early support Dr. Saluja received from the Hirshberg Foundation served as a major cornerstone for funding obtained from the NIH ($2.6 million) and other sources ($2 million). It is the relentless and passionate goal of the Hirshberg Foundation to focus on early detection and new treatment options. By continuing to sustain the Seed Grant Program and award well-deserved and talented scientists, the Hirshberg Foundation lays the basis for future breakthroughs and eventually finding a cure.
To date, the Hirshberg Foundation funded Seed Grant Award recipients $45 million dollars in NIH grants and raised more than $12 million for pancreatic cancer research. The research mission of the Foundation focuses on the physiology, early diagnosis, treatment and prevention of pancreatic cancer. The Foundation’s programs began at UCLA in 1997 and supports basic science, translational research, as well as a pancreas tissue bank. The programs initially funded by the Foundation at UCLA are now supported by NIH grants.
About the Hirshberg Foundation: Founded in 1997, the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to advancing pancreatic cancer research, and providing information, resources and support to pancreatic cancer patients and their families.
Established by Agi Hirshberg, whose husband Ronald died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 54, the foundation includes the Ronald S. Hirshberg Translational Pancreatic Cancer Research Laboratory; the Ronald S. Hirshberg Chair in Translational Pancreatic Cancer Research; and the Hirshberg Pancreatic Cancer Information Center.
November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. Pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of all major cancers. In over 40 years, it still remains one of the few cancers for which the survival rate has not improved substantially. Pancreatic cancer is a leading cause of cancer death largely because there are no detection tools to diagnose the disease in its early stages when surgical removal of the tumor is still possible. For more information on the Seed Grant Award Program, the Hirshberg Foundation or pancreatic cancer, visit www.pancreatic.org.