Huntsman Cancer Institute aims to reduce deaths from cancer by applying knowledge we have in hand. This requires the transformation of scientific discoveries arising from laboratory, clinical, or population studies into clinical applications to reduce cancer incidence, morbidity, and mortality. Each year, the Director's Translational Research Initiative solicits proposals that address innovative concepts and experiments to develop diagnostic tests, cancer treatments, and other interventions that benefit people with, or at risk for, cancer.
In 2007, examples of translational research projects of interest to the review committee included, but were not limited to:
- molecular determinants of drug efficacy in humans, especially molecularly targeted agents (for example, altered pharmacokinetics in patients with hepatic or renal dysfunction, epigenetic alterations that affect drug response)
- novel diagnostic markers that predict tumor responsiveness to therapy
- novel diagnostic markers for presence of disease
- novel methods to measure minimal residual disease
- novel methods to predict, detect, and estimate risk of secondary cancer arising from prior treatments
- identification of novel compounds that interact specifically with molecular targets
- studies proposing novel clinical uses and/or novel mechanisms of action in existing drugs for the prevention or treatment of cancer
- studies aimed at the development of improved animal models of human cancer
- studies utilizing genetic resources to stratify clinical trial populations
Applications were accepted from members of the Cancer Center Support Grant programs as well as the Multidisciplinary Disease Groups of Huntsman Cancer Institute.
Up to $100,000 per year in support was provided. The number of grants awarded depended on available funds. Justified, no-cost expenditure extensions were considered. Support was not available for faculty salary. Funds could be used for salary support for MD fellows in medical oncology, hematology, or other medical disciplines.
NOTE: This program aims to reduce deaths from cancer by applying knowledge in clinical research on human subjects as expeditiously and safely as possible. It is not intended for bridge funding, pilot studies to gather correlative data or data of only archival significance, confirmatory studies in another model system, or other such purposes.
A panel of Cancer Center program leaders, senior leadership, and ad hoc reviewers evaluated and ranked the proposals, NIH-style.
Proposals were three to five pages long, concise, and sufficiently clear to be understood by members without special knowledge of the applicant's work.
Proposals were organized into the following sections:
- Abstract (up to 150 words)
- Specific aims
- Description of proposed research
- Projected outcomes and relevance to the cancer problem
The application cycle involved the following steps:
- call to submit proposals
- review of proposals
- invitations to make a 20-minute formal presentation to the review committee and other interested CCSG program members six to eight weeks after the proposal due date
- recommendations to HCI senior leadership of projects ranked for funding
- notification to applicants of the awards
The complete cycle, from call through funding, took approximately three months.
Proposals were judged based on the following review criteria:
- scientific merit
- potential to positively impact patient care
- collaborations between scientists and clinicians
- evidence of merit as judged by an external peer review panel, where funding was insufficient to support the project
Within one year of the award's termination date, one or more of the following accomplishments should be achieved, depending on the project type:
- publication in a highly ranked scientific journal
- implementation of a patient clinical trial
- application for external funding
- presentation of results at a national meeting
The Macrophage Stimulating Protein Pathway as a Therapeutic Target in Aggressive Breast Cancers
Principal Investigator: Alana Welm, PhD
Department: Oncological Sciences
Phase II Study Combining Targeted Therapy with Immunotherapy Using Imatinib Plus Pegylated Interferon ? in Imatinib-Naïve Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST) Patients
Principal Investigator: Lei Chen, MD, PhD
Department: Internal Medicine
A Randomized Control Study of the Use of Pre-operative Magnetic Resonance Imaging to Decrease Re-excision Rates in Breast Conserving Therapy
Principal Investigator: Mathias Schabel, PhD
Collaborators: Philip Bernard, MD; Glenn Morrell, MD, PhD; Edward Nelson, MD; Leigh Neumayer, MD, MS; Kathryn Puglia, MD; Aniko Szabo, PhD
Demethylating DNA in Patients with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Principal Investigator: Margaret Yu, MD
Department: Internal Medicine
Collaborators: John Philips, PhD; Zhong Chen, MD; Dave Bahler, MD
Targeted Combination Therapy of Pancreatic Cancer by Micelle-encapsulated Paclitaxel/Gemcitibine Combination and Focused Ultrasound
Principal Investigator: Natalya Rapoport, PhD
Collaborators: Courtney Scaife, MD; Mikhail Skliar, PhD; Dennis Parker, PhD
Targeting the Targets in Ewing's Sarcoma
Principal Investigator: Stephen Lessnick, MD, PhD
Collaborators: Don Ayer, PhD; Ken Boucher, PhD; Cheryl Coffin, MD; Sherrie Perkins, MD, PhD; Lor Randall, MD