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March 20, 2007

Grants for “Translational” Cancer Research

The SynCure Cancer Research Foundation has made two research grants to leading cancer research centers to help turn promising laboratory research into new cancer therapies. These winners for “Translational Research Grants for Young Investigators” were selected by SynCure’s Scientific Advisory Committee among competing proposals from a select group of leading comprehensive cancer centers. One grant will support the work of Kimberly Stegmaier, M.D., Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Investigator at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. She not only conducts basic research but also teaches pediatric residents and pediatric hematology/oncology fellows, and provides clinical care for her pediatric patients with malignancies and disorders of the blood, including patients who have undergone bone marrow transplantation. Dr. Stegmaier will use the grant to support her search, using new gene expression fingerprint technologies, for new drugs to treat T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. When told of winning the competition for one of the two grants, Dr. Stegmaier said, “There is a dire need for academic programs to lead drug discovery efforts for cancer, particularly for the more rare malignancies. My work addresses this challenge with the development and application of a gene expression-based approach to chemical screening for anti-cancer agents. Cutting-edge translational research is made possible by critical funding from programs such as SynCure.”

A second competitively awarded grant will support the research of Gabriela Chiosis, Ph.D., in the Department of Pharmacology and Chemistry at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York City. Dr. Chiosis’s research focuses on developing new drugs that target a specific molecule important to the progression of small cell lung cancer (SCLC). If this molecule can be successfully blocked (inhibited), it may lead to much better treatments for this particularly aggressive form of cancer. Without treatment, the median survival time from a diagnosis of SCLC is only 2-4 months. One of the new drugs being investigated by Dr. Chiosis is in Phase 1 clinical trials and another is in late-stage preclinical development. “Because limited therapeutic options exist for relapsed SCLC and because SCLC tend to be very aggressive, spread quickly and be particularly lethal, there should be more impetus to find better and more rational therapies”, said Dr. Chiosis. “Such efforts have been made possible through the generous research grant award of SynCure Cancer Research Foundation. In addition, it fills an important gap in the precarious state of current funding available for medical research”. Dr. Chiosis currently holds the Fredrick R. Adler Chair for Junior Faculty at MSKCC and also is an Assistant Professor of Pharmacology at the Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Cornell University.

 The SynCure Cancer Research Foundation, a nonprofit charitable organization, was founded by Florida State University chemistry professor Dr. Robert Holton, who is well known for his invention of the method used to make the cancer drug Taxol. In addition to supporting research, SynCure develops public education programs for cancer patients and survivors, their loved ones and caregivers, and health care support personnel. It has conducted numerous UPDATE: Cancer Research and Treatment symposia over the past four years in New York, New Jersey, Fort Lauderdale, Tallahassee and Illinois. For more information about the SynCure Cancer Research Foundation visit www.syncure.org or call 1-866-SYNCURE.