UF Health Cancer Center receives four American Cancer Society grants

The University of Florida Health Cancer Center recently received four grants from the American Cancer Society (ACS) that will help early-stage investigators involved in cancer research, further basic science efforts and ease the burdens of patients undergoing cancer treatment.

Institutional Research Grant

Jonathan Licht, M.D.

Jonathan Licht, M.D., director of the Cancer Center, received a $360,000 ACS Institutional Research Grant (IRG). The grant will enable the Cancer Center to provide competitive pilot funding for UF early-stage investigators engaging in cancer research that is relevant to the needs of the Center’s catchment area.

Through this mechanism, early-stage investigators who have not yet received a large extramural grant will be able to obtain funding to test innovative ideas and collect preliminary data to successfully compete for national peer-reviewed funding.

“We’re very grateful to the American Cancer Society for its collaboration with the UF Health Cancer Center and funding of the ACS IRG,” Licht said. “This grant offers resources to assist our very promising early-stage investigators in developing exciting new projects. We’re grateful to this society for its many donors and enabling this grant.”

The ACS IRG award mechanism is expected to be a major catalyst for early-stage faculty to pursue cancer-focused research that will impact the lives of patients with cancer and their families.

Colorectal cancer research grant

Mingyi Xie, Ph.D.

Mingyi Xie, Ph.D., associate professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology, received a $792,000 colorectal research grant for a study, titled “MicroRNA Turnover induced by Target RNAs in Colorectal Cancer.”

The project aims to address a novel mechanism in RNA molecular biology, called target RNA-directed miRNA degradation, in colorectal cancer. This project seeks to reveal a novel and essential layer of gene regulation by miRNA targets in cancer development. 

“By combining innovative biochemical and computational approaches, we are developing a highly accurate protocol to identify functional mRNA/miRNA pairs that can lead to miRNA degradation in CRC patient samples,” Xie said. “As a basic research scientist, getting the research scholar award to expand my lab’s translational research endeavor is essential to my career development.”

Transportation and housing grants

Karen E. Knudsen, M.B.A., Ph.D.

Patients undergoing cancer treatment often need transportation or lodging assistance. The Cancer Center recently received a $10,000 transportation grant. These funds are being used to address the transportation needs of patients, particularly vulnerable populations experiencing an unequal burden of cancer in Gainesville.

“Disparities arise from inequities in work, education, housing and overall standard of living,” said Karen E. Knudsen, M.B.A., Ph.D., chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “ACS collaborates with health system partners to reach individuals in areas with higher burdens of cancer and limited or no access to transportation because even the best treatment can’t work if a patient can’t get there.”

Additionally, patients undergoing cancer treatment sometimes travel far from home to receive care, which can create a financial burden. The ACS also recently awarded the Cancer Center a $75,000 housing grant to address the unmet lodging needs of cancer patients, particularly vulnerable populations experiencing an unequal burden of cancer.

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