The University of Florida Health Cancer Center has awarded the 2023 American Cancer Society Institutional Research Grant Pilot Projects, as part of its efforts to support early-stage investigators in cancer-related research studies. These projects, which are supported by Grant #21-139-01-IRG from the American Cancer Society, aim to address one of six research priorities: etiology, obesity/healthy eating and active living, screening and diagnosis, treatment, survivorship, and health equity across the cancer continuum.
The center has selected five researchers to receive the grants: Michalina Janiszewska, Ph.D., Megan Stanifer, Ph.D., John Ligon, M.D., Hyung-Suk Yoon, Ph.D., and William Donelan, Ph.D.
Michalina Janiszewska, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of molecular medicine at The Herbert Wertheim UF Scripps Institute for Biomedical Innovation & Technology, was awarded a grant for her project, titled “Digital pathology for quantitative ecotyping in glioblastoma,” which aims to develop a novel approach for quantifying the cellular and molecular heterogeneity of glioblastoma tumors. By leveraging advanced digital pathology techniques, her research aims to improve the diagnosis and treatment of this deadly form of brain cancer.
Megan Stanifer, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of molecular genetics and microbiology in the UF College of Medicine, was awarded a grant for her project, titled “Evaluating whether JCV infection leads to abortive or productive infections in human intestinal epithelial cells.” This project seeks to shed light on the mechanisms by which the JC virus infects human cells and may contribute to the development of intestinal diseases, including colon cancer.
John Ligon, M.D., an assistant professor in the department of pediatrics in the UF College of Medicine, was awarded a grant for his project, titled “Defining the tumor intrinsic and regional landscape of therapeutic RNA-nanoparticle transduction and immune activation following intravenous administration in diffuse midline glioma.” His project aims to develop a new approach for delivering RNA-based therapies to patients with diffuse midline glioma, a rare and deadly form of brain cancer.
Hyung-Suk “Alex” Yoon, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of surgery in the UF College of Medicine, was awarded a grant for his project, titled “Prognostic impact of blood-based biomarker panel among patients with surgically resected early-stage non-small cell lung cancer.” This project seeks to identify blood-based biomarkers that may predict the likelihood of recurrence and metastasis in patients with early-stage non-small cell lung cancer, a common and deadly form of cancer.
William Donelan, Ph.D., a research assistant scientist in the department of urology in the UF College of Medicine, was awarded a grant for his project, titled “Novel antibody-drug conjugates for the treatment of bladder cancer.” This project seeks to develop a new class of antibody-drug conjugates that can selectively target and kill bladder cancer cells, while sparing healthy tissues.
The American Cancer Society Institutional Research Grant Pilot Projects at the UF Health Cancer Center represent an important investment in the future of cancer research. By supporting early-stage investigators, the Cancer Center reinforces its commitment to advancing cancer research and improving the lives of those affected by this disease. Through this program, the Cancer Center aims to foster collaboration and innovation, accelerate progress in cancer research, and improve outcomes for patients in the geographic area it serves and beyond.