The AACR’s network of partnerships yielded several new funding opportunities in 2020:
Michael D. Story, PhD
Inaugural Recipient (2019)
AACR-Novocure Tumor Treating Fields (TTFields) Research Grant
Narasimha Kumar Karanam, PhD
AACR-Novocure Career Development Award for Tumor Treating Fields Research
Michael D. Story, PhD (above right), is the David A. Pistenmaa Distinguished Chair in Radiation Oncology at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Narasimha Kumar Karanam, PhD (above left), is an Instructor in the same department and has worked in Dr. Story's laboratory since 2012. Both mentor and mentee have received AACR grants to advance their research, an example of the AACR's commitment to supporting innovative cancer science at all career stages.
In 2019, the AACR partnered with Novocure to launch a grants program with the goal of promoting and supporting innovative research on Tumor Treating Fields (TTFields)—a cancer therapy that uses electric fields tuned to specific frequencies to disrupt cell division, inhibiting tumor growth and causing affected cancer cells to die. The program offers three types of support: fellowships for postdoctoral and clinical fellows, career development awards for early-career scientists, and independent research grants for established investigators.
Dr. Story was an inaugural recipient of the AACR-Novocure Tumor Treating Fields (TTFields) Research Grant for independent investigators in 2019 for his work to combine TTFields with chemotherapeutic agents that increase replication stress in lung and pancreatic cancer models. A year later, in 2020, Dr. Karanam received a AACR-Novocure Career Development Award for Tumor Treating Fields Research to support his exploration of the therapeutic potential of combining E2F and CDK4/6 inhibitors with TTFields.
Drs. Story and Karanam hope that their work will lead to future clinical trials for novel combinatorial therapeutics involving TTFields. “It is especially gratifying to see your findings begin to be translated to clinical applications,” noted Dr. Story. “Even if it is not a one-to-one transfer, you can see the seed planted by your work.”
Dr. Karanam expressed his gratitude for the support provided by the AACR and Novocure: "This award affords me the opportunity to understand the system level effects of TTFields exposure through trans-omics approaches in order to find novel combination therapies that can be translated into tangible benefits for cancer patients."
Blog post: Learn more about the work of Drs. Story and Karanam.
Grants were awarded in 2020 to meritorious scientists from 36 institutions to support groundbreaking research in all areas of cancer science.
Applications were evaluated for AACR grants in 2020; applicants were from the United States and 29 other countries.
Amount of research grant funding awarded to 27 postdoctoral and clinical fellows to boost their career development and sustain the next generation of cancer scientists.
Amount awarded to 29 independent investigators at all career levels—including young investigators, mid-career researchers, and established scientists—to support groundbreaking cancer science.
Expert scientists served on 18 scientific review committees to select the 2020 grant recipients through a rigorous peer-review process. The AACR is a trusted administrator of research grants, providing expert peer review that is fair, rigorous, transparent, and timely.
A division of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) supports collaboration and innovation in translational cancer research to accelerate the development of new cancer treatments. As the Scientific Partner of SU2C, the AACR provides expert peer review and grants administration, ensuring that SU2C’s investment in research has the greatest benefit for cancer patients.
Team science is at the core of SU2C’s mission. In January, with oversight from the AACR, SU2C launched a new research team focusing on stomach (gastric) cancer, the world’s third leading cause of cancer death.
Many gastric cancers are detected at an advanced stage when they are difficult to treat. Under the guidance of team leader Andrew T. Chan, MD, MPH, and coleader Sandra Ryeom, PhD, this new team will conduct studies to identify biomarkers that would identify the presence of gastric cancer and support interception at an earlier stage. The three-year, $3 million team grant is supported by generous grants from the Cless Family Foundation and the Sara and Jeff Schottenstein Family Charitable Fund.
Named for the chair of the SU2C Scientific Advisory Committee, these awards bring together leading scientists to collaborate on critical problems in cancer research and identify novel solutions. In July, SU2C announced the launch of five new projects, with each team receiving up to $250,000 to pursue ideas that will accelerate progress for the benefit of cancer patients:
The Pancreatic Cancer Collective (PCC) is a strategic partnership between SU2C and the Lustgarten Foundation that is focused on improving outcomes for a disease with a current five-year survival rate of nine percent. With the support of the AACR the collective made more progress toward that goal in 2020: