PanCAN has made its largest-ever investment in research and research grants this year.
In 2022, 25 research grants have been awarded – including 16 newly awarded grants and nine extensions to support next steps of promising projects – totaling a record $10.5 million. Overall, PanCAN invested nearly $25 million in research this year, which includes our grants program as well as our transformational scientific and clinical initiatives, including the PanCAN Precision PromiseSM adaptive clinical trial and PanCAN’s Early Detection Initiative.
To date, PanCAN has awarded an incredible 234 grants to 213 scientists at 79 institutions. This year’s cohort includes 10 scientists receiving their first PanCAN grant and four new institutions that the organization hasn’t funded before. All grantees are selected through a peer-review process to ensure the merit and promise of the proposed projects.
“The diversity of all aspects of our grants program – career stage, types of projects, geographical location of the investigators and other demographics – is representative of the comprehensive approach PanCAN takes to make progress against pancreatic cancer,” said PanCAN Chief Science Officer Lynn Matrisian, PhD, MBA.
The PanCAN 2022 Research Grants Program includes three categories: funding early-career investigators, supporting projects aiming to improve treatment options for patients and projects focused on devising effective early detection strategies.
Funding Early-career Investigators
Since the inception of PanCAN’s Research Grants Program in 2003, we’ve directed funding toward early-career investigators to support the establishment of their labs and their focus on pancreatic cancer. This year’s grants portfolio includes seven new Career Development Award recipients and one extension to a Career Development Award originally funded in 2020. The new Career Development Awards provide $250,000 in funding – up from $200,000 in previous years – over a two-year period. The extension will provide $100,000 for one year.
This year’s Career Development Award new and extension recipients are:
- Brittany Allen-Petersen, PhD, Purdue University, funded by The Rockhammer Charitable Fund
- Jashodeep Datta, MD, University of Miami
- G. Aaron Hobbs, PhD, Medical University of South Carolina Hollings Cancer Center, in memory of Skip Viragh
- Janielle Maynard, PhD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
- Jami Saloman, PhD, University of Pittsburgh, in memory of Skip Viragh
- Rahul Shinde, PhD, The Wistar Institute
- Kea Turner, PhD, Moffitt Cancer Center
- Gillian Gresham, PhD, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, funded by the George & June Block Family Foundation (grant extension)
Although considerable progress has been made toward the treatment of patients with pancreatic cancer, there are still too few effective treatment options available. PanCAN is committed to funding innovative research in the lab and clinic to bring forth new and more effective treatment options to help patients live longer and better lives.
With the intention of accelerating progress in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector to develop new investigational drugs that can be tested through the PanCAN Precision Promise adaptive clinical trial, we introduced the Therapeutic Accelerator Award this year. The inaugural PanCAN Therapeutic Accelerator Award went to Verastem Oncology to support early-phase clinical trial testing of their investigational drugs VS-6766 and defactinib, a RAF/MEK clamp and a FAK inhibitor, respectively.
In addition to $3.8 million in funding to support Verastem’s early-phase clinical trial, the PanCAN Therapeutic Accelerator Collaborative was formed as a partnership between Verastem, the academic community and PanCAN to further study the investigational treatment combination and consider strategies to enhance its effectiveness. The Collaborative is co-led by Gregory L. Beatty, MD, PhD, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania; Lynn Matrisian, PhD, MBA, PanCAN; and Jonathan Pachter, PhD, Verastem Oncology. The projects being conducted through the Collaborative aim to identify and mitigate potential ways the tumor may be or become resistant to the investigational treatment, determine if other drugs could enhance its effects and find out if certain tumor characteristics could suggest which patients would be most likely to benefit from the treatment.