Grants Boost Cancer Research

This story appears in the Winter 2016 issue of the Life.Giving.Breakthroughs. donor newsletter.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) awarded two new grants totaling more than $1.5 million to up-and-coming physician‒scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital for their efforts to better understand and treat ovarian and colorectal cancers—diseases that cause an estimated 64,000 deaths annually in the United States.

“Junior investigators are the future of cancer research,” says ACS CEO Gary Reedy. “However, most have not yet built an established track record many federal agencies look for when reviewing applications. We hope these recent grants to Brigham and Women’s Hospital will help propel promising work to the next level and foster young physician‒scientists.”

ACS awarded Margaret McLaughlin-Drubin, PhD, associate virologist in infectious diseases, a $792,000 Research Scholar Award to pursue new, personalized therapies to stop tumor cell growth in ovarian cancer, a disease that can remain undiagnosed until much later in its progression, when treatments often become ineffective.

“I am honored to receive this award, and hopeful the study will ultimately lead to earlier ovarian cancer detection,” says McLaughlin-Drubin.

The organization also gave a $726,000 Mentored Research Scholar Grant in Applied and Clinical Science to Paulette Chandler, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and associate epidemiologist in the Division of Preventive Medicine and a primary care physician at BWH. Chandler aims to uncover links between nutrition and colorectal cancer risk, with the goal of prompting new therapies and dietary recommendations. Her research focuses on metabolomics, or the systematic study of small molecules present in blood. The pattern of metabolites will map to dietary factors that may be more common in those who eat a Western versus Mediterranean diet.

“I’m so grateful for this grant, which will allow me to explore a completely new avenue in colorectal cancer research,” Chandler says.

ACS has been supporting BWH research dating back to the 1960s, and has given $5.4 million since 2013 alone, when the hospital launched its $1 billion Life.Giving.Breakthroughs. campaign– a campaign goal that has since extended to $1.5 billion.

“We have confidently invested in Brigham and Women’s Hospital over time because the proposed research has been outstanding and worthy of support based on the advice of our panel of experts,” says Reedy.