The application process is now open for BCAN’s Young Investigator Awards. The deadline to submit applications is March 4, 2015. For 2015 there will be up to two awards of $100,000 each over a two-year period.
Raising the bar on research, BCAN launched its Young Investigator Awards in 2013, comprised of three research awards of $100,000 each, over a two-year period. The goal of these grants is to support the development of outstanding research scientists and clinical cancer research investigators who have demonstrated a commitment to improving the understanding and treatment of bladder cancer. These grants fund researchers who work in basic, translational, clinical, epidemiologic, bioengineering or any other scientific or research field, but are also working in a research environment capable of supporting transformational bladder cancer research.
BCAN would like to recognize the generosity of The JPB Foundation for under-writing two of the 2014 Young Investigator Awards. The New York based philanthropy works to enhance the quality of life in the United States through transformational initiatives that promote the health of our communities by creating opportunities for those in poverty, promoting pioneering medical research, and enriching and sustaining our environment.
The program was seeded through a $250,000 challenge grant received from the Gerald C. McNamara and Renée K. Petrofes Charitable Fund. BCAN responded by raising more than $500,000 in additional private funds to further develop the program. In its inaugural year, BCAN distributed three awards with two of them named after prominent supporters of bladder cancer research whose families have been directly affected by the disease: the Raymond and Maria Floyd Family Young Investigator Award and the James Family Young Investigator Award.
BCAN President and Co-Founder, Diane Zipursky Quale, remarked on the impact a program of this magnitude can have on bladder cancer research. “We are excited about being able to offer awards that are large enough to have significant impact on new research being undertaken throughout the country,” she said. “Research in bladder cancer is woefully underfunded, so we are incredibly grateful to our supporters for contributing private dollars to help young, innovative investigators stay in the field of bladder cancer research.”
Applications are open to researchers and clinicians across the United States and Canada. Given BCAN’s position in the bladder cancer community, as well as our relationship with the key members of the research community, we aim to attract the “best and brightest” to compete for these Young Investigator Awards.
Applications are judged on the quality of the applicant’s research plan and the resources and environment available to the applicant, including the ability of the primary mentor and relevant department to provide appropriate guidance and protected time during the award period. Please check back here for information about applying for the 2014 Young Investigator Awards. For all questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is a two-step review process to select the Award recipients. A multi-disciplinary Scientific Review Group comprised of bladder cancer experts score the applications based on the merits of the research proposals. The award review process is based on the same peer review system utilized by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The final scores for each applicant are then sent to the BCRN Management Committee which accepts the scientific merit scores. The Management Committee recommends the final award decision for approval by the BCAN Board of Directors. Only the best research projects are funded.
In addition to the Young Investigator Awards, BCAN announced the Bladder Cancer Innovation Research Award in January 2014. This new award, supported by the James Family Foundation, in conjunction with Partner Fund Management, will support the work of one investigator with an exceptionally novel and creative project with great potential to produce a breakthrough in the management of bladder cancer. The Innovation Award will fund $300,000 over two years. Applicants may apply for one award – the Young Investigator Award or the Innovation Research Award.
BCAN Young Investigator Award
Sunny Guin, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Colorado at Denver
Project Title: The Role, Relationship and Therapeutic Potential of HAS2 and AGL in Bladder Cancer
For his project, Dr. Guin investigate the importance of the HAS2/HA pathway as a driver of aggressive behavior of bladder cancer tumors with low expression of AGL, an enzyme involved in breaking down glycogen. Hyaluronic acid synthase 2 (HAS2) is an enzyme responsible for making hyaluronic acid (HA). He will also determine whether reduced levels of AGL lead to increased risk for bladder cancer tumor formation and more aggressive tumors. This data could provide biomarkers to select patients for treatment that inhibits the HAS2/HA pathway.
JPB Foundation Young Investigator Award
Ryoichi Saito, M.D., Ph.D.
Research Associate, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Project Title: Consequences of ARID1A Inactivation in Bladder Cancer
The award will support Dr. Saito’s research project to better understand the role of ARID1A mutation in bladder cancer. ARID1A, a gene that modifies proteins attached to DNA called histones, has been found to be significantly mutated in previous studies, and its inactivation is a likely driver event in bladder cancer tumor formation. Dr. Saito will also investigate whether ARID1A mutant cells may be sensitive to inhibition of a protein called PI3Kinase.
JPB Foundation Young Investigator Award
Dmitriy Zamarin, M.D., Ph.D.
Hematology/Oncology Fellow, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Project Title: Defining Immunotherapy Targets in Bladder Cancer Microenvironment Using Oncolytic Viruses
The award will support Dr. Zamarin’s research project to examine using an oncolytic virus called Newcastle Disease Virus (NDV) to activate the immune system to recognize cancer cells, and using NDV with other immunotherapies to combat metastatic bladder cancer. Dr. Zamarin will also work on identifying immune resistance mechanisms in bladder cancer and developing new immune therapeutic approaches using NDV.
BCAN Young Investigator Award
David DeGraff, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Project Title: Transcriptional Control of Bladder Cancer Tumorigenesis
The award will help support Dr. DeGraff’s research project to investigate gene expression of two transcription factors which regulate cell behavior: FOXA1 and AP2 gamma, and their role in bladder cancer risk. Expression of FOXA1 has been found to be significant for prostate and breast cancer patients. He will test the hypothesis that overexpression of AP2 gamma is associated with an increased risk of developing bladder cancer. He will also look at whether a using new inhibitor that targets bladder cancer tumors with high expression of AP2 gamma can make chemotherapy more effective in treating the disease.
James Family Young Investigator Award
Gopa Iyer, MD
Clinical Instructor, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Project Title: Identifying Predictors of Response to mTOR-targeted Therapies in Bladder Cancer
The award will support Dr. Iyer’s research project to examine the role of the Tuberous Sclerosis 1 (TSC1) gene in bladder cancer tumors. This gene, TSC1, was identified as the genetic basis for a metastatic bladder cancer patient’s complete response to treatment with the targeted agent everolimus. Dr. Iyer’s goal is to improve understanding of the genetic alterations in bladder cancer to identify patients who will most likely benefit from targeted therapies in this disease.
Raymond and Maria Floyd Family Young Investigator Award
Debashis Sahoo, PhD
Instructor, Stanford University
Project Title: High resolution molecular analysis of CD47-mediated immune escape in bladder cancer
The award will support Dr. Sahoo’s research project to investigate interactions between the immune system and bladder cancer. He will use molecular analysis to identify variants of CD47, a protein found on the surface of many cells and also overexpressed in many tumor cells, including bladder cancer tumor cells. CD47 can prevent the immune system from targeting cancer tumor cells. A better understanding of these CD47 variants could lead to developing new therapies for treating bladder cancer.