Funded Research

  • Nanosystems to accelerate clinical translation and generation of cellular immunotherapies
    $100,000 Randi and Warren Grant Research Grant

    For these patients, new treatments are being developed that recruit cells of the immune system to attack the cancer. To turn on these defenses, we need to deliver genetic instructions to about two hundred million immune cells, efficiently and safely. Unlike other strategies, these cells no longer need to come from the patients, who are already weakened. We have invented an engineering solution to do so and we are testing and optimizing it so that we can make this treatment widely available to patients and their doctors soon.

    Steven Jonas, MD, PhD
    University of California, Los Angeles
  • Predicting the metastatic risk of bladder cancer by cell-free DNA methylation sequencing
    $50,000 Jessica M. Berman Memorial Fund Career Development Grant

    Bladder cancer continues to cause significant mortality in the US due to the lack of reliable methods to identify high-risk patients who benefit from chemotherapy. We propose a study to characterize cell-free circulating DNA in the plasma for the purpose of creating a new noninvasive biomarker to identify patients with high-risk of recurrence. First, we will perform whole genome bisulfite sequencing to compare the methylation signatures between the patients who developed recurrence and those who did not. The identified differential methylation loci will be refined and then validated in a separate group of patients.

    Yi-Tsung Lu, MD
    University of Southern California
  • Targeting AML Stem Cells using Novel Small Molecule Inhibitors of RNA Regulatory Proteins
    $50,000 Cancer Free Generation Research Grant

    Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a devastating blood cancer were blood producing stem cells are damaged and become abnormally functioning leukemic stem cells (LSCs). To date, there is still no curative treatment targeting these aggressive LSCs. We identified novel compounds that inhibit important growth mechanisms of LSCs. In AML animal models and patient samples, these compounds decrease AML and improve survival. We will use rigorous experimental approaches to better understand the mechanism how these novel compounds kill LSCs. This project has a high potential to develop a new class of drugs for precision AML therapy.

    Martina Roos, PhD, PharmD
    University of California, Los Angeles

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