Funded Research

  • Novel Drug Targets for High Grade Serous Ovarian Cancer identified through Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Modeling of Disease
    $500,000 Tower Senior Investigator Grant

    Faults in high risk genes cause high grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC). This cancer is often lethal in patients. Novel drugs are needed to improve treatment and patient outcomes. We plan to use cells from individuals carrying high risk genes to develop precision models of their disease and then cutting edge methods in genomics and functional screens to identify novel therapeutic targets that can be tested for their potential to treat patients with HGSOC. Ultimately we expected these studies will improve survival rates in patients that get HGSOC because they carry faulty genes.

    Simon Gayther, PhD
    Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
  • Cold Atmospheric Plasma for the Treatment of NF1-related Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumors
    $100,000 Angie and Michael David Career Development Grant

    Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) are aggressive soft-tissue sarcomas for which the only effective therapy is surgery and NF1 patients have a greater risk of developing these tumors from plexiform neurofibromas. These tumors are collectively known as Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumors (PNSTs). One area of active research in plasma medicine is the use of cold atmospheric plasma (CAP) in treating tumors. In this proposal, we want to investigate the role of CAP in treating NF1-related PNSTs.

    Brian Na, MD
    University of California, Los Angeles
  • Epigenetic control of stem cell plasticity in colorectal cancer development and recurrence
    $100,000 Tower Career Development Grant

    Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second-most lethal cancer in the United States causing 50,000 deaths annually. Cancer is caused by alterations in genetic material called mutations, however correcting such changes remains unfeasible. Additionally, non-genetic structural and chemical changes are essential for cancer to gain aggressive growth potential and evading therapy. Although such non-genetic changes are essentially reversible using therapeutic drugs, details of how and when they occur during CRC progression remains unknown. Using cutting-edge human CRC and mouse model systems, we will characterize the non-genetic changes during CRC growth and identify novel factors that can be targeted for innovative therapies.

    Unmesh Jadhav, PhD
    University of Southern California
  • Single Cell Spatial Analysis of DLBCL to Develop Biomarkers and Optimize CAR T Therapy
    $100,000 Tower Career Development Grant

    Recently we have discovered ways to reinvigorate the immune system to fight cancer. However, in immune cancers such as lymphoma, the line between cancer and the immune system is blurred. This presents an opportunity to learn how immune cells attack cancer under complex conditions, which is called the tumor microenvironment. I propose to use a spatial protein analysis technology to identify clues, not just in cancer cells but also in the embedded immune cells, that predict cancer outcomes. Further, I will study how genetically engineered anti-tumor immune cells operate in the tumor microenvironment to improve their efficacy.

    Alexander Xu, PhD
    Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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