Funded Research

  • MDS – Novel Gene Discovery and Classification
    $25,000 Tower Career Development Grant

    The abnormal genes that cause “preleukemia” (myelodysplastic syndrome, MDS) are poorly identified. Recently, an extremely robust technology has become available: 500K SNP chips. This glass platform permits us to examine 500,000 sites in the human genome to determine if abnormalities exist in almost every gene in the MDS cells. These chips, therefore, allow us to identify genes that are amplified or deleted or have probable small mutations. Examining a large number of MDS samples and associating the results with clinical data will permit us to develop new diagnostic subcategorization of this heterogeneous group of diseases, provide prognostic indicators for the patients and their physicians, and identify targets of small molecule therapy. Because of its ease and robustness, the 500K SNP chip may become the standard for diagnosis, prognosis, and monitoring progression of MDS, as well as other malignancies.

    Norihiko Kawamata, MD
    Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
  • Myelodysplastic Inhibition of Protein Farnesylation: A Promising and Potentially Unifying Treatment Modality in Sarcomas
    $25,000 Tower Career Development Grant

    Sarcoma is a rare form of cancer that affects individuals of all ages. Its diagnosis often carries a poor prognosis, as the benefit of traditional chemotherapy has been maximized. It is critical that we discover and apply new, more efficacious therapies. Recently, in our laboratory, we have discovered that Sarcoma cells are sensitive to a novel compound that blocks the cancer’s ability to grow and propagate. Currently, we are pursuing this compound as a treatment for patients with Sarcoma. In addition, we are using it as a scientific tool to help us unravel the molecular intricacies of this deadly disease.

    William D. Tap, MD
    University of California, Los Angeles
  • Targeted Therapies in Pancreatic Cancer: A New Era of Treatment
    $25,000 Tower Career Development Grant

    Cancer of the pancreas is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death. Approximately 32,180 new cases are anticipated in 2005, with 31,800 expected deaths and a median overall survival of only 6 months for cancer that has spread. Our traditional chemotherapy has not been able to significantly prolong life. Cancer cells have pathways that are constitutively turned on and allow for cell growth. I plan on targeting some of these pathways and also study the mechanisms involved with uncontrolled cell growth as well as resistance. This will allow us to improve the survival and quality of life of our patients.

    Vincent Chung, MD
    City of Hope

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