Rhode Island Hospital COBRE Center Supports Cancer Research with Pilot Funding for Promising Local Junior Investigators

September 8, 2016

The COBRE Center for Cancer Research Development (CCRD) at Rhode Island Hospital has recently awarded more than $250,000 to local junior investigators dedicated to cancer research. The Center, led by Bharat Ramratnam, MD, is supported by a 2015 National Institutes of Health (NIH) $5.8 million grant and promotes multidisciplinary laboratory studies on the cellular and molecular pathways leading to cancer.

An integral component of the COBRE CCRD is the Pilot Project Program that supports outstanding junior investigators. The program, directed by Jennifer Sanders, PhD and Philip Gruppuso, MD, takes full advantage of the collaborative relationship between Rhode Island Hospital, Brown University and the University of Rhode Island. In the program’s first year, grant awards were made to four pilot programs:

  • Alexander Brodsky PhD, Department of Pathology, Rhode Island Hospital: “The Mevalonate Pathway Regulates Drug Resistance in Colorectal Cancer.” This grant will evaluate the therapeutic potential of a novel synergistic drug combination to specifically target drug resistant and cancer cells.
  • Patrycja M. Dubielecka-Szczerba PhD, Department of Medicine, Rhode Island Hospital: “Interrogating the druggable targets in the Abelson interactor 1 signaling network.” This grant will elucidate the role of interactions between leukemia stem/progenitor cells and their microenvironment in relapse with the ultimate goal of treating patients with recurrent disease.
  • Chiung-Kuei Huang PhD, Department of Medicine, Rhode Island Hospital: “The role of aspartate beta-hydroxylase in cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) progression.” Currently the only treatment for CCA at early stage is surgery and this grant will validate a potential new molecular target (ASPH) for therapy.
  • Ian Wong PhD, Department of Engineering, Brown University: “Profiling Heterogeneous lnvasion and Resistance using 3D Tumor Organoids.” This grant will devise new technologies to detect rare tumor cells, which represent a promising therapeutic target. 

The Pilot Project Program will continue to support cancer-related research and will soon announce a new funding round for qualified investigators.

Christina Spaight O'Reilly

Senior Public Relations Officer
Rhode Island Hospital