MDACC Research Grants
Left to right: Colleen Leary, Dr. Elizabeth Grimm, Jean Schlipmann, Dr. Patrick Hwu, Judy Sager, MJ Suehs, Randy Vidrine
AIM Awards $135,000 Research Grant to
MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC)
AIM and MDACC partnered together in 2012 on our Houston AIM for a CURE Melanoma Walk & Fun Run.
On October 23rd, Judy Sager-AIM Houston Chapter President and Jean Schlipmann-AIM CoFounder presented Dr. Patrick Hwu and the Melanoma Department at MDACC a check for $135,000 to support melanoma research.
Melanoma Medical Oncology Department Chair Patrick Hwu, MD, said the funds will be used to support young investigators doing research in melanoma. "These very important funds help our scientists identify key biomarkers which aid in the development of new treatments for our patients," said Dr. Hwu. "We are so fortunate to have access to this funding, as it is key to our mission of finding better treatments for patients with melanoma."
Additionally, funds will be used for Melanoma Informatics, Tissue Resource and Pathology Core, known as MelCore. MelCore continues to maintain an invaluable prospective database encompassing clinical, pathological, treatment, and follow-up data for MD Anderson melanoma patients. MelCore also prospectively collects and stores samples of blood and tissue from patients who have given consent for the collection of these samples. This dual-purpose resource comprises a vital research asset. It provides MD Anderson's scientific investigators crucial information with which to develop new criteria to assess the risk of relapse and spread of melanoma in patients with early-stage disease, and facilitates the development and evaluation of potential new biomarkers that may be used in the care of future patients.
Left to right: Kristin Allen, Dr. Elizabeth Grimm, Dr. Patrick Hwu, Jean Schlipmann, Judy Sager, Randy Vidrine, Denise Clanton, MJ Suehs
AIM Awards $90,000 Research Grant to
MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC)
AIM and MDACC partnered together in 2011 on our Houston AIM for a CURE Melanoma Walk & Fun Run.
On November 22, Judy Sager-AIM Houston Chapter President and Jean Schlipmann-AIM CoFounder presented Dr. Patrick Hwu and the Melanoma Department at MDACC a check for $90,000 to support melanoma research.
MDACC will use this grant to support the ongoing research goals of MelCore.
MDACC is one of the largest melanoma care and research centers in the world. Investigators at MDACC have been critical contributors to the clinical evaluation of many of the new treatments that are showing promising activity. Research performed by investigators at MDACC has provided insights that have been used to identify new treatment strategies as well as to guide the appropriate management of patients from the time they are diagnosed.
One of the key resources that has led to these advances is the MDACC Melanoma Informatics, Tissue Resource, and Pathology Core, known as MelCore. Melcore was established in 2001 by Dr. Jeffrey Gershenwald, Professor in the Department of Surgical Oncology, and Dr. Victor Prieto, Professor in the Department of Pathology. More recently, to complement this founding leadership team, Dr. Michael Davies, Assistant Professor in Melanoma Medical Oncology, has also been appointed as a co-director.
Since its inception, MelCore has maintained a prospective database that includes clinical, pathological, treatment, and follow-up data for melanoma patients seen at MDACC. In addition to establishing this tremendous resource of clinical data, MelCore has also prospectively collected and stored samples of blood and tissue from patients who have given consent for the collection of these materials.
As a result of these efforts, MelCore is recognized as one of the largest repositories in the world that integrates melanoma patient clinical data and specimens. This tremendous resource has provided critical information to develop new criteria to assess the risk of relapse and spread of melanoma in patients with early-stage disease, and has also facilitated the initial development and critical evaluation of potential new biomarkers that may be used in the care of future patients.
The rising incidence of melanoma, and the increasing complexity of this disease based on new insights into the molecular heterogeneity of these tumors, make resources like MelCore absolutely critical to the rapid and rational development of new tools and treatments for this potentially aggressive disease. However, the rising patients numbers and complexity also make the maintenance of such a resource a significant challenge.
Left to Right: Dr. Elizabeth Grimm, Dr. Jeffrey E. Lee, Judy Sager, Jean Schlipmann,
Dr. Patrick Hwu, Dr. Michael Davies
AIM Awards $81,500 Research Grant to
MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC)
AIM and MDACC partnered together in 2010 on our Houston AIM for a CURE Melanoma Walk & Fun Run.
On August 2, Judy Sager-AIM Houston Chapter President and Jean Schlipmann-AIM CoFounder presented Dr. Patrick Hwu and the Melanoma Department at MDACC a check for $81,500 to support melanoma research.
MDACC will use the grant to focus their efforts on tumor collection and database support; molecular analysis to identify therapeutic targets; turning laboratory findings into clinical trials; and providing support for select young investigators to insure the continued development and supply of translational research into the future.
MDACC's combined force of outstanding clinicians and researchers will make every effort to maximize productivity with the ultimate goal of personalized treatments for melanoma patients who have advanced disease. Our grant will make a powerful impact in their efforts to improve on the development of new therapies for melanoma patients.
MDACC's faculty members have engaged in many discussions concerning the most promising new roads to travel to get to our main objective. They have identified treatment methods that use cell pathways to turn the immune system on, as well as methods to take off nature's brakes for the immune system. They have also found that they can target the biology of cells by gaining understanding of the key molecular pathways leading to a patient's cancer growth.
In the coming years, their progress will depend on their ability to analyze baseline patient biopsies in the lab in order to determine what is driving a patient's particular cancer, so they can personalize treatments for the patient.
The pathways (light switches) they have identified which affect melanoma growth will provide the keys needed to halt the advancement of these diseases, by using medicines which shut these pathways down. There has been successful shutdown of some pathways for some patients, but this shutdown has not always been durable. Gaining a resilient method to eliminate escape routes for cancer cells requires much dedication, combined research efforts, and significant resources.
Specifically, MDACC will utilize this grant to support clinical trial efforts which includes performing novel studies of targeted agents. Importantly, the money will help MDACC process tissues from patients that link to a database that will allow them to correlate molecular analyses with the clinical outcomes. In addition, they will utilize a portion of the funds to support research of a promising young investigator to insure we continue to develop young investigators in the field of melanoma research.