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Roswell Park scientists receive nearly $7 million in research awards

Scientists at Roswell Park Cancer Institute have received nearly $7 million in research grants from the federal government and other sources, the cancer hospital announced this week.

The largest award, received in December, is a five-year, $2.4 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to improve a specific method for administering a cancer treatment, known as photodynamic therapy, or PDT, that was developed at Roswell Park in the 1970s.

This project will for the first time try to determine the ideal laser settings for using interstitial photodynamic therapy to treat patients with head and neck cancers that have begun to spread to other tissues, the hospital said in a statement.

Gal Shafirstein, director of photodynamic therapy clinical research, will lead the effort.

Other research awards granted in late 2015 include:

• A five-year, $2 million award from the National Cancer Institute for research into the instruments that control how androgens move through blood vessel walls into prostate cancer cells, where they spur the growth of cancer. This project is led by Gary Smith, a distinguished professor of oncology, and Yue Wu, an assistant professor of oncology.

• A five-year, $832,594 award from the cancer institute to Dr. Fumito Ito, an assistant professor of oncology, for his research into adoptive T-cell therapy, which relies on a patient’s own tumor-specific immune cells to battle cancer.

• A two-year, $450,000 award from the state Health Department to award internally to research projects that represent innovative approaches to tackling important prostate cancer problems. Three researchers are splitting the award.

• A two-year, $410,314 award from the cancer institute for Mikhail Nikiforov, professor of oncology, to study the regulation of tumor-suppressor genes in the process of melanoma progression.

• A three-year, $371,583 subcontract award from the University at Buffalo, part of a larger cancer institute award, for Dr. Santosh Patnaik, assistant professor of oncology, to fund a project titled, “Noninvasive detection of circulating RNA for lung cancer early detection and prognosis.”

• Wen Wee Ma, associate professor of oncology, has a leadership role in a five-year cancer institute grant involving a consortium of research institutions in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and this country. Roswell Park was awarded a subcontract grant of $235,610 from UB, the lead American institution for the project. The four collaborating sites are researching a combination chemotherapy approach for pancreatic cancer.

• A two-year, $171,500 award from the cancer institute to Dr. Peter Demant for research to study genetic markers that may predict whether a tumor will respond to certain chemotherapy medication.

• A five-year, $131,264 award from the National Marrow Donor Program to Paul Wallace, director of the Department of Flow & Image Cytometry, for a project titled, “Minimal residual disease testing via multiparametric flow cytometry.”