Dr. Sunil Hingorani is among investigators at six leading research centers who will share $1.6 million in the first round of 2009 funding from The Lustgarten Foundation, the country’s largest private foundation working solely on pancreas cancer research. The awards will fund studies on early diagnostic tests and improved treatment for one of the nation's deadliest cancers.
Hingorani’s experiments will establish whether physiologic levels of oncogenic Kras create a state of cellular dependence or “addiction” in a faithful in vivo model of human pancreas cancer and rigorously demonstrate whether activated Kras represents a valid therapeutic target.
“Particularly in this challenging funding climate, support from private foundations is crucial to fostering and sustaining innovative research," Hingorani said. "I am very grateful to the Lustgarten Foundation for supporting our efforts.”
"Many of these grant recipients will build on the landmark work of the Genome Project, which decoded pancreas cancer's complete genetic blueprint, while others are conducting research essential to our growing understanding of pancreas cancer," said Kerri Kaplan, executive director of The Lustgarten Foundation. “If successful, this research will move us another step closer toward the goal of making pancreas cancer detection as easy as a routine blood test, and provide the framework for developing lifesaving treatments.”
In addition to the Hutchinson Center, the first 2009 Lustgarten Foundation grants went to researchers at Johns Hopkins University; University of California, San Francisco; University of Michigan Medical School; Ohio State University and Massachusetts General Hospital.
Pancreas cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. More than 34,000 people die from it each year. Of those diagnosed with pancreas cancer, five percent survive five years and most with advanced cancer die within a year.
The Lustgarten Foundation will award nearly $4 million this year, double last year's amount, to scientists engaged in groundbreaking fundamental research. In all, it has provided $22 million for more than 110 research projects. To learn more, visit www.lustgarten.org.