Ostronoff, Shankaran win two-year SWOG research grants

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center investigators are among three recipients of $100,000 Coltman Fellowships from SWOG, formerly known as the Southwest Oncology Group

Drs. Fabiana Ostronoff and Veena Shankaran are among three recipients of $100,000 Coltman Fellowships from SWOG, formerly known as the Southwest Oncology Group. The grants, awarded over two years, provide salary support for young SWOG investigators in their independent research.

From left, Dr. Fabina Ostronoff, Clinical Research Division, and Dr. Veena Shankaran, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and Public Health Sciences Division Photos by Bo Jungmayer

Targeting AML

Ostronoff’s fellowship will support her proposed study "Transcriptome Sequencing (RNA-Seq) for Identification of Novel Markers of Disease Outcome and Therapeutic Targets in Patients with Acute Myeloid Leukemia."

"The goal of my project is to identify, verify, and validate novel RNA transcript variants in acute myeloid leukemia in hopes of deepening our understanding of the genesis of the disease and of developing new molecular classifiers and potential targets for treatment," said Ostronoff, a senior fellow in the Clinical Research Division.

Treatment-related financial hardships

Shankaran is an attending physician in the Medical Director’s Office at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. She is also an investigator with the REACH group in the Public Health Sciences Division. The Coltman Fellowship will support her study "Implementation of a Prospective Financial Impact Assessment Tool in Patients with Colorectal Cancer."

Shankaran said that although treatment-related financial hardships can profoundly affect a patient's adherence to treatment and quality of life, this is an area that needs much more research.

"The goal of my project is to implement a tool that will prospectively assess financial difficulties among patients with colorectal cancer, with the ultimate goal of developing effective interventions to prevent or alleviate these difficulties once they have been identified," she said.

Initiated in 2008, the Coltman Fellowships honor of long-time SWOG chair Dr. Charles Coltman. Each SWOG member institution may nominate up to two faculty members who are receiving mentorship by investigators in leadership positions within the group. Fellows must provide an annual report on the progress of their research. The next application deadline will be in early 2013.

About SWOG

SWOG is one of the five cooperative groups that together comprise the National Cancer Institute's National Clinical Trials Network.

SWOG designs and conducts multidisciplinary clinical trials to improve the practice of medicine in preventing, detecting and treating cancer, and to enhance the quality of life for cancer survivors. The group’s network consists of more than 4,000 researchers who practice at more than 500 institutions, including 22 of the NCI-designated cancer centers and cancer centers in almost a dozen other countries.

The Hutchinson Center houses SWOG’s statistical center. SWOG is headquartered at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and has an operations office in San Antonio.

Funding for the Colton Fellowship grants comes from The Hope Foundation, SWOG's philanthropic arm. The third fellowship went to Dr. Sumanta Pal of the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center at Duarte, Calif.

[Adapted from a SWOG newsletter]

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