City of Hope shares recent research grants and awards given to faculty at the institution.
ASHG Awards City of Hope Genetics Leaders With Arno Motulsky-Barton Childs Award for Excellence in Human Genetics Education
The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) has named City of Hope's Jeffrey N. Weitzel, MD, and Kathleen Blazer, EDD, MS, LCGC, as the 2019 recipients the Arno Motulsky-Barton Childs Award for Excellence in Human Genetics Education. Dr. Weitzel is Chief of the Division of Clinical Cancer Genomics and the Cancer Screening and Prevention Program at City of Hope. Dr. Blazer directs City of Hope's Cancer Genomics Education Program (CGEP).
This award recognizes individuals for contributions of exceptional quality and importance to human genetics education internationally. Awardees have had long-standing involvement in genetics education, producing diverse contributions of substantive influence on individuals and/or organizations. Drs. Weitzel and Blazer will receive the award includes a plaque and monetary prize, on Tuesday, October 15, during 69th Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas.
For over twenty years, Drs. Weitzel and Blazer have worked together to provide innovative and impactful cancer genomics education to clinicians and researchers from diverse training backgrounds and practice settings across the United States and internationally. Their National Cancer Institute-funded CGEP initiatives have ranged from educating primary care physicians for referral-level competence, to preparing master's and doctoral clinicians for leadership in translational cancer genomics research. They have also provided lay-oriented conferences and workshops for high-risk patients and their families, including programs entirely in Spanish.
Stacy Gray, MD, Receives NIH Grant for Cancer Genomics Research
Stacy Gray, MD, associate clinical professor in City of Hope's Division of Clinical Cancer Genomics, is one of six physicians to receive an inaugural "Genomic Innovator Award" from the National Human Genome Institute (NHGI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The award was created in 2018 to support the early careers of researchers studying genome biology, genomic medicine, technology development and societal implications of genomic advances.
The amount of support to accelerate Gray's genomics research is $500,000+ per year over a five-year project period, $2.65 million in total.
Gray's research focuses on understanding the factor that drive the use of novel and established cancer genomic tests and therapies. She has previously shown that people are often unaware that their genome has been sequenced or understand the implications of their results. In addition, many physicians also do not understand the DNA-sequence information gathered. Through the Genomic Innovator funding, Gray will develop an interactive web-based, point-of-care tool for physicians and patients that will help providers and patients better understand their genomic information. The application will also facilitate sharing of genomic information within families, ultimately leading to higher quality patient care.
City of Hope Researcher Receives $1.35M Department of Defense Grant for Breast Metastasis Study
Rahul Jandial, MD, PhD, associate professor in City of Hope's Division of Neurosurgery, Department of Surgery, has received the "Breakthrough" award and a $1.35 million grant from the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program to support his laboratory research into leptomeningeal disease (LMD).
Also known as carcinomatous meningitis, the disease is characterized by the spreading of tumor cells to the lining of the brain and spinal cord. Despite its discovery nearly 150 years ago, it remains the most ominous diagnosis a patient can receive — yet with the fewest treatment options.
The brain and spinal cord float in clear liquid called cerebrospinal fluid, which supplies nutrients and serves to create a buoyant environment for the delicate organ. Notably, not all Stage 4 diagnoses have the same prognosis. "The spread of cancer to this unique fluid space is associated with the worst prognosis, often only months, and excludes patients from other medicines and clinical trials," Jandial said.
Jandial explained that his research team's early findings show that one of the three main cell types in the brain (oligodendrocyte precursor cells, or OPCs) may create an environment that is less hospitable to cancer cell invasion, essentially thwarting their sinister mission. Based on these clinical observations, Jandial will be investigating the cancer biology driving the development of LMD, as well as the OPC-derived signals that prevent it. He and his team are seeking new approaches to transform care and deliver a next generation of treatment that could lead to healing.