International initiatives at Roswell Park

June 24, 2014 Updated Jun 24, 2014 at 8:32 AM EDT

By Tracey Drury, Buffalo Business First

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International initiatives at Roswell Park

June 24, 2014 Updated Jun 24, 2014 at 8:32 AM EDT

Roswell Park Cancer Institute researchers have received new grant funding to help expand cancer research in Ghana and Nigeria.

The $200,000 grant is among nine new federal contracts and private grants totaling $2.5 million.

The grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) will enable a partnership with Noguchi Memorial Institute in Ghana and Lagos State University in Nigeria. The specialized NCI grant was one of just 15 awarded to stimulate cancer research and expand the reach of cancer centers in low- and mid-income countries.

The project will be led by Dr. Alex Adjei, senior vice president of clinical research and the Katherine Anne Gioia Chair of Medicine along with Dr. Chukwumere Nwogu, attending surgeon in the department of thoracic surgery. Plans call for building a team of clinicians and researchers in the West African countries to collaborate with basic and population-science investigations in cervical, prostate and breast cancer.

According to Roswell Park, West Africans and African-Americans in the United States show similar epidemiological trends with regard to breast and prostate cancers, creating clinical research opportunities to enhance drug development and novel therapeutics. The collaboration aims to improve cancer care in Ghana and Nigeria and serve as a paradigm for other developing countries.

Other grantees include:

Dr. Sarah Holstein, assistant professor of oncology, received a four-year, $985,707 award to develop new drugs to use against multiple myeloma.

Dr. Carl Morrison, executive director of the Center for Personalized Medicine and director for the division of molecular pathology, received a five-year subcontract award of $561,580 from the University of Pittsburgh for an NCI project to establish the TIES Cancer Research Network at RPCI, a multi-institutional IT solution to connect electronic records and tissue banks at four institutions.

Joseph Spernyak, an imaging research scientist, received a two-year award of $182,018 from the NCI to develop next-generation magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agents to track temperature-sensitive drug carriers engineered to release anticancer drugs locally to tumors.

Dr. Shahriar Koochekpour, associate professor of cancer genetics in the departments of urology and oncology, received a two-year, $406,247 award from the NCI to investigate how prostate cancer aggressiveness and metastasis in black men may correlate to glutamate (an amino acid) receptor levels.

Dr. Peter Demant, distinguished member of the department of molecular and cellular biology, received a two-year, $177,740 award from the NCI to study the toxic effects in some patients of a group of drugs used against childhood cancers and cancers of the breast and ovary.

Gokul Das, an associate professor in the department of pharmacology and therapeutics and co-director of the RPCI Breast Disease Site Research Group, received a $50,000, one-year grant from the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester for a project that focuses on triple-negative breast cancer.

Jason Eng, a graduate student working toward a doctorate in the department of immunology, received a one-year, $2,500 seed grant research award from the American Medical Association Foundation to explore how physical and emotional stresses might increase the recurrence and spread of pancreatic cancer.