Today, the Biden Cancer Moonshot announced the inaugural cohort of Cancer Moonshot Scholars, a program launched by President Biden last year to support early-career researchers and help build a cancer research workforce that better represents the diversity of America. The diverse set of scholars announced today will drive progress in the fight to end cancer as we know it—a key component of the President’s Unity Agenda—by pursuing projects at institutions across the country, including California, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington.
The Biden-Harris Administration, through the National Cancer Institute (NCI), is committing $5.4 million in the first year of these multi-year awards to support the inaugural cohort of 11 Cancer Moonshot Scholars. These emerging leaders in cancer research and innovation will use this funding to help change what is possible, with projects to increase prevention and early detection efforts for patients from underrepresented populations, create new cancer treatments for all Americans, and further the nation’s expertise in addressing hard-to-treat cancers.
“The Cancer Moonshot Scholars program is an important investment in cancer research and advances that can deliver hope for cancer patients across the nation,” said Deputy Assistant to the President for the Cancer Moonshot Dr. Danielle Carnival. “Mobilizing toward the two goals set by the President and the First Lady—preventing cancer deaths and improving the patient experience—requires supporting a new generation of talented researchers bringing diverse perspectives from all across America.”
“We are at our best when we capitalize on the diversity of the nation’s skills, talents, and viewpoints to solve the complex problems in cancer research, and the Cancer Moonshot Scholars program is a critical step in that direction of equity,” said NCI Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities Director Dr. Sanya A. Springfield.
The Cancer Moonshot Scholars program is designed to support early-career scientists, researchers, and innovators from diverse backgrounds, including from backgrounds that are underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral, and social sciences research workforce. The Administration intends to fund up to 30 additional Cancer Moonshot Scholars by 2025, with the next application period closing in February 2024.
The initial cohort of Cancer Moonshot Scholars is working to make progress in prostate, pancreatic, liver, lung, cervical, brain, and rectal cancers.
11 Cancer Moonshot Scholars
- Simpa Salami, MD, MPH, University of Michigan is working to define the biological fate of low risk (Grade Group 1) prostate cancer.
- Marvin Langston, PhD, MPH, Stanford University is examining diverse risk-based approaches to prostate cancer screening.
- Jyothi Menon, PhD, University of Rhode Island is developing a multifunctional nanoparticle formulation to slow the progression of chronic alcoholic liver disease to hepatocellular carcinoma.
- Leeya Pinder, MD, MPH, FACOG, University of Cincinnati is conducting a randomized clinical trial to evaluate the safety and acceptability of a novel, self-administered, topically delivered antiviral therapy for improving cervical cancer prevention options in low-resource settings.
- Nduka Amankulor, MD, University of Pennsylvania is investigating the molecular and cellular mechanisms of All-Trans Retinoic Acid antitumor immunity in Isocitrate Dehydrogenase mutant glioma and identifying predictive immune signatures.
- Hien Dang, PhD, Thomas Jefferson University is working to better understand deregulated Myc signaling in hepatocellular carcinoma to develop new therapies.
- Laurie McLouth, PhD, University of Kentucky is testing the efficacy of a novel psychosocial intervention called Pathways to help improve mental health and quality of life during advanced lung cancer treatment.
- Matthew A. Triplette, MD, PhD, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center is evaluating the barriers and facilitators of lung cancer screening adherence in decentralized programs, in order to adapt and measure the impact of interventions on adherence.
- Mario Shields, PhD, Northwestern University at Chicago is seeking to define a role for the mTOR pathway in the development and progression of pancreatic cancer in the context of Gα13 loss.
- Jelani C. Zarif, PhD, Johns Hopkins University is testing the hypothesis that immunosuppressive CD206+ tumor associated macrophages (TAMs) drive prostate cancer resistance and the novel anti-CD206 peptide will reprogram TAMs toward a pro-inflammatory phenotype.
- Todd Aguilera, MD, PhD, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center is working to understand if the integrated molecular, cellular, and spatial assessment of treatment response dynamics can reveal insights into immunobiological response and inform mechanisms of efficacy and therapeutic selection.