Mark A. Rubin, MD
Himisha Beltran, MD
Lewis Cantley, PhD
Weill Cornell Medicine has been awarded a 5-year, $11.3 million Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to improve the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of prostate cancer.
Established in 1992, SPORE grants serve as the cornerstone of the NCI’s efforts to promote collaborative, interdisciplinary translational cancer research. This SPORE grant is the first ever awarded to Weill Cornell Medicine.
“We are extremely proud to join an elite group of institutions working toward decreasing the suffering caused by prostate cancer,” said principal investigator Mark A. Rubin, MD, Founding Director of the Englander Institute for Precision Medicine and Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and of Pathology in Urology at Weill Cornell Medicine as well as Director of the Department for Biomedical Research and leader for precision medicine at the University of Bern, Switzerland.
The grant, which Himisha Beltran, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, will co-lead, will support four innovative research projects focused on highly translational areas relevant to the detection and treatment of aggressive prostate cancer, each led by a basic scientist and translational clinical investigator. Projects will be aimed at improving the detection and treatment of the rare, treatment-resistant neuroendocrine prostate cancer; exploring a molecular subtype of prostate cancer characterized by mutations in the SPOP gene, which occur in 10% to 15% of prostate cancers; and improving the understanding of molecular variations in prostate cancer tumors. The SPORE will have significant infrastructural support for big data management, featuring a first-rate team of computational biologists and biostatisticians and will provide dedicated resources for tissue collection, organoid creation, and molecular studies on patient samples.
In addition, the grant includes earmarked yearly funding to jumpstart new high-risk and high-reward studies led by Weill Cornell Medicine researchers. This work and resulting findings will enable Weill Cornell Medicine researchers to develop an approach to treating prostate cancer that aligns their expertise in translational and genomic research with the care of men with treating the disease, Dr. Rubin said.
Lewis Cantley, PhD, Director of Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center and Professor of Cancer Biology in Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, who has many years of experience working with or co-leading SPOREs, will work closely with the Weill Cornell Medicine SPORE team to ensure optimal success for the program. ■