Conquer Cancer Foundation Researchers Lead Six Key Studies Featured in Clinical Cancer Advances 2015

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Six of the studies featured in the recently released Clinical Cancer Advances 2015: ASCO’s Annual Report on Progress Against Cancer were led by researchers that whom Conquer Cancer Foundation (CCF) funded early in their careers through its signature Young Investigator Award (YIA) and Career Development Award (CDA) programs.

Now in its 10th year of publication, ASCO’s Clinical Cancer Advances is an independent review of the major advances in clinical cancer research and care, as well as emerging trends in the field. The report was published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology on January 20.1 Many past CCF grantees appear in the pages of Clinical Cancer Advances 2015, with these six appearing as lead authors in key studies:

  • Emmanuel Antonarakis, MD (2009 Young Investigator Award)

     A study led by Dr. Antonarakis indicates that an experimental blood test may help identify men with prostate cancer who are resistant to the widely used hormone drugs enzalutamide (Xtandi) and abiraterone acetate (Zytiga), which target the androgen receptor. Should future research confirm study findings, use of this test could lead to avoidance of unnecessary treatment in a large group of men who carry abnormal androgen receptors.

  • Marco Davila, MD, PhD (2010 Young Investigator Award)

    Dr. Davila led one of two small studies indicating that a new type of immunotherapy, known as chimeric antigen receptor–modified (CAR) T-cell therapy, may be the first effective treatment for relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in both adults and children. The researchers treated 16 adults with relapsed or chemotherapy-resistant B-cell ALL with a new CD19-directed CAR T-cell therapy. Complete cancer remissions occurred in 88% of the patients, some as early as 7 to 10 days after CAR T-cell infusion.

  • Charles Fuchs, MD, MPH (1991 Young Investigator Award)

    Dr. Fuchs led the first study to show that an angiogenesis inhibitor can be as effective as a stand-alone therapy in a gastrointestinal cancer. The study findings led to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of ramucirumab (Cyramza) for the treatment of advanced stomach cancer or gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma in April 2014. This marks the first FDA-approved treatment for patients with advanced stomach cancer that worsened during or after chemotherapy. Thus far there have been few treatment options for this aggressive and often symptomatic cancer.

  • Pasi Jänne, MD, PhD (2001 Young Investigator Award)

    Dr. Jänne led a phase I study to evaluate the effectiveness of experimental drug AZD9291 in patients with non–small cell lung cancer who harbor an EGFR mutation called T790M. This mutation is thought to be responsible for resistance to standard EGRF-targeted therapy. Remarkably, 50% of T790M-positive patients who received AZD9291 experienced tumor shrinkage.

  • Alexander Shoushtari, MD (2014 Young Investigator Award)

    Few effective treatments are available for patients with tyrosine kinase inhibitor–resistant gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) and other advanced soft-tissue sarcomas. Dr. Shoushtari and his team conducted a promising phase I study where dasatinib (Sprycel) was combined with immunotherapy ipilimumab (Yervoy) to treat patients with GIST and other advanced sarcomas. The drug combination showed promising clinical activity and could perhaps provide a new option for patients with GIST tumors.

  • Jane Weeks, MD, MSc, FASCO (1992 Career Development Award) in memoriam

    A multi-institutional, observational study led by Dr. Weeks and her team looked at interinstitutional variation in management decisions for patients with four common types of cancer. A substantial variation in institutional practice among cancer centers reveals a lack of consensus about optimal management for common clinical scenarios. For clinicians, awareness of these variations should prompt discussions about patient preferences. For health systems, high variation can be used to prioritize comparative effectiveness research, patient-provided education, or pathway development.

CCF funds young investigators early in their careers to retain talent in the field of clinical oncology, accelerate breakthroughs, and ultimately improve the lives of patients and families impacted by cancer.


1. Masters GA, Krilov L, Bailey HH, et al: Clinical Cancer Advances 2015: Annual Report on Progress Against Cancer From the American Society of Clinical Oncology. J Clin Oncol. January 20, 2015 (early release online).

© 2015. American Society of Clinical Oncology. All rights reserved.