December 18, 2020
Member/Center Highlights
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Newly diagnosed cancer patients, African Americans more at risk for COVID-19 infection
Cancer patients, especially newly diagnosed and African American patients, are significantly at risk for COVID-19 infection, hospitalization and mortality, according to a new study published in JAMA Oncology by researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center (Case CCC).

Study authors analyzed electronic medical records of 73.4 million patients in the United States to identify high-risk groups of cancer patients based on cancer type and demographic. Even after adjusting for COVID-19 risk factors, cancer patients still showed much higher risk for COVID-19 infection than non-cancer patients. Of 13 common cancers examined, the highest risk of infection was linked to lung cancer, leukemia and lymphoma. Patients diagnosed with cancer in the last year were at higher risk for COVID-19 infection than those with longstanding cancer diagnoses.
“We saw the highest level of risk linked to cancers of the blood, which change the way immune blood cells work,” said Nathan Berger, MD study co-author and professor at the School of Medicine. “Cancer patients are more likely to get infections due to changes in their immune systems. They also come into contact with many front-line health care workers, which could add to the burden on their already overtaxed immune systems.” Dr. Berger is Director of the Center for Science, Health & Society at the School of Medicine and member of the Case CCC's GI Cancer Genetics Program. He is joined by Rong Xu, PhD and QuanQiu Wang, MS in the study.
Case-Coulter Translational Research Partnership awards $1.1M in support of promising biomedical engineering university technologies
The Case-Coulter Translational Research Partnership has announced more than $1.1 million in funding and other support for six biomedical technologies out of Case Western Reserve University. The six projects were selected for full program funding, ranging from $50,000 to $200,000 each. Five of the six awarded projects feature members of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. Congratulations to the following members (linked) on their selected projects:

10-liter Scale Production of BG34-200 Immunotherapeutic Under cGMP Guidelines
Mei Zhang, PhD, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, and
Alex Huang, MD, PhD, professor of pediatrics and pathology

Drug-Free Targeted Prostate Cancer Treatment with TNT – Targeted Nanobubble Therapy
Agata Exner, PhD, professor of radiology and biomedical engineering,
Jim Basilion, PhD, professor of radiology and biomedical engineering, and
Lee Ponsky, MD, professor of urology

TraumaChek: A Field-deployable Dielectric Coagulometer for Comprehensive Assessment of Trauma-induced Coagulopathy
Anirban Sen Gupta, PhD, professor of biomedical engineering,
Pedram Mohseni, PhD, professor of electrical engineering and biomedical engineering, and
Sanjay Ahuja, MD, professor of pediatrics

BAFF CAR-NK Cells for Therapy of B Cell Malignancies
Reshmi Parameswaran, MS, PhD, assistant professor of medicine, and
Pallavi Tiwari, PhD, assistant professor of biomedical engineering

PhotoSorb: Safe and Long-lasting Sunscreen
Vijay Krishna, PhD, assistant staff in Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, and
Edward Maytin, MD, PhD, staff in Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Dermatology
Combining Genomics and Mathematics Helps Personalize Radiation Therapy for Lung Cancer
From Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute: Clinical trials in lung cancer over the decades have determined an optimal “one size fits all” dosing scheme for patients treated with radiation therapy, but new research now shows this is not as biologically accurate as once believed. A new technology using tumor genomics to personalize radiation dosing demonstrates that the standard of care approach may be suboptimal for up to 75% of lung cancer patients.

A paper published in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, co-authored by Javier F. Torres-Roca, MD, a senior member in the Radiation Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center, and Jacob Scott, MD, DPhil, a radiation oncologist and physician-researcher in the Department of Translational Hematology and Oncology Research at Cleveland Clinic, demonstrates an approach to combine individual tumor genomics and mathematics to personalize the dose of radiation therapy for lung cancer patients. By applying this personalized technology, their study shows an opportunity to increase the efficacy and decrease the toxicity of radiation therapy. Dr. Scott is a member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center's Developmental Therapeutics Program.
Pennell elected to ASCO Nominating Committee
The Case Comprehensive Cancer Center (Case CCC) extends congratulations to Nathan A. Pennell, MD, PhD, FASCO, as he was recently elected to serve a 3-year term in an Undesignated Specialty seat on the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Nominating Committee. Dr. Pennell is director of the Lung Cancer Medical Oncology Program at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, professor of medicine at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University and member of the Case CCC's Developmental Therapeutics Program. He also serves ASCO as chair of the COVID-19 Road to Recovery Task Force on Cancer Research, member of the Cancer Communications Committee, associate editor of the ASCO Educational Book, and is a consultant editor for podcasts for JCO Oncology Practice, among other volunteer roles.
Open roles at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center
Join our team! The Case Comprehensive Cancer Center (Case CCC) is currently seeking qualified candidates for the following staff roles:

The Gastrointestinal (GI) Cancer Genetics Program at The Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, with affiliates University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center and Cleveland Clinic, also invites applications for tenure track/tenured faculty positions at the level of Assistant, Associate or Full Professor.
Training and Education Opportunities
Masters of Science in Regenerative Medicine and Entrepreneurship (RGME)
The RGME is the first two-year master's level program in Ohio focused on Regenerative Medicine and Entrepreneurship. Students enrolled in the RGME program will have access to cutting-edge clinical and research facilities along with small biotechnology companies within the network of the National Center for Regenerative Medicine (NCRM).
Cancer-focused Summer Undergraduate Research Program
The Cancer-focused Summer Undergraduate Research Program (CanSUR) helps highly motivated undergraduates prepare for the next stage of their careers through work with Case CCC researchers over the course of a 10-week program. CanSUR is accepting applications through January 15, 2021.
Summer 2021 Training for Medical Students
The Summer Training for Medical Students Program provides an opportunity for medical students to participate in extensive, direct laboratory research projects in oncology. Applications for the 2021 Summer Training for Medical Students Program are due by midnight EST, Sunday, March 7, 2021.
Case CCC COVID-19 Resource Hub
The Case Comprehensive Cancer Center (Case CCC) has centralized COVID-19 related news, resources and funding opportunities for our cancer center community. Content is updated regularly.

To have a cancer-focused resource added to the page, please email
What's Coming Up
Mark Your Calendar
Cancer Center Seminar Series
Friday, January 8, 2021, 12p via Zoom
Our Cancer Center Seminar Series is on Winter Break!

Our series will return again virtually for Spring 2021 on Friday, January 8 at 12 pm. Hannelore Heemers, PhD will present on behalf of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center's GU Malignancies Program.

Dr. Heemers is associate staff at the Center for GU Malignancies Research, Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute, and an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Medicine at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. The Heemers laboratory research program focuses on generating insights into the specific molecular mechanisms by which the androgen receptor drives prostate cancer progression.
Registration Now Open: Cancer Disparities Symposium (Virtual)
March 4-5, 2021

The Case Comprehensive Cancer Center Office of Community Outreach and Engagement is pleased to present the 5th Annual Cancer Disparities Symposium, Navigating Cancer Disparities: Lessons Learned and How to Move Forward.
Registration is now open for this multi-disciplinary event for researchers, clinicians, health professionals, community outreach groups, community-based organizations, patient advocates and trainees. Keynote presentations will be delivered by renowned disparities researchers and community leaders, and a poster session highlighting academic research and community programs will provide a showcase of the depth and depth of work happening in this field.

Though the symposium is happening virtually, attendees will experience the conference using Whova, our official web-based conference app, to view presentations and ask questions in real-time, as well as network with others behind the scenes.

Call for Abstracts
Multidisciplinary researchers, community agencies and organizations are invited to submit abstracts for presentation at the 5th Annual Cancer Disparities Symposium. Abstracts will be divided into two tracks: Scientific Research and Community Programs. Meritorious abstracts will be selected for pre-recorded presentations. Abstracts must be submitted electronically by 5 pm ET on Friday, January 22, 2021.
Keynote Speakers Announced
Otis W. Brawley, MD, an internationally-recognized expert in cancer prevention and control, will present the symposium's Scientific Keynote His work is focused on closing racial, economic and social disparities in prevention, detection and treatment of cancer in the United States and worldwide.

Worta McCaskill-Stevens, MD, a medical oncologist nationally known for her expertise in bringing clinical trials to the community will present the Community Keynote. Dr. McCaskill-Stevens is Chief of the Community Oncology and Prevention Trials Research Group, which houses the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP), a community-based clinical trials network launched in 2014.
Additional Upcoming Events
AACR Virtual Meeting: COVID-19 and Cancer
Abstract Deadline: December 21, 2020
Meeting: February 3-5, 2021
Following the success of the first AACR COVID-19 and Cancer meeting in July, which attracted nearly 900 participants, the American Association for Cancer Research is inviting abstracts for a second meeting, which will explore the latest research into vaccines and treatment advances in the global fight against the pandemic, and its effects on cancer patients.

Abstract submission is now open and your work must be submitted by Monday, December 21 at 11:59 am ET.
NCCN 2021 Virtual Congress™: Breast Cancer with Updates from the 2020 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS)
Friday, February 12, 2021
Breast cancer continues to be the second most common cause of cancer death in women in the United States. Results from numerous clinical trials continue to expand diagnostic/prognostic tools, therapeutic options, and supportive care strategies. Healthcare professionals need to be educated on current and emerging scientific data to make evidence-based treatment decisions and to provide optimal care for patients with breast cancer.

The NCCN 2021 Virtual Congress™: Breast Cancer with Updates from the 2020 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) will provide expert insights on the current standard of care for patients with breast cancer and include the latest clinical research updates from the 2020 SABCS to assist clinicians in formulating breast cancer management strategies.
4th Annual International PTEN Symposium
Monday, March 15, 2021
The Genomic Medicine Institute and Center for Personalized Genetic Healthcare at Cleveland Clinic invite you to join the virtual 4th Annual International PTEN Symposium: From Patient-Centered Research to Clinical Care. They an engaging day with an emphasis on advances in the diagnosis, management and treatment of patients with PTEN Hamartoma Tumor Syndrome (PHTS).

Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, PhD, FRCP, senior scientist at the Renown Institute for Cancer and honorary professor of molecular biology at the University of Turin, will deliver the morning keynote address. Neil Friedman, MBChB, pediatric neurologist and director of quality, outcomes, and innovation at Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, will deliver the afternoon keynote address on the neurological spectrum of PHTS. Other topics include hormone use and high-risk patients, gynecological cancer risks, updates on PTEN clinical trials, and autism. Please refer to the symposium agenda for more details about this year’s speakers and topics.
Funding Opportunities
Pre-proposal Deadline: January 4, 2021
The Technology Validation and Start Fund (TVSF), funded by the Ohio Third Frontier, aims to accelerate and fund the translation of promising technologies into the marketplace through Ohio start-up companies with the eventual goal of creating greater economic growth.

CWRU is the only OH institution to have received four consecutive awards of $500,000/yr, which is administered by the Technology Transfer Office as the CWRU TVSF Program (CTP) to advance a number of selected programs over a 12-month period.

Technology focus areas:
  • Biomedical/Life Sciences
  • Advanced Materials
  • Energy
  • Software/Information Technology
  • Sensors
  • Advanced Manufacturing

Funding: $100,000 ($50,000 from CTP + $50,000 cost match by awardees). Cost match can come from other non-federal, unspent awards or department funds.
Funding Period: 12 months
Funding Announcements: Late February 2021
Funding Start Date: March-April 2021

Please review the RFP for important eligibility and grant requirements. Pre-proposals should be submitted to using the template.
Deadline: January 19, 2021
The Young Investigator Award (YIA) provides funding to promising investigators to encourage and promote quality research in clinical oncology. The purpose of this one-year, $50,000 grant is to fund physicians during the transition from a fellowship program to a faculty appointment. Applications for YIA awards in chronic lymphocytic leukemia, mantle cell lymphoma, mesothelioma and ovarian cancer are currently being accepted.

Deadline: January 19, 2021
The Medical Student Rotation (MSR) provides financial support for U.S. medical students from populations underrepresented in medicine and who are interested in oncology as a career to experience a minimum 4-week clinical or clinical research rotation. The oncology rotation can take place in a private practice, hospital or academic setting, with a focus on either direct patient care or research, provided that the research is clinically-oriented.

LOI Deadline: March 15, 2021

The Gateway Discovery Grant to Address Cancer Disparities in Clinical Trials is designed to provide funding to catalyze innovative clinical research with a strong potential impact on mitigating cancer health disparities and improving equitable access to cancer clinical trials. The grant will provide up to $1.5 million in funding for the direct costs of the research over a three- to five-year project period. Clinical trials may be focused to study any cancer type. This grant encourages submissions implemented by a multi-institutional team to facilitate collaboration and increase patient recruitment.
Deadline: February 28, 2021

The National Foundation for Cancer Research is proud to present the Salisbury Award in honor of the Salisbury family’s vision and legacy of funding “high risk, high impact, and high reward” cancer research. Over 80 years of service, the three Salisburys galvanized NFCR into a significant force in cancer research worldwide.
The Salisbury Award encourages and promotes innovative scientists and early-stage startups to translate their discoveries into therapies that can improve the lives of cancer patients. The initiative is designed to catalyze and advance promising research innovations onto the path of commercialization.

NFCR is pleased to be presenting the next Salisbury Award Competition for Entrepreneurial Translational Research, at which first, second and third-place finishers will receive prize checks of $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000, respectively. Additionally, start-ups seeking to commercialize cancer technology associated with any of these top three projects and their teams will be introduced to the AIM-HI Accelerator Fund, which was co-founded by NFCR in order to invest in promising early-stage oncology companies.
In The News
Pharmacy Times - December 10, 2020
Johnie Rose, MD, PhD discussed a study showing how Medicaid expansion in Ohio seems to have improved some income-based disparities in care processes and outcomes; yet, they found no significant effect of expansion on time to treatment for low-income women. Dr. Rose is a member of the Case CCC's Cancer Prevention, Control, & Population Research Program.
Fox 8 Cleveland - December 15, 2020
“This profound racial disparity in COVID-19 infection in cancer patients demonstrates that other factors, including access to health care, socioeconomic status and other socially adverse components, may have contributed negatively to the increased risk of COVID-19 susceptibility in African Americans with cancers,” said Rong Xu, PhD, study co-author. Dr. Xu is a member of the Case CCC.
From The NIH
Request for Information (RFI) Regarding Opportunities for New National Programs at the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research
NCI has released a Request for Information (RFI) seeking input from the cancer research community on the most important needs and promising opportunities in cancer research that are difficult to address on an individual scale but could be tackled through the NCI Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research. This is part of a planning effort to identify unique, large-scale programs of national significance that the FNLCR could support in the interest of the entire cancer research community.

Email responses to and place "RFI Response" in the subject line. Responses will be accepted through January 18, 2021.
Weekly NIH Funding Opportunities and Notices
COVID-19 Funding Opportunities and Notices
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