Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center Announces ACS Institutional Research Grant Recipients


The Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center – Jefferson Health is pleased to announce the most recent recipients of the American Cancer Society Institutional Research Grants.

American Cancer Society Institutional Research Grants are awarded to institutions as block grants to provide seed money for newly independent investigators to initiate research projects. The intent of this support is to allow awardees to obtain preliminary results that will enable them to compete successfully for peer-reviewed national grants in cancer research. The grants, which are renewable, are made for one to three years and average $120,000 per year.

This year’s awardees are as follows:

Veronica Rodriguez-Bravo, PhD, Assistant Professor of Cancer Biology, Thomas Jefferson University

Rodriguez-Bravo and her team are interested in uncovering novel molecular insights regulating genome integrity and their role in cancer progression. In particular, they study how nuclear pores contribute to genomic stability in prostate cancer. In their current project, they will use an innovative fluorescent reporter system to study real-time cell cycle progression in prostate cancer models by live-imaging microscopy. This technology will enable post-mitotic cell fate analysis at the single cell level after genetic and pharmacologic modulation of specific nucleoporins and mitotic signaling pathways.





Edward Hartsough, PhD, Research Instructor of Cancer Biology, Thomas Jefferson University

Mutations in the RAS-RAF-MEK-ERK pathway are drivers in many forms of human malignancies. In particular, the serine/threonine kinase BRAF is mutated in about 8% of all cancers. Targeted inhibitors have been designed to block aberrant BRAF; however due to differences in cellular signaling, efficacy of these drugs are limited to a subset of mutant BRAF tumors. The goal of Hartsough and colleagues’ proposal is to evaluate the effectiveness of a unique property of the “next-generation” RAF inhibitor, PLX8394, in mutant BRAF cancers thought to be refractory to existing therapies.





Russell McIntire, PhD, Assistant Professor, Jefferson College of Population Health

McIntire and his colleagues will map the geographic distribution of newly diagnosed patients at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center over the past three years and identify how the patient distribution varies by neighborhood social, economic, and environmental factors. They will also perform focused analyses on patients who enrolled in a clinical trial as part of their care at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center to uncover geographic areas where patients on clinical trials are more-or-less likely to live, and identify the predictors of trial participation based on clinical, demographic, social, environmental, and geographic characteristics. The results of this project will inform cancer center administrators about important characteristics of patients in the catchment area and provide preliminary data to support the enrollment of patients to clinical trials.




Neda Nikbakht, PhD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology and Cutaneous Biology, Thomas Jefferson University

The goal of Nikbakht and her team’s project is to discover new approaches to overcoming the limitations of immunotherapy in the treatment of melanoma. Nikbakht and colleagues aim to investigate the properties of dysfunctional T cells in melanoma. They will then examine if an epigenetic modulator known as a BET-inhibitor can improve the function of the T cells that have lodged inside melanoma tumors, and as a result improve outcomes of immunotherapy.