University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

NIH Grant Supports Collaborative Oral Cancer Research

By | November 30, 2012

NIH Grant Supports Collaborative Oral Cancer Research

Donna Albertson, PhD

The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded nearly half a million dollars to the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) for a collaborative research project that includes New York University (NYU), Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), and Providence Cancer Center.

The project is A New CTSA Partnership to Translate an Oral Cancer Biomarker from Lab to Clinic.

With the incidence of oral cancer on the rise, particularly among young people and women, this collaborative effort is focused on identifying oral cancer patients who are at low risk of cervical lymph node metastasis, and reducing the number of major surgeries to remove cervical lymph nodes, which are costly and inherently risky.

The aims of this NCATS supplemental award are to enhance collaborations among investigators from the 60-member Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program performing multidisciplinary projects in the area of bench-to-bedside translational research. UCSF, NYU, and OHSU are all part of the national CTSA consortium. The CTSA program is funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the National Institutes of Health.

"This is a perfect example of the kind of project the CTSA consortium has made possible,” said Clay Johnston, MD, PhD, associate vice chancellor of research and director of CTSI at UCSF. “It funds a very promising diagnostic approach through a typical gap in translation and it combines world-leading expertise from several institutions into a powerhouse team."

Donna Albertson, PhD, Evelyn and Mattie Anderson Endowed Chair in Cancer Research and professor in residence at UCSF’s Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, is project director for this research. She will collaborate with subcontract principal investigators Brian Schmidt, DDS, MD, PhD, a professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery at NYU and director of the university’s Bluestone Center for Clinical Research; Eric Orwoll, MD, associate dean for Clinical Science at OHSU and director of the Oregon Clinical & Translational Research Institute; and R. Bryan Bell, MD, DDS, FACS, medical director of the Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Program at Providence Cancer Center. Other collaborators include Henrik Bengtsson, PhD, and Rob Wynden at UCSF and Rob Schuff at OHSU.