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University of Pittsburgh receives $10 million grant for head and neck cancer

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 26 The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) has received a five-year, $10 million Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) federal grant to examine innovative treatment strategies designed to improve survival outcomes for patients with head and neck cancer. The grant, awarded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), is the second SPORE awarded to UPCI the first was awarded to the cancer institute's Lung Cancer Program in 2001 and is one of only four SPORE grants in head and neck cancer awarded nationally.

"Head and neck cancer is one of the most physically and emotionally debilitating cancers," said Jennifer Grandis, M.D., principal investigator of the grant and professor of otolaryngology and pharmacology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and director of UPCI's Head and Neck Cancer Program. "Treatment options are limited and often leave a patient with disabling side effects that can have a devastating impact on quality of life. This grant will enable us to enhance the quality of life for head and neck cancer patients and greatly improve their prognoses through the collaborative efforts of our researchers in the laboratory and clinic."

The grant funds four major translational research projects that focus on genetic changes that are potential risk factors for head and neck cancer, intracellular signaling proteins activated during head and neck cancer, and new treatment strategies designed to reduce the morbidity and mortality from head and neck cancer.

According to Dr. Grandis, each project within the grant has two co-leaders, one with expertise in basic or laboratory science and the other with expertise in clinical research and care. By integrating laboratory findings with clinical research and epidemiological data, Dr. Grandis expects study results to be more rapidly disseminated to cancer patients. The grant also includes input from patient advocates who will focus on research-related
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