2014 Research Grant Awards - Meet the Researchers
This year Brandon's Foundation awarded its first research grants, and oh, how much we learned. Early in the year, the Research Grant Task Force sent a handful of the Request for Proposals (RFP) document to head and neck cancer specialists/researchers who had made contact with the Foundation. The Foundation's Board of Directors hoped the mailing of the RFP would generate at least 10 or possibly up to 15 research proposal submissions. The plan was to announce the awardee(s) on June 2, 2014 - the second year date of Brandon's death from head and neck cancer – following what all involved thought would be a fairly straightforward blind review process. However, it quickly became more complicated than we’d ever imagined. Somehow news that there was a RFP targeting projects focusing on head and neck cancer was sent to a service that disseminates such information worldwide to interested parties. Suddenly, the Foundation's email box was inundated with requests to forward the Foundation’s RFP.
By the proposal submission deadline date, Brandon's Foundation had received 84 research proposals from researchers working in 17 countries on 5 continents. The number of submissions was overwhelming, but it highlighted the great need for more research funding for head and neck cures and improved treatments. A number of researchers submitted a proposal, which included a personal message of thanks for funding for research for head and neck cancers because these cancers get so little funding attention in spite of the increasing incidence of them in younger age groups.
The original review process was revised somewhat in order to whittle down the number of proposal submissions sent to “blind” reviewers. (Blind review means no identifying information is included on any submission sent to reviewers, which may bias the review. The goal is that each submission be considered on merit alone.) The “whittling” process led to 20 of the 84 submissions being sent to other head and neck cancer researchers and other related, highly specialized professionals for blind review. Each of the 20 submissions was sent to 3 different reviewers.
At the end of the review process, two research proposals were awarded 2014 grant funding by Brandon’s Foundation. Scott Langevin, PhD, MHA and otolaryngologist Keith Casper, MD, from the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine/UC Cancer Institute were awarded an initial grant of $15,000 to investigate "A Comprehensive Study of Common Mutations in Sinonasal Cancer." (The Foundation’s grant award led to a matching award from the UC College of Medicine.) A second research grant award of $10,000 went to head and neck surgeon Stephen Y. Lai, MD, PhD, FACS of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, to study "MiR-27a* Targets Critical Signaling Pathways in HNSCC (head and neck squamous cell carcinoma)."
Young Professionals are invited to meet the Foundation's 2014 research grant awardees from UC College of Medicine/UC Cancer Institute, Scott Langevin and Keith Casper, at a Happy Hour hosted by The Phoenix (812 Race Street, downtown Cincinnati), December 4, 2014 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Please join Brandon’s Foundation next week! Kick off the holiday season, talk to the researchers, learn what Brandon’s Foundation is and what it does, and perhaps win a door prize!