Blog Entries - Grant Recipients
Funds will go to head and neck cancer researchers at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and the University of California, San Diego
Brandon C. Gromada died of head and neck cancer at the age of 38 three years ago today, June 2, 2012. It seems fitting that the foundation named for him announces its 2015 research grants on this third anniversary of his death. The recipients of the two grants are Nooshin Hashemi, M.D. and El Mustapha Bahassi, Ph.D. of the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine, and Rutherford (Weg) M. Ongkeko, M.D., Ph.D. of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).
The UC College of Medicine researchers are being awarded a $20,000 grant to study "Pharmacogenomic Profiling of Circulating Tumor Cells to Guide Head and Neck Cancer Therapy." A $15,000 grant will provide seed funding for Dr. Ongkeko’s research, "Characterization of Long Non-coding RNA in Poorly Differentiated Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma," at UCSD. The recipients of both grants expressed similar themes when notified their research projects were chosen for the two grants. They noted the difficulties for those seeking funding for head and neck cancer research. According to Dr. Bahassi, "Generous gifts from foundations like yours are becoming essential as research funding is facing daunting challenges." All reiterated Dr. Ongkeko’s pledge to use the funds wisely in order to better understand head and neck cancer and explore treatments that "ultimately find a cure for this unforgiving disease."
The foundation’s grant selection process takes time and effort. A “request for proposals” is made early in the year. Each submitted proposal is then sent to several experts in the field of head and neck cancer who volunteer their time to review and rate various merits of a proposal. (Submitted proposals are “blinded,” so reviewers do not know a researcher’s name.) The foundation’s board of directors uses the reviewers’ ratings to guide the final selection of projects for funding.
About Head and Neck Cancer
"Cancer of the head and neck, which includes oral cancer, receives little public attention," said Karen Gromada, chairperson of the foundation’s board of directors and Brandon’s mother, “although it is among the most common – and the most deadly – cancers in the United States.” The sixth most common cancer in the United States, its incidence has risen significantly in the last one to two decades among those 25-50 years of age. Usually a form of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), head and neck cancer’s low 50% five-year survival rate has changed little for decades. The goal of Brandon's foundation is to provide funding for innovative head and neck cancer research, which will result in cures and more effective, less-debilitating treatments while also raising awareness about the disease. The Gromadas want to end the devastation of head and neck cancer so "no other family will have to deal with the sadness we will always feel with Brandon’s death."
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