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Congressman Higgins Announces $3 Million Grant for Ovarian Cancer Research at Roswell Park Cancer Institute

May 19, 2015
Press Release

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced that Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) researchers Brahm Segal, MD, and Kirsten Moysich, PhD, have received a five-year, roughly $3 million award from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to study immune responses in women with ovarian cancer and to identify biomarkers that can predict response to treatment. First-year funding will be $589,735, and funding in each of the subsequent four years of the project is expected to be at a similar level.

“I’m pleased to see the groundbreaking work occurring at Roswell be recognized by the National Cancer Institute through this long-term, significant investment in ovarian cancer research,” said Congressman Brian Higgins. “This is one of many examples of Roswell’s excellence and national leadership in cancer research, control, and prevention.”

“The immune responses we observe in the tumor environment of patients with advanced ovarian cancer mimic those stimulated by infection and may increase tumor spread,” says Dr. Segal, who is Chief of Infectious Diseases and Member of the Department of Immunology at Roswell Park and a Professor of Medicine at the University at Buffalo (UB). “The goals of this grant are to identify novel immune markers that could distinguish ovarian cancer patients with a very poor prognosis from those who will have better treatment success. This work may also lead to the development of new therapeutic approaches for ovarian cancer.”

Dr. Moysich, Professor of Cancer Prevention and Control and Immunology at Roswell Park and a Distinguished Professor and Chair of Cancer Pathology and Prevention at UB, adds: “Our hope is that these new data will ultimately help us to identify patients who are less likely to benefit from traditional ovarian cancer treatment, but might be candidates for new immunotherapies that Roswell Park scientists are developing. This work has the potential to have very high impact because it directly targets patients with the worst type of disease within a disease that is already one of the deadliest cancers.”

Drs. Segal and Moysich added that this research takes advantage of the fantastic expertise, resources, and infrastructure for translational research at Roswell Park. Their RPCI colleague Kevin Eng, PhD, will lead the biostatistical analysis, and Dr. Francesmary Modugno, PhD, MPH, of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) will be co-investigator on this study.

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2015, about 21,000 women will be newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer and about 14,000 women will die of this disease.