Miller School Researchers Win Grants to Conquer Florida’s No. 1 Killer

Seven Miller School investigators are among the 31 recipients of the 2013 research grants the Florida Department of Health awarded recently to help researchers at state university and research institutes find cures for cancers and tobacco-related diseases.

The winning proposals, which range from detecting smoking-related head and neck cancer early to improving the rate of minorities who appropriately take cholesterol-lowering medications, underscore the Miller School’s continued dedication to developing innovative treatments for cancer, which is the leading cause of death in Florida, and claimed 41,696 lives last year.

“The large number of quality applications from the Miller School and Florida’s broader biomedical research community speaks volumes about the promising future of research in our state,” said the Miller School’s Daniel Armstrong, Ph.D., Executive Vice Chair of Pediatrics and Director of the Mailman Center for Child Development, who chairs the state’s Biomedical Research Advisory Council. “We could not ask for a broader or stronger research community at the University, or in our state. Both are most deserving of our public support for work that benefits us all.”

Designed to advance cures for all cancers, the $400,000 awards were provided through the Bankhead-Coley Cancer Research Program and the James and Esther King Research Program, which funds research for tobacco-related diseases. The Miller School recipients are:

  • Elizabeth Franzmann, M.D., associate professor of otolaryngology, who received a Bankhead-Coley Award for “Early Detection for Smoking-Associated Head and Neck Cancer”
  • Tan Ince, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of pathology, who received a Bankhead-Coley Award for “Analysis of Heat Shock Factors in Tumor Stem Cell Regulation”
  • Krishna Komanduri, M.D., professor of medicine, microbiology and immunology and Medical Director of the Adult Stem Cell Transplant Program at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, who received a Bankhead-Coley Award for “Selective Inhibition of GVHD for Allogeneic Transplantation for Cancer”
  • Rakesh Singal, M.D., associate professor of medicine, who received a Bankhead-Coley Award for “Methylation Profiling in Free Circulating DNA as a Biomarker for Risk Stratification of Prostate Cancer”
  • Chunming Dong, M.D., associate professor of medicine, who received a King Award for “MicroRNA Regulation of Smoking Induced Endothelial Progenitor Senescence”
  • Michael Kapiloff, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pediatrics and Director of the Cardiac Signal Transduction and Cellular Biology Laboratory at the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute, who received a King Award for “Therapeutic Targeting of RSK3 in Heart Failure”
  • Ana Palacio, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of medicine, who received a King Award for “Improving Adherence to Cholesterol Lowering Medications Among Minority Populations in Florida: A Randomized Trial.”

The summer competition for the 2013 awards, which were awarded based on rigorous peer review, was extremely competitive, with 106 applicants seeking King funding and 160 applicants seeking Bankhead-Coley funding.

In addition to the Miller School, Bay Pines Veterans Affairs Hospital, Florida International University, Florida State University, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, the Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, the University of Central Florida, the University of Florida, and the University of South Florida also received awards.

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