The UM SPORE continues to emphasize the importance of the DRP as an integral part of the of our prostate cancer research community. Through a process of rigorous peer review, we continue to encourage innovative and high risk / high reward prostate cancer research by established as well as new investigators to the field. DRP investigators are assisted not only by the DRP Co-leaders but also by the entire Operating Committee. The DRP is guided by the following Specific Aims:
Specific Aim 1: To fund new ideas and pilot studies in prostate cancer research.
Specific Aim 2: To guide successful completion of projects.
Specific Aim 3: To nurture developmental projects by mentoring investigators and monitoring research.
The Developmental Research Program offers three types of awards: pilot projects, seed grants, and summer student projects. Pilot projects are funded for between $40,000 to $50,000 for one year and are meant to generate preliminary feasibility data for NIH R01 proposals or equivalent applications. Seed grants are funded for up to $10,000 for one year and are meant to support the pursuit of an innovative or high risk idea. Summer student projects are funded for up to $5,000 each. No previous prostate cancer research is required for the awards. Offering these awards at different funding levels supports our objectives to seek proposals which further translational prostate cancer research and explore new ideas and innovative technology.
Dr. Maha Hussain and Dr. Mark Day serve as Co-Directors for the Developmental Research Program. Dr. Hussain is a Professor of Internal Medicine and Urology, and is nationally and internationally recognized for her scientific clinical research expertise in the area of genitourinary-oncology, particularly prostate and bladder cancers. She serves as the "clinical" expert for the Research Development Program. Dr. Mark Day is a Professor of Urology and has published extensively in the area of prostate tumor cell biology. He serves as the "basic science" mentor of the Developmental Research Program. Dr. Day is the PI of the Urology Training Grant and participates as a mentor in the Cancer Biology Training Grant. Drs. Hussain and Day meet twice with each project investigator to review progress. Project investigators also take part in the monthly SPORE meetings and annual retreat.
Recently funded projects:
1. Functional analysis of HOXB13 coding mutations associated with increased risk of Prostate Cancer
PI: Jeffrey Innis, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Human Genetics and Pediatrics
This project will provide insight into the molecular basis for prostate cancer susceptibility by studying the specific alterations in MEIS protein binding, DNA binding, and transactivation caused by the four HOXB13 missense mutations identified in men with hereditary prostate cancer.
2. Probing the Biology of Prostate Cancer Stem Cells with Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells
PI: Paul Krebsbach, D.D.S., Ph.D., Department of Biologic and Material Sciences
This project will use our expertise in the study of induced pluripotent stem cells and PCa cell biology to gain a better understanding of the biology of CSCs and how these cells develop metastatic potential. Accomplishing these goals is an important prerequisite to the development of preventive or therapeutic protocols for PCa.
3. Development of small molecule inhibitors of MMSET methyltransferase in prostate cancer
PI: Tomasz Cierpicki, M.Sc., Ph.D., Department of Pathology
The objective of this project is to develop small molecule inhibitors targeting MMSET histone methyltransferase as potential therapeutic agents for the treatment of prostate cancer.
4. Development of Targeted Nano-Bubbles for Advanced Prostate Cancer Imaging and Therapy
PI: Mohamed El-Sayed, Ph.D., Department of Biomedical Engineering
The objective of this research is to develop targeted nano-bubbles that can be used in combination with therapeutic ultrasound (US) for detection, imaging, and selective ablation of prostate cancer cells.
5. Development of Promoter-selective Androgen Receptor Antagonists for Prostate Cancer Therapy
PI: Diane Robins, Ph.D., Department of Human Genetics
The goal of this project is to identify selective modulators of AR that inhibit expression of genes
promoting cancer growth but retain expression of genes involved in differentiation to lessen prostate cancer resistance and reduce side effects of treatment.
6. Microfluidic Systems Approach for Efficient Capture and Molecular Phenotyping of Circulating tumor Cells (CTCs)
PI: Jianping Fu, Ph.D., Department of Mechanical Engineering
This proposed research will uniquely focus on a high-risk but high-payoff concept: to directly isolate and characterize the rare and viable CTCs as surrogates to understand the crucial early metastatic can aid in the design of more effective molecular treatments.