The Harold E. Eisenberg Foundation

2016

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13 Philanthropy In Action Gastrointestinal Cancer Research Featured Program: Research Scholar Announcing the Harold E. Eisenberg Research Scholar Award We are pleased to announce Guang-Yu Yang, MD, PhD, as our inaugural Harold E. Eisenberg Research Scholar in partnership with the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. This award was created to provide innovative scientists with the resources and protected time needed to ask novel research questions and explore new ideas relating to gastrointestinal (GI) cancers. Dr. Yang is the Joseph C. Calandra Research Professor of Pathology and Toxicology, as well as a surgical pathologist and professor in the Department of Pathology. He serves as director of both Surgical Pathology and the Surgical Pathology/Gastrointestinal Pathology Fellowship. In addition to his clinical duties, Dr. Yang's current research efforts include a focus on the molecular carcinogenesis and chemoprevention of gastrointestinal and pancreatobiliary cancers. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Yang has achieved tremendous research success in the field of inflammation-induced carcinogenesis and its chemoprevention. With the support of the Foundation, Dr. Yang aims to develop an effective strategy for the treatment of the highly lethal BRAF-mutant colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the United States. BRAF-mutant colorectal cancer is a distinct subset representing about 10% of all colorectal cancer cases; however, BRAF-mutant colorectal cancers tend to be more poorly differentiated, more invasive, and have a poor prognosis. Furthermore, treatment of BRAF-mutant colorectal cancers has been challenging, with no meaningful clinical activity seen in patients treated with typical therapeutic options. Achieving a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms that make BRAF-mutant colorectal cancers distinct will provide significant rationale for designing more efficacious therapies and developing a panel of biomarkers to monitor disease progression and/or therapeutic effects in this subset of colorectal cancers. This is a highly collaborative project involving several investigators, including a basic researcher, pathologist, molecular pathologist, and surgical and medical oncologists. Through this pilot study, Dr. Yang aims to accumulate the significant preliminary data for a future RO1 application to the National Institutes of Health, with the ultimate goal to lead to clinical trial. The results from this study will greatly enhance the group's understanding of the mechanism of mutant BRAF-driven gene methylation in colorectal cancer.

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