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BIDMC Scientists Receive Prostate Cancer Foundation Awards

Projects are part of PCF Creativity Awards Program

 BOSTON - Two projects led by scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) have received funding from the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) as part of their 2009 Creativity Awards program, which supports innovative ideas to improve the detection and treatment of prostate cancer.

The one-year awards were made to 10 projects at nine institutions throughout the U.S., with BIDMC the only institution in New England to be funded and the only institution to receive multiple awards.

PCF Creativity Awards were developed to aid the advancement of the world's most imaginative, new research ideas that are not currently funded by any existing government or private sources.

"We were impressed with the unique ideas represented by the applications we received. A rigorous peer review process vetted the 10 selected projects from a field of more than 300 applications representing 105 institutions in 11 countries," said Howard Soule, PhD, PCF executive vice president and chief scientist. "These awards feed our pipeline of compelling ideas to cultivate new solutions for the prostate cancer problem. Promising results will translate into better therapies for patients with advanced prostate cancer."

  • Towia Libermann, PhD, and Alan Rigby, PhD, will receive the Michael Vinecki Creativity Award for their work studying Ets factor binding sites on DNA, the first step in selecting candidate prostate cancer inhibitors. "We know that in 40 to 60 percent of prostate cancers, Ets factors are what lies behind both the initial disease and its progression," notes Libermann. He and Rigby will use a state-of-the-art computer-aided drug discovery platform developed in the Rigby laboratory to model the structure of these sites, with the ultimate goal of generating drug candidates to block prostate-cancer progression. Libermann is Director of the BIDMC Genomics and Proteomics Center and of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center Proteomics Core in BIDMC's Division of Interdisciplinary Medicine and Biotechnology; Rigby is Interim Director of the Program in Drug Discovery and Target Validation in BIDMC's Center for Vascular Biology Research, Division of Molecular and Vascular Biology.

  • Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, PhD, Director of Research for BIDMC's Cancer Center will receive PCF's Dan Fogleberg Creativity Award for his work on cellular senescence. "Cellular senescence is a process whereby cancer cells 'go to sleep irreversibly,'" explains Pandolfi. Building on earlier work which identified a previously unknown form of senescence in prostate cancer cells, Pandolfi will use specialized animal models of prostate cancer to evaluate chemical compounds to achieve senescence in the cancer stem cell population, which is known to be extremely difficult to eradicate.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School and consistently ranks in the top four in National Institutes of Health funding among independent hospitals nationwide. BIDMC is a clinical partner of the Joslin Diabetes Center and is a research partner of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox. For more information, visit www.bidmc.org.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation is the world's largest philanthropic source of support for prostate cancer research focused on discovering better treatments and a cure for recurrent prostate cancer. Founded in 1993, the PCF has raised nearly $370 million and provided funding to more than 1,500 research projects at nearly 200 institutions worldwide. The PCF also advocates for greater awareness of prostate cancer and more governmental research funds. PCF advocacy has helped produce a 20-fold increase in government funding for prostate cancer since 1994. More information about prostate cancer and the PCF can be found at www.pcf.org.