Tisch Cancer Institute Director Ramon Parsons Awarded $6.7 Million for Research on Cancer-Causing Gene Mutated in Cancers with the Least Treatment Options
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded Ramon Parsons, MD, PhD, the prestigious Outstanding Investigator Award, granting him $6.7 million over seven years for research into the tumor-suppressing functions of the PTEN gene, which he discovered.
Dr. Parsons will use this award to determine how PTEN, a tumor-suppressing gene, and its variant, PTEN-L, are regulated, to study tumors’ development and metabolism when the gene is inactivated, and to develop therapies that target tumor cells that have cancer-causing mutations to the PTEN gene. He has dedicated the last 20 years to research on how PTEN mutations cause cancer and how to disrupt metabolic pathways within the mutations to kill cancer.
“I am grateful to the National Cancer Institute for this award that will lead to a greater understanding of PTEN’s inactivation and regulation, which may lead to improved therapy for cancer patients,” said Dr. Parsons, Director of The Tisch Cancer Institute, an NCI-designated cancer center. “Understanding PTEN could hold the key to helping patients with some of the most aggressive and the most treatment-resistant cancers, such as triple-negative breast cancer and prostate cancer,”
Dr. Parsons hopes to further investigate the finding in his latest published research that a rheumatoid arthritis drug can block a metabolic pathway that occurs in tumors with a common cancer-causing gene mutation, offering a new possible therapy for aggressive cancers with few therapeutic options, including triple-negative breast cancer, prostate cancer, endometrial cancer, and glioblastoma, a brain cancer. He also will investigate how PTEN is regulated in normal cells that are becoming dysregulated in cancer and determine how PTEN regulates cell proliferation.
Dr. Parsons’ research will also study small molecule treatments or combination treatments that aim to manipulate pathways that function in PTEN or within PTEN loss, particularly a protein that can slow tumor cell growth and metastasis and an enzyme that controls tumor production.
Outstanding Investigator Awards provide funding to investigators with outstanding records of productivity in cancer research to continue or embark upon new projects of unusual potential. Award recipients are cancer researchers, nominated by their institutions, who have demonstrated outstanding productivity.
“The NCI Outstanding Investigator Award addresses a problem that many cancer researchers experience: finding a balance between focusing on their science while ensuring that they will have funds to continue their research in the future,” said Dinah Singer, PhD, director of NCI’s Division of Cancer Biology. “With seven years of uninterrupted funding, NCI is providing investigators the opportunity to fully develop exceptional and ambitious cancer research programs.”
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