The Tisch Cancer Institute Scholars Program
We live in a time of unprecedented discovery about cancer. More than ever before, advances in genetics, immunology, and cell biology are enabling a deeper understanding of cancer prevention, care, and treatment. We imagine a future where this knowledge offers limitless potential to better treat and even cure cancer. The Tisch Cancer Institute Scholars Program (TCI Scholars) redoubles the efforts of our already high-quality cancer research program through fresh approaches from up-and-coming scientists.
Our TCI Scholars program provides promising early- and mid-career investigators at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai with annual awards to support their innovative cancer research.
By supporting TCI Scholars, you can:
- Fund a critical need: Young investigators face limited options for funding from traditional sources such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The TCI Scholars program enables these promising scientists to put their research plan into action quickly.
- Ensure Mount Sinai retains the brightest minds in cancer research: Donors to The TCI Scholars program provide the kind of flexible, reliable funding that helps recruit the most brilliant investigators to Mount Sinai—and keep them here.
- Fund groundbreaking research at the outset: Fueled by early support, TCI Scholars will be better positioned to receive larger grants, publish their findings in leading journals, and train the next generation of researchers. Your contribution will enable our young investigators to put their research plans into action and accumulate the preliminary data—and establish credibility—to take their translational research from concept to actualization. As a result, patients will have access to innovative new treatments sooner.
The TCI Scholars Program funds the following:
Specific cancers including:
- Breast & Gynecologic Cancers
- Liver & Colon Cancers
- Prostate Cancer
- Lung Cancer
- Multiple Myeloma
Specific approaches including:
- Prevention & Early Detection
The TCI Scholars Program is open to early- to mid-career cancer faculty throughout the Mount Sinai Health System who are doing cancer-related research. We are particularly interested in projects designed with the goal of generating the preliminary data needed to secure external funding from the NIH or other sources. We select TCI Scholars on a competitive basis by an expert review committee led by Ramon Parsons, MD, PhD, Director of The Tisch Cancer Institute, who will ensure that the process is objective, thorough, and balances support for basic, clinical, and translational research.
Meet Our Scholars
This inaugural year (2022), we had a total of 74 applicants, and we were able to fund the 3 incredible research projects below. With your support, we hope to grow the program significantly over the next few years.
Project Title: Preventing antigen escape relapse post-immunotherapy by potentiating fas-mediated bystander signaling
Project Summary: Cancer immunotherapy has revolutionized patient care by allowing the patient’s immune system to target specific ‘antigens’ present on cancerous cells, but not healthy cells. One major limitation of T-cell-based immunotherapies is a phenomenon known as “antigen escape,” which occurs when a subset of cancer cells lose the targeted antigen.
In this project, we will test several therapies that can prevent antigen escape by boosting a process called bystander killing, where targeted tumor cells are destroyed along with bystander tumor cells, regardless of antigen expression, and thereby increase T cell efficacy.
Project Title: Mobile Ostomates Resources intervention for patients and caregivers (MORE)
Project Summary: Approximately 700,000 individuals in the United States have an ostomy – a surgically created opening in the body for the discharge of body wastes (e.g., urine and feces). Patients and their caregivers reported having insufficient psychological preparation for ostomy surgeries, and very lmited hands-on training on stoma care and use of stomal appliances.
To facilitate post-surgical stoma care education and psychological adjustment for patients with new ostomies, we developed MORE, a web-based interactive program. In this study, we will examine the acceptability and feasibility of MORE with new ostomy patients and their caregivers. We hope our program will improve patient and caregiver knowledge about ostomy surgeries and skills needed for ostomy care.
Project Title: Therapeutic modulation of intermediate tumor subpopulations to delay treatment induced neuroendocrine prostate cancer
Project Summary: Metastatic prostate cancers are treated with clinical androgen receptor (AR) inhibitors including Xtandi, Apalutamide, and Bavdegalutamide; however chronic blockade of AR leads to neuroendocrine prostate cancer with aggressive metastasis and poor prognosis.
Using patient tumor samples, we discovered that treatment with drugs targeting the EZH2 molecule cause prostate cancer cells to be more sensitive to AR inhibitors and less likely to progress to neuroendocrine disease. . If our preclinical studies continue to be successful, our results could provide new clinical regimens consisting of the combined targeting AR and EZH2. This may allow for the extended and more effective use of Xtandi, Apalutamide, and Bavdegalutamide in localized and AR-positive metastatic prostate cancer while avoiding adaptive neuroendocrine lineage changes.