NANETS Congratulates the 2015 Young Investigator and Clinical Investigator Scholarship Recipients

Developing the next generation of clinicians and researchers in the field of Neuroendocrine Tumors (NETs) is an important objective of the NANETS organization. This grant program offers a platform to highlight and financially support the NET research being done by junior investigators in the field. Our leadership team wants to congratulate our 2015 award recipients, Arvind Dasari, MD and Bryson Katona, MD, PhD. We also want to acknowledge and express our appreciation to IPSEN Biopharmaceuticals and Novartis Oncology for their continued support and commitment to assist NANETS in fulfilling our mission. Without our corporate partners, these important research grants would not be possible.

Below is a brief description of each awardee and their project.

2015 NANETS Clinical Investigator Scholarship (NCIS)

Arvind Dasari, MD
Department of GI Medical Oncology - MD Anderson Cancer Center
Project Title: “Cyclin Dependent Kinases 4,6 Inhibitors in Foregut Neuroendocrine Tumors”

The NCIS award focuses on both the clinical project itself and the potential of the individual to make future clinical contributions to the neuroendocrine tumor field. Dr. Dasari is an ideal candidate and his research proposal and objectives show great potential. In discussing his plan, Dr. Dasari said, “Advanced neuroendocrine tumors, are lethal and have limited treatment options, in large part due to lack of adequate understanding of the underlying molecular aberrations. Overwhelming evidence point towards dysregulation of the retinoblastoma pathway (and thus cyclin dependent kinases, 4,6 cdk 4/6) in the majority of foregut NETs. Our goal in the current study is to demonstrate activity of cdk 4/6 inhibitors in foregut NETs by: 1) conducting pharmacodynamic (PD) and correlative studies on paired biopsies from a clinical trial of patients with foregut NETs treated with an oral cdk 4/6 inhibitor 2) determining activity of everolimus with an oral cdk 4/6 inhibitor in xenograft models of NETs”.

IPSEN Pharmaceuticals supports this research scholarship in the form of a $50,000 grant directed to NANETS to administer. The NANETS Research Committee establishes the award criteria, reviews process and independently selects the recipient.

2015 NANETS Young Investigator

Bryson Katona, MD, PhD
Department of Gastroenterology – University of Pennsylvania
Project Title: “Targeting endoplasmic reticulum stress in Menin-mutated NETs"

In describing his project, Dr. Katona said, “Despite many recent advances in the field of neuroendocrine tumors, there still remains a critical need to develop novel therapeutic approaches to better treat these tumors. Within the distinct genetic landscape of neuroendocrine tumors, the focus of my project is to better understand the role of Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) stress and the unfolded protein response in neuroendocrine tumor proliferation and resistance to chemotherapy. The ultimate goal of this project will be to develop novel methods to selectively target ER stress pathways to improve current treatment paradigms for the treatment of neuroendocrine tumors."

Dr. Katona conducts his research in a cancer biology lab focusing on menin. He was awarded a $50,000 grant, sponsored by Novartis Oncology and NANETS to pursue basic science/translational research focused on neuroendocrine tumors.