O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center senior scientists Donald Buchsbaum, Ph.D., and Pran K. Datta, Ph.D., recently received research grants from the Richard A. Elkus, M.D., Eminent Scholars Program in Gastrointestinal Oncology.

Donald Buchsbaum, Ph.D.Donald Buchsbaum, Ph.D.

Buchsbaum’s project, “RAS Inhibitor Therapy of Pancreatic Cancer,” and Datta’s project, “Developing a Novel Therapeutic Strategy in Colon Cancer Using STRAP siRNA-based Nanoparticles Alone and with Co-delivery of 5-FU and Oxaliplatin,” aim to develop new therapies and therapeutic strategies for pancreatic cancer and colorectal cancer, respectively.

With this funding, Buchsbaum seeks to identify inhibitors of RAS pathways that are activated in human pancreatic tumors. RAS are a family of genes that make proteins involved in cell signaling pathways that control cell growth and cell death. Mutated forms of the RAS genes occur in more than 90% of patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, which is a deadly form of cancer with only a 10%, five-year survival rate.

Datta’s funded project focuses on targeting a unique oncoprotein, called STRAP, which is upregulated in 51% of adenomas and in 70% of colorectal cancers, leading to the promotion of colorectal cancer initiation, progression and metastasis. In colorectal cancer patients, the upregulation of STRAP is associated with worse survival following adjuvant therapy.

Pran K. Datta, Ph.D.Pran K. Datta, Ph.D.

Buchsbaum serves as the senior advisor for cancer immunology at the O’Neal Cancer Center, as well as the director of the UAB Division of Radiation Biology, while Datta is a professor in the UAB Division of Hematology & Oncology, in addition to the division’s director of research.

The Richard A. Elkus, M.D. Eminent Scholars Program in Gastrointestinal Oncology at the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center promotes innovative research and scientific understanding of gastrointestinal cancer, especially pancreatic cancer. Elkus himself was a Birmingham orthopedic surgeon whose family established the program in his honor after he died from prostate cancer in 2005. The fund supports various studies on how gastrointestinal cancer develops, while also exploring new avenues for early detection and treatment.

For more information on the Richard A. Elkus, M.D. Eminent Scholars Program in Gastrointestinal Oncology, contact Lisa Roth via phone at (205) 934-0930 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..