The O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center recently awarded eight projects a total of $1.2 million in research grants through its new program, O’Neal Invests. The O’Neal Invests program funds UAB investigators initiating new cancer-related projects to do key, preliminary work in order to enable competitive R01 applications.

Each grant provides $160,000 in funding over two years, while each project can include one or more principal investigators. The O’Neal Cancer Center requests applications for this program twice per year, once in the spring and once in the fall. The grant applications are then peer-reviewed by a panel of UAB faculty. Cancer Center membership is not a requirement to apply, but awardees must become members.

The second grant cycle was last fall, with the review panel meeting on Jan. 19. Each of the 40 grant applications that were submitted was reviewed by three panel members who scored it and provided written comments. Thirteen applications were discussed during the meeting, and eight achieved a fundable score.

O’Neal Cancer Center Director Barry Sleckman, M.D., Ph.D., says this year’s awardees were the best of a very impressive group of applicants. The next RFA will be posted in the spring, and applicants who were not successful this time may make revisions based on the critiques and reapply.

Congratulations to the eight awardees, who are listed below.

Fall 2020 O'Neal Invests Awardees

Anita Hjelmeland, Ph.D.

Department
Department of Cell, Developmental, & Integrative Biology

Grant
Pre-R01

Project Title
“The Role of Sialylation in Brain Tumor Initiating Cell Maintenance and Gliomagenesis”

Ryan Miller, M.D., Ph.D.

Department
Department of Pathology, Division of Neuropathology

Grant
Pre-R01

Project Title
“To Examine the Epigenetic Mechanisms of Dynamic Kinome Rewiring in Response to EGFR-targeted Kinase Inhibitor Therapies in Preclinical Models of Glioblastoma”

Lyse Norian, Ph.D., Daniel Smith, Ph.D., and Hubert Tse, Ph.D.

Departments

Lyse Norian, Ph.D., and Daniel Smith, Ph.D.
Department of Nutrition Sciences

Hubert Tse, Ph.D.
Department of Microbiology

Grant
Pre-R01

Project Title
“Evaluating the Anti-diabetic Acarbose as a Novel Adjuvant for Renal Cancer Therapeutics in a Pre-Clinical Model of Combined Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes”

Laura Rogers, M.D.

Department
Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive Medicine

Grant
Pre-R01

Project Title
“Exercise, Gut Microbiome, and Breast Cancer: Increasing Reach to Underserved Populations”

Lalita Shevde-Samant, Ph.D.

Department
Department of Pathology, Division of Molecular & Cellular Pathology

Grant
Pre-R01

Project Title
“Hedgehog Activity Regulates Nucleolar Response to Ribosomal DNA Damage in Breast Cancer”

Sunil Sudarshan, M.D.

Department
Department of Urology

Grant
Pre-R01

Project Title
“Metabolic Regulation of Cancer Invasiveness”

Casey Weaver, Ph.D.

Department
Department of Pathology, Division of Anatomic Pathology

Grant
Pre-R01

Project Title
“Deciphering the Role of IL-22 in the Pathogenesis of Colitis-associated Colorectal Cancer”

Robert Welner, Ph.D.

Department
Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology & Oncology

Grant
Pre-R01

Project Title
“Immune Cell Dysfunction Alters the Marrow Microenvironment to Promote Leukemic Disease Progression”