PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
August 3, 2023

Judith M. Persichilli

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(609) 984-7160

$3.5 Million Awarded in Cancer Research Grants to Qualified Research Institutions Across New Jersey

TRENTON ­– The New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research (NJCCR) has awarded nearly $3.5 million in state Fiscal Year 2023 funding to 21 peer-reviewed cancer research grants and fellowships to support discovery-oriented cancer research.

The 11-member NJCCR is the state’s only cancer commission that promotes basic, translational, fellowships and pilot cancer research grants to qualified research institutions in New Jersey.

Investing in cancer research is the foundation of innovation and cancer discoveries from the laboratory to the bedside and helps secure the future pool of scientists in New Jersey. Decades of research have enabled the NJCCR to award more than $52 million for 915 peer-reviewed cancer research grants and fellowships.

NJCCR remains committed to awarding qualified research institutions cancer research grants to support the next generation of scientists in New Jersey.

The following principal investigators received awards in this funding cycle:

Pilot Research Grants

  • Brett Ecker, MD & Subhajyoti De, Ph.D. ($200,000) Project: Pancreatic Cystic Neoplasms Evaluation of the tumor-microbiome-immune interactions in malignant progression of Pancreatic Cystic Neoplasms; Rutgers Cancer Institute
  • Racquel “Kelly” Kohler, Ph.D. MSPH ($182,495) Project: Preparing for implementation: a mixed methods study for anal cancer screening among people living with HIV in New Jersey; Rutgers Cancer Institute

Predoctoral Fellowship

  • Chadni Patel, BA ($100,000) Mentor: Peter Cole, MD Project: Investigating genetic susceptibility for chemotherapy-induced cognitive impairment; Rutgers Cancer Institute
  • Jared Bianchi-Smak, BS, MS ($100,000) Mentor: Nan Gao, Ph.D. Project: CD74 Receptor Activated Paneth Cells Modulate Inflammation and Cancer Progression; Rutgers University
  • Komal Mandleywala, BA, MA ($100,000) Mentor: Daniel Herranz Benito, PharmD, Ph.D. Project: Dissecting OTUD5 as a novel therapeutic target in leukemia; Rutgers University
  • Kyle Nunn, BS ($100,000) Mentor: Yanxiang Jessie Guo, Ph.D. Project: Detailing KRAS/LKB1 co-mutated NSCLC metastatic dependency on host autophagy; Rutgers University   
  • Minh Ma, BS ($99,981) Mentor: Dongfang Liu, MD, Ph.D. Project: Evaluation of combination mTOR agonist and CD147-IL15-CAR-NK cell therapy in transgenic human CD147 Hepatocellular Carcinoma models; Rutgers University
  • Ryan McNulty, BE, MA ($100,000) Mentor: Brittany Adamson, Ph.D. Project: Elucidating the genetic drivers of immune activation by dendritic cells as a novel strategy for cancer immunotherapy; Princeton University
  • Salma Youssef, BS ($100,000) Mentor: Yabin Kang, Ph.D. Project: Gut microbiome impact on tumor progression and immunotherapy response; Princeton University
  • Weronika Wasniowska, BS ($100,000) Mentor: David I. Shreiber, Ph.D. Project: Leveraging production of reactive oxygen species in photodynamic therapy for development of a novel drug targeting strategy; Rutgers University

Postdoc Fellowship

  • Amartya Singh, Ph.D. ($200,000) Mentor: Daniel Herranz Benito, PharmD, Ph.D.  Project: Development of a novel single-cell transcriptomics analysis toolkit; Rutgers Cancer Institute
  • Jianming Wang, Ph.D. ($200,000) Mentor: Wenwei Hu, Ph.D. Project: Targeting intestinal epithelium-immune cell crosstalk in colorectal cancer; Rutgers Cancer Institute
  • Jie Liu, Ph.D. ($200,000) Mentor: Zhaohui Feng, Ph.D. Project: The mechanism of SUMO-specific protease 6 in cancer; Rutgers Cancer Institute
  • Mikel Ghelfi, Ph.D. ($200,000) Mentor: Jean-Pierre Issa, MD Project: Synthetic discovery of isoform specific TET inhibitors by a novel high-throughput screening assay; Coriell Institute for Medical Research           
  • Mona Arabzadeh, Ph.D. ($200,000) Mentor: Shridar Ganesan, MD, Ph.D. Project: Integrated analysis of imbalanced allelic expression to infer gene regulatory patterns; Rutgers Cancer Institute
  • Parijat Sil, Ph.D. ($196,650) Mentor: Danelle Devenport, Ph.D. Project: Dissecting the role of Dishevelled in the spatial organization of Frizzled during epithelial planar cell polarity establishment; Princeton University
  • Yongzhen Liu, Ph.D. ($200,000) Mentor: Alexander Ploss, Ph.D. Project: Modeling chronic hepatitis B virus infection and virally-induced hepatocarcinogenesis in a small non-human primate model; Princeton University

Pediatric Research Grants

  • Beth Savage, Ph.D. ($198,450) Project: Poverty, Neuroinflammation, and Symptoms in Childhood ALL; Rutgers University
  • Jian Huang, Ph.D. ($199,998) Project: Targeting Sprouty Signaling for Overcoming FLT3i Resistance in Pediatric AML; Coriell Institute for Medical Research    
  • Mi-Hyeon Jang, Ph.D. ($200,000) Project: Identification of biomarkers for chemobrain in pediatric ALL patients; Rutgers University
  • Rebecca Burdine, Ph.D. ($200,000) Project: The role of Nodal signaling in promoting partial EMT migration; Princeton University 

The New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research was created in 1983 by P.L. 83, c. 6, which is also known as the Cancer Research Act. The mission and vision of the NJCCR is to promote significant and original research into the causes, prevention, and treatment of cancer and serve as a resource to providers and consumers of cancer services. This year marks the commission’s 40th anniversary. For more information on the commission, visit www.nj.gov/health/ces/njccr.

Last Reviewed: 8/3/2023