Grants Will Support Critical Research in Early Detection and Better Treatment Options As Well As Funding for Researchers To Build Their Careers in the Pancreatic Cancer Field

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (Aug. 3, 2022) – The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN), a leading nonprofit in the fight against pancreatic cancer, announced today the recipients of its 2022 research grants program. This year, $10.5 million will be awarded for 16 new grants and PanCAN will extend funding to nine past grantees to continue their highly promising research projects. This research investment is the organization’s largest ever in a single year. Along with its transformational scientific and clinical initiatives, including the PanCAN Precision PromiseSM adaptive clinical trial and PanCAN’s Early Detection Initiative, the organization’s total research investment was $25 million last year.

As the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States and with a five-year survival rate of just 11%, pancreatic cancer demands urgent action to save lives. There is currently no standard early detection test for pancreatic cancer and few effective treatments are available, making the ongoing funding of innovative research crucial to solving this challenging disease.

In addition to leading large-scale, groundbreaking research initiatives, PanCAN fund grants for basic, translational and clinical research in pancreatic cancer that go to scientists and clinicians at various career levels. Since 2003, PanCAN’s grants program has awarded 234 grants to 213 scientists at 79 institutions. Beyond research funding, grant recipients also gain access to PanCAN’s Community for Progress, a cohesive network of researchers focused on improving pancreatic cancer patient outcomes through mentorship and collaboration.

PanCAN’s expanded Grants Program is awarding several types of research grants this year falling into three categories: Early Career, supporting investigators establishing independent labs with a focus on pancreatic cancer research; Treatment, focusing on projects designed to develop new and more effective treatment for pancreatic cancer patients; and Early Detection, funding projects seeking to develop better tools to diagnose pancreatic cancer at its earliest stages.

“Thanks to the support of our generous donors, we are proud to be making our largest-ever investment in research grants this year,” said Julie Fleshman, JD, MBA, president and CEO of PanCAN. “The innovative projects being funded will advance the field allowing us to better understand how the disease develops and progresses, develop more effective treatments and identify new strategies to diagnose it earlier.”

The following researchers are recipients of PanCAN Career Development Awards and Extensions this year:

  • Brittany Allen-Petersen, PhD, Purdue University, funded by The Rockhammer Charitable Fund
  • Jashodeep Datta, MD, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Aaron Hobbs, PhD, MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, in memory of Skip Viragh
  • Janielle Maynard, PhD, Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center
  • Jami Saloman, PhD, University of Pittsburgh Department of Medicine, in memory of Skip Viragh
  • Rahul Shinde, PhD, The Wistar Institute
  • Kea Turner, PhD, Moffitt Cancer Center
  • Gillian Gresham, PhD, Cedars-Sinai Cancer, funded by the George & June Block Foundation (received extension building upon 2020 grant)

All newly funded Career Development Award recipients are first-time PanCAN grantees, and three new institutions will receive funding for the first time ever. All grantees and extensions were selected through a thorough, peer-review process.

In the treatment-centric category, PanCAN is awarding two Precision Medicine Targeted Grant extensions and five Translational Research Grant extensions. As well as – for the first time ever – PanCAN created its Therapeutic Accelerator Award (TAA), a multimillion-dollar grant to drive the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry to prioritize pancreatic cancer. In addition to the TAA being awarded to Verastem Oncology to conduct an early-phase clinical trial of two investigational targeted therapies, additional funding will be distributed to a TAA Collaborative working group made up of researchers across the country in partnership with Verastem to broaden the scientific understanding of Verastem’s proposed treatment combination. Translational experiments will explore ways to understand mechanisms of resistance, potential new combination approaches and ways to identify which patients’ tumors may be most likely to respond.

All grantees in this category include:

  • Precision Medicine Targeted Grant Extensions
    • Gregory Beatty, MD, PhD, Penn Pancreatic Cancer Research Center, funded by Leslie Gaynor in memory of Phyllis Bolotin
    • Sunil Hingorani, MD, PhD, University of Nebraska Medical Center
  • Translational Research Grant Extensions
    • Susan Bates, MD, Columbia University Irving Medical Center
    • Fengzhi Li, PhD, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center
    • Kenneth Olive, PhD, Columbia University Irving Medical Center
    • Xiaoyang Qi, PhD, University of Cincinnati Cancer Center
    • Jill Smith, MD, Georgetown University
  • Therapeutic Accelerator Award, supported by the 1440 Foundation and the Gail V. Coleman-Kenneth M. Bruntel Research Fund
    • Louis Denis, MD, Verastem Oncology
  • Therapeutic Accelerator Collaborative Awards
    • Andrew Aguirre, MD, PhD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
    • Gregory Beatty, MD, PhD, Penn Pancreatic Cancer Research Center
    • Louis Denis, MD; Jonathan Pachter, PhD, Verastem Oncology
    • Channing Der, PhD; Kirsten Bryant, PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    • David DeNardo, PhD, Washington University in St. Louis
    • Marina Pasca di Magliano, PhD, University of Michigan

Additionally, the following researchers are recipients of PanCAN Catalyst Awards, with a focus on early detection and improving diversity and equity in understanding pancreatic cancer genetic risk factors:

  • Sapna Syngal, MD, MPH, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • Nicolette Juliana Rodriguez, MD, MPH, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, funded by an anonymous foundation
  • Suresh Chari, MD, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, funded by Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation honoring the memory of Shirley Sadoff

We would like to thank Janssen Research & Development, LLC, for the partial support of the REGENERATE project.

Learn more about PanCAN’s research investments, visit or follow the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

About the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) leads the way in accelerating critical progress for pancreatic cancer patients. PanCAN takes bold action by funding life-saving research, providing personalized patient services and creating a community of supporters and volunteers who will stop at nothing to create a world in which all pancreatic cancer patients will thrive.