2017 Grant Recipient Gregory Beatty, MD, PhD

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2017 GRANTEE: Gregory Beatty, MD, PhD

University of Pennsylvania
Research Project: Multiplex Tissue-based Assays and Analytical Tools for Pancreatic Cancer
Award: 2017 Skip Viragh Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Precision Medicine Targeted Grant
Award Period: July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2021
Amount: $600,000

Biographical Highlights
Dr. Beatty is an assistant professor of medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and in the division of hematology/oncology within the Abramson Cancer Center at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Beatty graduated from Bucknell University with a BS in chemical engineering and then earned his PhD in immunology, followed by an MD from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. He went on to complete a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in medical oncology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Beatty’s research interest is in understanding the mechanism of immune escape in pancreatic cancer and translating novel immunotherapeutic strategies to the clinic for the treatment of patients with pancreatic cancer. He was the recipient of a 2015 Career Development Award from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.


Project Overview
The microenvironment that surrounds cancer is a key regulator of therapeutic efficacy. For example, cancer-associated fibrosis can impede drug delivery and limit the benefit achieved with chemotherapy. Similarly, inflammation associated with cancer can promote treatment resistance to radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy. These challenges are particularly prevalent in pancreatic cancer patients.

Strategic and rapid development of novel therapeutic interventions will be dependent on defining elements of the cancer microenvironment that can be used to predict treatment response and inform treatment resistance. However, validated and effective tools for comprehensively analyzing the microenvironment in pancreatic cancer are currently lacking.

The priority of Dr. Beatty’s project is to develop novel analytical tools for imaging multiple tissue-based markers (biological clues) to characterize the tissue microenvironment in pancreatic cancer. Specifically, the team will build a complex system to analyze pancreatic cancer and microenvironment tissue and visualize distinct proteins. Dr. Beatty and his colleagues will use this tool to measure cell-to-cell interactions and cellular activation, as well as to identify potential therapeutic targets, or proteins that could be blocked to stop or slow the growth of the tumor.

This aim will be accomplished using a stepwise development process that can be easily monitored to measure and evaluate progress. It is expected that these tools will contribute to the 2020 goal of doubling pancreatic cancer survival by providing measures for defining prognosis, guiding treatment selection and instructing the development of novel therapeutic combinations for patients with pancreatic cancer.