2019 Grantee: Dannielle Engle, PhD
Salk Institute for Biological Studies
Research Project: CA 19-9 Promotes Pancreatitis and Pancreatic Cancer
Award: 2019 Skip Viragh Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Career Development Award
Award Period: July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2021
Dr. Engle is currently an assistant professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. She earned her PhD from the University of California, San Diego, in 2011. While completing her doctoral studies, her father passed away from pancreatic cancer.
In 2012, Dr. Engle joined the lab of Pancreatic Cancer Action Network grantee David Tuveson, MD, PhD, as a postdoctoral fellow. As a postdoc, Dr. Engle focused on developing new models of pancreatic cancer to facilitate the discovery of early detection strategies and new treatment approaches.
Dr. Engle is the recipient of a National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute Career Transition Award and a Theodore T. Puck Award, among other honors.
Pancreatitis in a type of pancreatic inflammation that results in more than 275,000 hospital admissions each year in the United States and is lethal in 10 percent of cases. Pancreatitis is a major risk factor for developing pancreatic cancer. More research into pancreatitis, and how it contributes to tumor formation, may uncover treatment targets.
CA19-9 is a biomarker that is often elevated in both pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer patients. In her previous work, Dr. Engle discovered that CA19-9 elevation causes pancreatitis in pancreatic cancer mouse models. And in the mouse models, blocking CA19-9 dramatically reduced the severity of pancreatitis.
Building on her past work, Dr. Engle’s study will further investigate ways through which CA19-9 elevation promotes pancreatitis and pancreatic tumor formation. The study will serve as the basis for future pre-clinical and clinical intervention trials using agents that target CA19-9 and the proteins and pathways it activates.