Four Penn researchers win grants for pancreatic cancer

Posted: April 11, 2013

Four University of Pennsylvania researchers have been awarded $2.4 million in grants to study pancreatic cancer.

They were among $5 million in grants announced Wednesday by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PCAN) and the American Association for Cancer Research. The money came from PCAN. Both groups were involved in choosing the grant recipients.

Only 6 percent of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are alive after five years. PCAN's goal is to double the survival rate by 2020.

The local grant recipients are:

Robert Vonderheide, of Penn, along with Dafna Bar-Sagi at New York University will get a three-year $1 million grant to study an immune system treatment for pancreatic cancer. That grant is supported by Tempur-Pedic, the largest corporate fundinger of PCAN, in memory of the brother of a company official.

Anil Rustgi will work with Johns Hopkins University doctors to develop a screening method for people at high risk of the disease. They also will receive $1 million over three years.

Andrew Rhim will receive a two-year $200,000 to study an early-detection technique.

M. Celeste Simon's two-year $200,000 grant will be used to study the role of inflammation in pancreatic cancer.

Contact staff writer Stacey Burling at 215-854-4944 or

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