Professor Matthew Shoulders and Postdoctoral Fellow Peyton Shieh receive American Cancer Society Grants

Department of Chemistry
September 5, 2018

The American Cancer Society, the largest non-government, not-for-profit funding source of cancer research in the United States, has approved funding for 110 grants totaling $47,624,000 to researchers and health professionals at 72 institutions nationwide in the first of two grant cycles for 2018. Of the grants, 101 are new while nine are renewals of previous grants. The grants went into effect July 1, 2018. In Massachusetts, nine new grants and renewals were awarded, totaling $4,202,000, plus an additional six “pay-if” grants, subsidized by donors, totaling $1,696,000.

Whitehead Career Development Associate Professor Matthew D. Shoulders and Dr. Peyton Shieh, a Postdoctoral Fellow in Professor Jeremiah Johnson's group, are two of the researchers who received grants.

“This funding support will be transformative for my laboratory as we try to develop the first blood test for brain cancer, monitoring patients throughout the course of their treatment. Through this four-year grant, we hope to develop a better understanding of this highly fatal disease, helping to guide treatment, matching patients to the appropriate clinical trials and ultimately, hoping to find new and novel therapies that could transform cancer care in brain cancer,” said Dr. Stott. “The American Cancer Society has been a long-time supporter of my research. First, through 'pay-if' grant support of my postdoctoral fellowship, they took a big risk on a mechanical engineer and allowed me to apply my technological know-how to cancer research. Just as meaningfully, local Society staff have been an incredible emotional support, cheering me on and helping to promote my work through the years. I now feel incredibly honored to be a recipient of a Research Scholar Grant, allowing me to take that very technology and apply it in a deep and meaningful way to brain cancer.”

Other highlights include Mo Motamedi, Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, who is leading an investigator-initiated study. Dr. Motamedi will focus on two major challenges in cancer treatment: resistance to chemotherapy and the recurrence of the disease. His lab will focus on the observation that a small number of non-dividing cancer cells originating from the primary tumor disperse throughout the body and remain in a state of dormancy called quiescence. Dr. Motamedi hopes the work will lead to the identification and eventual development of new therapies against dormant cancer cells.

Since 1946, the American Cancer Society has funded research and training of health professionals to investigate the causes, prevention, and early detection of cancer, as well as new treatments, cancer survivorship, and end of life support for patients and their families. In those more than 70 years, the American Cancer Society’s extramural research grants program has devoted more than $4.6 billion to cancer research and is honored to have given funding to 47 investigators who went on to win the Nobel Prize.

The Council for Extramural Research also approved 90 grant applications totaling more than $43.1 million that could not be funded due to budgetary constraints. These “pay-if” applications represent work that passed the Society’s multi-disciplinary review process but are beyond the Society’s current funding resources. They are called “Pay-If” because they can be and often are subsidized by donors who wish to support research that would not otherwise be funded. In 2017, more than $11.5 million in additional funding helped finance 39 “pay-if” applications.

For more information about the American Cancer Society Research Program, please visit http://www.cancer.org/research.