Greater Boston Head and Neck SPORE Proposal Submitted

A revised proposal for a Greater Boston Head and Neck Cancer Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) was submitted to the National Cancer Institute on September 22, 2017. Led by Dr. Maria Kukuruzinska, Professor and Associate Dean for Research at the Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine, and Dr. Robert Haddad, Disease Center Leader in Head and Neck Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the SPORE brings together exceptional scientific expertise, resources and clinical care in head and neck cancer at five major Boston area institutions, with the long-term goal of mobilizing and enhancing the research workforce dedicated to the treatment of head and neck cancer. The participating institutions are Boston University, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and Brown University.

The SPORE program promotes collaborative, interdisciplinary translational cancer research. Successful SPOREs include both basic and applied science working together to support projects that will explore novel approaches to the prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment of human cancers. Each SPORE is focused on a specific organ or group of highly related cancers, or a common theme or pathway that ties together the cancers under study. SPOREs are required to reach a human end-point within the five year funding period. Currently, there are 54 funded SPOREs across the nation.

The proposed Greater Boston Head and Neck Cancer SPORE is composed of four scientific projects, three shared resource cores, a Career Enhancement Program and a Developmental Research Program. The proposed scientific projects are:

Project 1: Advancing Dose-Painted Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy as an Adjunct to Immunotherapy for Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Head and Neck, led by Dr. Ravindra Uppaluri and Dr. Jonathan Schoenfeld, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Project 2: Targeting β-catenin/CBP Signaling in HNSCC and Immune Resistance, led by Dr. Maria Kukuruzinska, Boston University, and Dr. Lori Wirth, Massachusetts General Hospital;
Project 3: Epigenetic Immune Biomarkers of Survival in HNSCC Epidemiology, led by Dr. Karl Kelsey, Brown University, and Dr. Robert Haddad, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute;
Project 4: An Environmental Chemical Receptor in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma Aggression and in the Regulation of Immune Checkpoints, led by Dr. David Sherr, Boston University

The three proposed cores include an Administrative Core, a Biostatistics, Bioinformatics and Data Management Core and a Pathology and Biospecimens Core. The Career Enhancement Program is intended to prepare new investigators for successful careers in head and neck cancer translational research. The Developmental Research Program aims to attract and explore promising translational studies and innovative high-risk/high impact projects focused on head and neck cancer.

The SPORE proposal will be reviewed in January/February 2018 with Advisory Council review in May 2018 and a potential start date of July 2018.

“The SPORE mechanism provides a unique opportunity to support our collaborative multi-institutional translational research program in head and neck cancer.” said Dr. Maria Kukuruzinska. “Our team has worked tirelessly on developing this program, and I am confident that we have assembled the optimal team and structure for success.”