NCI renews Lymphoma SPORE grant at Mayo Clinic, University of Iowa

Volume 1, Issue 3, 2012
Thomas E. Witzig, M.D., a Mayo Clinic Cancer Center hematologist

Thomas E. Witzig, M.D.

The Mayo Clinic Cancer Center and Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa have received a five-year, $11.5 million grant renewal from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to continue the Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) for lymphoma research. The renewal was based on a competitive peer-review process conducted by cancer researchers around the United States.

The program, called the Lymphoma SPORE, focuses on applying scientific advances to develop new approaches for the prevention, detection, and treatment of lymphoma and lymphoid leukemia. The Lymphoma SPORE is the nation's longest running SPORE of its kind and has received more than $34 million from the NCI over its lifetime.

"Collaboration between researchers at both institutions has led to new discoveries about cancers of the immune system and to clinical trials that test novel treatments," said Thomas E. Witzig, M.D., a Mayo Clinic Cancer Center hematologist and the Lymphoma SPORE lead researcher.

"The advancements we've made and the SPORE grant itself would not have happened if our two organizations hadn't collaborated so well together," said George Weiner, M.D., director and principal investigator of the SPORE and director of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The team's work includes translational and clinical studies exploring:

  • The potential of treatments that stimulate the immune system to treat lymphoma
  • Clinical trials targeting lymphoma-specific signaling pathways
  • Discovery of gene mutations in cell-signaling pathways that contribute to development of non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Identification of key interactions between lymphoma cells and their microenvironment that can be disrupted to make cancer cells more vulnerable to chemotherapies
  • Investigation into biomarkers that could have a significant impact on the management of lymphoma

The Lymphoma SPORE research team has worked with more than 6,000 patient volunteers to better understand how genetic makeup and other factors affect the clinical outcome of patients with lymphoma and lymphoid leukemia.

SPORE funds will provide support for four major research projects, four shared research cores, clinical trials, early pilot projects, and the hiring of new investigators in lymphoma research at both institutions.