ThyCa Awards New 2008 Research Grants

ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc., is proud to announce two new 2008 ThyCa Research Grants plus two continuation grants. The grant recipients were selected by an independent expert panel of the American Thyroid Association (ATA).

First awarded in 2003, and continuing every year since, ThyCa’s grants are the first-ever thyroid cancer research grants to be funded entirely by thyroid cancer patients, caregivers, and friends. The ThyCa grants are open to researchers and institutions worldwide. ThyCa has awarded more than $450,000 for thyroid cancer research.

The 2008 new ThyCa grant recipients are:

  • Mike S. Fenton, Ph.D., Assistant Researcher, Endocrinology, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)/Veterans Affairs West Los Angeles Health Care System, Los Angeles, California.
  • Libero Santarpia, M.D., Ph.D., Instructor, Endocrine Neoplasia and Hormonal Disorders, The University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.

Dr. Fenton’s research will focus on determining promoter gene regulation of the sodium/iodide symporter (NIS) gene expression in papillary thyroid cancer. This is an important issue because some differentiated thyroid cancers lose their NIS gene expression and cannot take up radioactive iodine I131, resulting in a poor prognosis.

Dr. Fenton received his Ph.D. from UCLA, and during his graduate and post-doctoral research, he developed expertise in regulation of gene transcription and was first author of four papers published in prestigious journals.

Dr. Santarpia’s research will focus on identifying the target genes of six microRNAs (miRNA) in human medullary thyroid cancer, examining a specific role of miRNAs to promote invasion and metastasis. The six miRNAs are specifically associated with medullary thyroid cancer metastasis.

Dr. Santarpia earned M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Medina, in Italy, where he also completed a medical residency, followed by fellowships at the University of Naples, Italy, and the Hospital Trial Pujon in Barcelona, Spain. He has been at M.D. Anderson Center since 2006. He received The Endocrine Society Young Investigator Travel Award in 2007.

ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association has also awarded a second year of funding to its two 2007 grant recipients, also selected by ATA’s independent panel:

  • Krystian Jazdzewski, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Medical University of Gdansk, Poland, and Visiting Scientist, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Jazdzewski’s research focuses on the role of miR146a in papillary thyroid carcinoma.
  • Mabel Ryder, M.D., Assistant Attending Physician, Division of Endocrinology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York. Dr. Ryder’s team is examining the role of Tumor-Associated Macrophages (TAMs) on thyroid cancer progression.

ThyCa’s grants, now in their sixth year, are made possible through the contributions from thousands of thyroid cancer survivors, family members, and friends who want to support increased research to find cures for all thyroid cancer, one of the few cancers increasing in incidence.

“ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association is proud to raise much-needed funds for thyroid cancer research, and grateful to our many donors,” said ThyCa Executive Director Gary Bloom. “We greatly appreciate the opportunity to work with the ATA. We’re especially pleased to support the best thyroid cancer research projects proposed by young investigators, with applications open to researchers and research centers worldwide.”

Grant recipients from 2003 through 2008 include researchers at these institutions:

  • Cochin Institut, Paris, France
  • Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York
  • Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, and Medical University of Gdansk, Poland
  • Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois
  • University of California Los Angeles/Veterans Affairs West Los Angeles Health Care System, Los Angeles, California
  • University Hospital Duesseldorf, Duesseldorf, Germany
  • University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas

Our thanks to all our generous donors and volunteers for making these grants possible. Together, we are able to accomplish what most of us cannot do individually—fund independently reviewed research toward cures for all thyroid cancers.

ThyCa has two Research Funds. One fund supports research on follicular-cell-derived thyroid cancer, including papillary, follicular, anaplastic, and variants. The other fund supports research on medullary thyroid cancer.

Both funds welcome contributions of any size. ThyCa is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and all donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

ThyCa invites everyone to join us in our quest to find a cure for all thyroid cancer, one of the few cancers increasing in incidence in recent years.

To find out more about our Research Funds, Rally for Research, and opportunities to contribute through the Combined Federal Campaign and other programs, visit