ThyCa Awards New Thyroid Cancer Research Grants: Thyroid Cancer Experts and Survivors Collaborate

June 24, 2013—ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc. is proud to announce the funding of six thyroid cancer research grants, including new grants and continuation grants, all funded through contributions to ThyCa from thyroid cancer patients, family members, and friends.

This is the eleventh consecutive year in which ThyCa has awarded research grants. The grant recipients were selected by an independent expert panel of the American Thyroid Association (ATA). Researchers and institutions worldwide are eligible for ThyCa grants.

The new grant recipients are researchers at Duke University Hospital, Durham, North Carolina; Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts; and Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.  The Ric Blake Memorial Thyroid Cancer Research Grants are named for ThyCa Co-Founder Ric Blake, in honor of his dedication and commitment to ThyCa and to our goal of better futures for everyone with thyroid cancer, everywhere in the world 

The new grants are awarded to these researchers in Medullary Thyroid Cancer and Papillary Thyroid Cancer:

  • Nicole Chau, M.D., Harvard Medical School and Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, for the project “Overcoming Resistance to RET inhibitors in Medullary Thyroid Cancer.” Dr. Chau is a medical oncologist and the goal of this project is to compare the efficacy of current and novel RET inhibitors against specific oncogenic RET mutations in Medullary Thyroid Cancer and to predict and study acquired resistance mechanisms.
  • Brittany Bohinc, M.D., Duke University Hospital, Durham, North Carolina, for the project “Overexpression of LGR4 and LGR5 in Human Thyroid Cancer Promotes Wnt/β-Catenin Signaling and is Associated with Tumor Aggressiveness.” This project will focus on understanding the role of specific pathways and markers in nodal metastases and aggressive tumor behavior, with this understanding aiding potential development of novel therapeutics in metastatic papillary thyroid cancer that is unresponsive to current therapies. This grant is the 2013 Ric Blake Memorial Thyroid Cancer Research Grant.
  • Jaroslaw Jendrzejewski, M.D., Ohio State University Columbus, Ohio for the project “Analysis of locus 14q13.3 in search of mutations predisposing to Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma (PTC).”  This two-step project aims to uncover mutations by combining second-generation sequencing with bioinformatic analysis of 14q13.3 locus, which genome wide association studies have identified as one of the most important in genetic predisposition to PTC.

ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association has also awarded a second year of funding to its three 2012 grant recipients, also selected by ATA’s independent panel. These research projects focus on anaplastic and differentiated thyroid cancer. Researchers and projects include:

  • Niklas Finnberg, Ph.D., Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, Hershey, Pennsylvania, for the project titled “Sorafenib and Quinacrine as Potential Combination for Anaplastic Thyroid Carcinoma.”
  • Aime Franco, Ph.D., University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas, for the project titled “The Role of RAS versus RAF in Thyroid Cancer Development and Progression.”
  • Andreas Lundqvist, Ph.D., Cancer Center Karolinska, Stockholm, Sweden, for the project titled “Study the Role of Natural Killer Cells in Anaplastic Thyroid Carcinoma.”  Dr. Lundqvist is the recipient of the Ric Blake Memorial Thyroid Cancer Research Grant.

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, and open to researchers and institutions worldwide. ThyCa has awarded more than $1.2 million for thyroid cancer research, to researchers in France, Germany, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States.

ThyCa’s grants are made possible through the generous contributions of all amounts from thousands of thyroid cancer survivors, family members, and friends who want to support increased research to find better treatment options and cures for all thyroid cancer, one of the few cancers significantly increasing in the number of newly-diagnosed patients. 

“ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association is excited to raise urgently needed funds for thyroid cancer research. We are grateful to all of our many donors,” said ThyCa Executive Director Gary Bloom. “We greatly appreciate our collaborative efforts with the American Thyroid Association. We’re pleased to support the best thyroid cancer research projects proposed by young investigators, with funding available to researchers and research centers worldwide.”

Our thanks to the American Thyroid Association (ATA), the professional association of research and clinical thyroidologists, for your ongoing support and collaboration. ATA said, “It is an honor to partner with ThyCa year after year to support our common goal of advancing thyroid cancer research to improve the lives of thyroid cancer patients. We thank ThyCa and its members for your continued dedication and support of thyroid cancer research!”

Grant recipients from 2003 – 2013 are researchers at these institutions:

  • Cancer Center Karolinska, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Cochin Institut, Paris, France
  • Duke University Hospital, Durham, North Carolina
  • Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 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
  • Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, Hershey, Pennsylvania
  • Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois
  • University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas
  • University of California Los Angeles/Veterans Affairs West Los Angeles Health Care System, Los Angeles, California
  • University Hospital Basel, Basel, Switzerland
  • University Hospital Duesseldorf, Duesseldorf, Germany
  • University of Illinois at Chicago, Illinois
  • University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas
  • Washington Hospital Center/Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

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. Information about ThyCa’s Rally for Research fundraising can be found on our Rally for Research page.

This year ThyCa is marking its 18th year of providing free services to thyroid cancer survivors, families, medical professionals, and the public. ThyCa sponsors webinars, seminars, workshops, thyroid cancer support groups; one-to-one support from ThyCa volunteers; free publications including handbooks on all types of thyroid cancer, a downloadable low-iodine cookbook, a patient information packet and many other publications; pediatric backpacks with information kits for children and teens with thyroid cancer and their families; monthly online newsletter; and an educational web site with more than 700 pages in English, Chinese, Spanish, French, and Japanese. ThyCa receives guidance from its Medical Advisory Council of world recognized experts in the field of thyroid cancer.      

ThyCa sponsors Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month in September, a worldwide observance, plus year-round awareness campaigns, as well as, and the annual International Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Conference. Details are available on our website or by calling 1-877-588-7904 or e-mailing