ThyCa Awards New Thyroid Cancer Research Grants

Thyroid Cancer Experts and Survivors Collaborate

ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc. is proud to announce the funding of three new 2011 Thyroid Cancer Research Grants plus two 2010 continuation grants. The grant recipients were selected by an independent expert panel of the American Thyroid Association (ATA).

The recipients of the three new grants are researchers at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts; University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas; and Washington Hospital Center/Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

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. ThyCa has awarded more than $750,000 for thyroid cancer research, to researchers in France, Germany, Switzerland, and the United States. The ThyCa grants are open to researchers and institutions worldwide.

The 2011 new ThyCa grant recipients are:

  • Naifa L. Busaidy, M.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Endocrine Neoplasia & Hormonal Disorders at the University of Texas – M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Her project is titled “A PI3K Based Phophoproteome Signature To Predict Prognosis and Response to Therapy in BRAF Mutant Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma.” Dr. Busaidy’s project is based on the finding that some recurrent papillary thyroid cancers that are resistant to radioiodine have the BRAF mutant and activation of the P13K pathway. The research aims to understand the role of the particular pathway(P13K) in the development of aggressive forms of the BRAF mutant papillary thyroid cancer, which currently has few treatment options when it is progressing.

  • Joanna Klubo-Gwiezdzinska, M.D., Ph.D., Endocrine Research Fellow, Washington Hospital Center/Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., for the project, “The Role of the Translocator Protein (TSPO) in the Thyroid Cancer Response to Treatment.” This project will focus on papillary, follicular, and medullary thyroid cancer, using both in vitro and in vivo studies. The long-term goal is to assess the potential usefulness of TSPO as a predictor of response to radiation treatment, thereby enabling better selection of patients who might benefit; moreover, pharmacologically modifying selected TPSO properties may be potentially useful for sensitizing the cancer to further radiation treatment

  • Carmelo Nucera, M.D., Ph.D., Harvard Medical School, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts, for the project “Targeting BRAFV600E with an Orally Available Selective Inhibitor in Novel In Vitro and In Vivo Preclinical Models of Human Papillary Thyroid Cancer.” This project focuses on BRAFV600E mutation, the genetic alteration present in more than 50% of PTC and associated with worse outcomes and a lower survival rate. Dr. Nucera notes that recently developed orally available selective inhibitors of BRAFV600E have been shown to promote regression of tumors in melanoma patients and to inhibit proliferation of anaplastic thyroid cancer cell lines and colorectal and melanoma cell lines in-vitro. This project will study the impact of the BRAFV600E inhibitor PLX4032 on iodide metabolism/transport, cell proliferation, adhesion, migration/invasion, and metastasis.

ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association has also awarded a second year of funding to its two 2010 grant recipients, also selected by ATA’s independent panel:

  • Rozita Bagheri-Yarmand, Ph.D., University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer, Houston, Texas, for the project “Center Activating Transcription Factor 4 (ATF4), a Novel Putative Tumor Suppressor Gene in Medullary Thyroid Cancer.”

  • Tania Pilli, M.D., University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, for the project “The Role of MADD, an IG20 Gene Splice Variant, and Its Potential Use as Therapeutic Target in the Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer.”

ThyCa’s grants, now in their ninth 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 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 much-needed funds for thyroid cancer research, and grateful to our many donors,” said ThyCa Executive Director Gary Bloom. “We greatly appreciate our cooperative 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.”

Grant recipients from 2003 – 2011 include researchers at these institutions:

  • Cochin Institut, Paris, France
  • 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
  • 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 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.For iInformation about ThyCa’s Rally for Research fundraising, click here.

This year ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc. is marking its 16th year of providing free services to thyroid cancer survivors, families, medical professionals, and the public. ThyCa sponsors free year-round thyroid cancer support groups; one-to-one support from ThyCa volunteers matched by type of thyroid cancer; numerous free publications including a Patient Information Packet, a downloadable low-iodine cookbook now in its expanded 7th edition in English, French, and Spanish, and many other publications; free pediatric backpacks with information kits for children and teens with thyroid cancer and their families; free monthly online newsletter; and an educational web site with more than 650 pages. ThyCa receives guidance from its Medical Advisory Council of world recognized experts in the field of thyroid cancer.

The American Thyroid Association (ATA) is the lead medical professional organization dedicated to promoting thyroid health and understanding thyroid biology and all thyroid diseases in the United States. The ATA values scientific inquiry, clinical excellence, public service, education, collaboration, and collegiality. The ATA fosters excellence in research, patient care, and education of patients, the public, and the medical and scientific communities.

ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc. sponsors Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month in September, a worldwide observance, plus year-round awareness campaigns in support of early detection, treatment and monitoring, and helping connect people affected by thyroid cancer with ThyCa’s free services and resources. ThyCa also sponsors seminars, webinars, regional workshops, and the annual International Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Conference. Details are available on our website, or by calling 1-877-588-7904 or e-mailing