Friday, February 5, 2021

On Thursday, the University of Iowa announced that the first $7.5 million of the investment revenue generated from the public-private partnership (P3) for its utility system would include a $600K+ award for the College of Dentistry. With this support, an interdisciplinary team with over 40-people, including Iowa faculty from the Colleges of Dentistry, Medicine, Pharmacy, and Engineering, will develop the preliminary data and program structure to apply and be competitive for an $11 million grant from the NCI/NIDCR to establish a P50 Specialized Program of Research Excellence in oral cancer. This specialized research program in oral cancer will be the first of its kind in the nation.

Each year, approximately 53,000 people are diagnosed with some form of oral cancer and almost 10,000 die. Early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of oral cancer significantly enhance survival rates and reduce morbidity.

These P3 funds will significantly improve the chances that this interdisciplinary team will be able to secure P50 funds for each of the proposed research projects, and these projects would in turn help fill gaps in knowledge and in clinical translation necessary to substantially improve early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of oral cancer.

More specifically, the P3 funds will enable the team to develop the infrastructure and administrative units for supporting each of the research projects, and it will allow the project teams to generate preliminary data.  

In their award letter, Provost Kevin Kregel and Vice President of Research Martin Scholtz said of the project, "Establishing the nation’s first NCI/NIDCR P50 in Oral Cancer will bring national and international distinction to the University of Iowa. We look forward to seeing the progress towards establishing the support activities necessary to be competitive in the P50 grant submission."

The six projects are as follows:

Project 1: The Oral Microbiome in Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma (OSCC)

Co-PIs: Jeffrey Banas, PhD; David Drake, PhD; Sukirth Ganesan, BDS, PhD; Co-Is: Emily Lanzel, DDS; John Hellstein, DDS; Xian Jin Xie, PhD; Eric Taylor, PhD; Liu Hong, MD, PhD; Consultant: Kim Brogden, PhD

Project 2: Dissecting the PRMT5 regulatory pathway in oral epithelium differentiation

Co-PIs: Robert Cornell, PhD; Eric Van Otterloo, PhD; Ronald Weigel, MD, PhD; Co-Is: John Hellstein, DDS; Xian Jin Xie, PhD

Project 3: Tissue-Engineered Approaches for Oral Cancer Reconstructive Surgery

Co-PIs: Liu Hong, MD, PhD; Hongli Sun, PhD; Co-Is: Nitin Pagedar, MD; Brad Amendt, PhD; Marisa Buchakjian, MD, PhD; Xuan Song, PhD

Project 4: In situ Immunization with nanoparticles for treating oral squamous cell carcinoma

Co-PIs: Ali Salem, PhD; George Weiner, MD; Co-Is: Douglas Laux, MD; Andrean Simons-Burnett, PhD; Kyungsup Shin, DMD, PhD; Kim Brogden, PhD; Xian Jin Xie, PhD

Project 5: Discovering Genetic Susceptibility to Oral Cancer

Co-PIs: Xian Jin Xie, PhD; Erliang Zeng, PhD; Co-Is: Robert Cornell, PhD; Azeez Butali, DDS, PhD; Ronald Weigel, MD, PhD; Benjamin Darbro, MD, PhD

Project 6: NEK2 in Oral Cancer Biology and Therapy

Co-PIs: Frank Zhan, MD, DDS, PhD; Marisa Buchakjian, MD, PhD; Emily Lanzel, DDS; Co-Is: Carryn Anderson, MD; Veeratrishul Allareddy, BDS