Newswise — New Brunswick, N.J., June 21, 2021 – A diverse, global team of scientists led by a Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey leader has been selected for the final stages of Cancer Grand Challenges – with a chance of securing a share of $111 million in funding to take on one of cancer’s toughest problems.

Nearly 170 teams submitted ideas for this round of awards and the CANCAN team, led by Rutgers Cancer Institute Deputy Director, Chief Scientific Officer and Associate Director for Basic Research Eileen White, PhD, is one of 11 shortlisted groups. Uniting researchers from the US and the UK, the team draws together a unique set of expertise – including cancer, metabolism, neuroendocrinology, immunology and more.

They will now receive seed-funding to draft their full research proposal and compete for a a nearly $28 million Cancer Grand Challenges award, which would provide the scientific freedom to come together and think differently in pursuit of solving one of cancer's toughest challenges. Up to four winning teams will be announced early 2022.

If successful, the CANCAN team would seek to tackle the challenge of cachexia, an extreme wasting condition often experienced in the late stages of cancer. A deeper understanding of how and why people’s health deteriorates in this way could lead to new treatments and vastly improve quality of life and survival for people with late-stage cancer.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to coalesce our group of investigators and bring new ideas and approaches to this critical unmet medical need,” says CANCAN team lead Dr. White, who is also a distinguished professor of molecular biology and biochemistry in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University and co-director of the Cancer Immunology and Metabolism Center of Excellence at Rutgers Cancer Institute.

“This round of Cancer Grand Challenges has demonstrated the fresh thinking that can be sparked when global teams unite across disciplines to bring new perspectives to tough challenges,” adds Dr. David Scott, director of Cancer Grand Challenges. “We were thrilled to receive such a strong response from the global research community.”

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About Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

As New Jersey’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Rutgers Cancer Institute, together with RWJBarnabas Health, offers the most advanced cancer treatment options including bone marrow transplantation, proton therapy, CAR T-cell therapy and complex surgical procedures.  Along with clinical trials and novel therapeutics such as precision medicine and immunotherapy – many of which are not widely available – patients have access to these cutting-edge therapies at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New Brunswick, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey at University Hospital in Newark, as well as through RWJBarnabas Health facilities. To make a tax-deductible gift to support the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, call 848-932-8013 or visit