Advancing Team Science

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Dr. Trevor Pugh receives award that will promote collaborative cancer research.
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Funding from the award will enable Dr. Trevor Pugh, Scientist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (pictured), to better customize immune-based anti-cancer therapies to individual patients.

Princess Margaret Cancer Centre Scientist Dr. Trevor Pugh has received one of five 2018 Phillip A. Sharp Innovation in Collaboration Awards from Stand Up To Cancer. The US $250,000 grant, awarded to Dr. Pugh and his collaborator Dr. David Barrett from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, aims to promote collaboration among cancer researchers.

Drs. Pugh and Barrett will use the funds to develop personalized medicine tests for children with cancer. Specifically, they will examine the genetic makeup of patients’ immune cells involved in mounting anti-cancer responses. The researchers will develop ways to use this genetic information to match patients with clinical trials of drugs that are designed to boost the immune system’s anti-cancer response. This treatment strategy, called immunotherapy, is one of today’s most promising approaches to treat cancer.

One unique aspect of this award is how quickly projects are selected, approved and funded: the entire process takes just a few weeks. This is done so that the research can begin right away. This year, the selection committee placed particular emphasis on teams of researchers who had not worked together in the past—with the aim of bringing the researchers closer together so that they can better leverage and share resources and expertise.

The Sharp Awards are sponsored by Stand Up To Cancer, a charitable organization that raises funds “to accelerate the pace of groundbreaking translational research that can get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives now.” They are named after Dr. Phillip A. Sharp, winner of the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1993 and chair of Stand Up To Cancer’s Scientific Advisory Committee.

Dr. Pugh and Dr. Barrett’s specific Sharp Award was co-sponsored by the Emily Whitehead Foundation, whose mission is “to raise awareness and funding for innovative childhood cancer treatments, such as immunotherapy, that will improve survival rates and quality of life.”