People with Fanconi anemia (FA) are at a very high risk of developing head and neck cancers because of the underlying DNA repair problem in FA. Research is the key to understanding, diagnosing, and treating these cancers. That’s why the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund (FARF) has joined Stand Up To Cancer® (SU2C) and three partner organizations to fund $3.25 million in grants to find new treatments for head and neck cancers.
The grants include contributions of $1.5 million each from the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund and the Farrah Fawcett Foundation. The American Head and Neck Society and the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance are each providing $125,000 to support the project.
The grants will support new approaches to treating head and neck cancers, especially those associated with Fanconi anemia and human papillomavirus (HPV). The incidence of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma in people with Fanconi anemia is 500- to 700-fold higher than in the general population and treatment options are limited. HPV is a very common virus that can cause cancer, including cancer of the throat; approximately 45,300 people with HPV will get a cancer diagnosis every year in the U.S.
Head and neck cancers associated with FA or HPV have something in common: genetic defects that cause FA, as well as genetic changes resulting from HPV infection, both adversely affect DNA repair systems, which can lead to cancer.
“These grants will collectively benefit people with Fanconi anemia and their families in a meaningful and impactful way,” said Mark Quinlan, executive director of the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund. “We’re excited to join the other funders and Stand Up To Cancer on this project, which will facilitate the collaboration between experts from multiple fields to help tackle some of the biggest challenges associated with head and neck cancers.”
The research team will be entitled the Stand Up To Cancer–Fanconi Anemia Research Fund– Farrah Fawcett Foundation Head and Neck Cancer Research Team and the researchers will be brought together in an innovative way. After a request for applications, scientists will be selected to attend a two-day Ideas Lab, scheduled for early 2021. The Ideas Lab will be structured to help leading scientists from different disciplines explore how they could work together to make progress on understanding head and neck cancers. At the end of the meeting, the researchers will be invited to write formal proposals and suggest a budget for a three-year grant.
“Bringing together this group of donors provides a unique opportunity to unite researchers who typically take different approaches to similar underlying molecular problems that lead to various forms of head and neck cancers,” said Lee Helman, MD, Director of the Osteosarcoma Institute and vice-chair of the SU2C Scientific Advisory Committee. Helman will lead the Head and Neck Cancer Research Team joint scientific advisory committee. “This is the type of collaboration that Stand Up To Cancer fosters and it’s wonderful to see how this model leads to new ways to approach questions in cancer biology and treatment.”
Stand Up To Cancer released a Request for Applications for the Ideas Lab today. The groups are asking scientists to apply to take part in the Ideas Lab by March 22, 2021. Scientists from all areas of oncology, along with biology, engineering, chemistry, physics and other disciplines, are encouraged to apply.
Applications will be evaluated by a Head and Neck Cancer Research Team joint scientific advisory committee to decide on invitations to the Ideas Lab. That committee, which is led by Helman and includes representatives from each of the funding organizations, will also select and oversee the Head and Neck Cancer Research Team.
About Stand Up To Cancer
Stand Up To Cancer® (SU2C) raises funds to accelerate the pace of research to get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives now. SU2C, a division of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, was established in 2008 by media and entertainment leaders who utilize these communities’ resources to engage the public in supporting a new, collaborative model of cancer research, to increase awareness about cancer prevention, and to highlight progress being made in the fight against the disease. As of August 2020, more than 1,950 scientists representing more than 210 institutions are involved in SU2C-funded research projects.
Under the direction of our Scientific Advisory Committee, led by Nobel laureate Phillip A. Sharp, Ph.D., SU2C operates rigorous competitive review processes to identify the best research proposals to recommend for funding, oversee grants administration, and ensure collaboration across research programs.
Current members of the SU2C Council of Founders and Advisors (CFA) include Katie Couric, Sherry Lansing, Kathleen Lobb, Lisa Paulsen, Rusty Robertson, Sue Schwartz, Pamela Oas Williams, and Ellen Ziffren. The late Laura Ziskin and the late Noreen Fraser are also co-founders. Sung Poblete, Ph.D., R.N., serves as SU2C’s CEO. For more information, visit StandUpToCancer.org.