Training grant for cancer research extended five more years

Penn State College of Medicine has again been successful in extending funding from the National Cancer Institute through a training grant for vital research into viruses that cause cancer. This training grant has been in place for more than 20 years.

This August, the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the Penn State Cancer Institute were successful in renewing the training grant funding to continue groundbreaking research for another five years – something that many other universities have not been able to achieve, said Dr. Craig Meyers. distinguished professor of microbiology and immunology. “We’re listed right up there with the big names,” he said. “A lot of universities want it.”

Meyers, director of the Viruses and Cancer Training Program wrote the grant.

Training grants are highly desirable grants, aimed at training predoctoral students and postdoctoral fellows in specific areas of research. Across the country, there are very few training grants that focus on viruses and cancer.

“This is a very difficult effort, especially since the majority of renewals of training grants with this longevity have been unsuccessful in obtaining their renewals,” he added. “The longer you’ve had them, the harder it is to get them renewed.”

Understanding cancer-causing viruses

There are seven human cancer viruses, Meyers explained. Understanding their causes and effects, what prevents them and how to treat them has been the focus of the College of Medicine’s research. Viruses are among the most important carcinogens known, accounting for over 15 percent of all human cancers.

“The focus is to work on those seven viruses – but someone could also work on animal models,” Meyers said. In addition, researchers are digging into other cancer-prevention tactics. For example, viruses that play no role in causing human cancer can be used to treat cancer, either by direct killing of tumor cells or serving transmitters to target death to tumor cells.  Members of the Viruses and Cancer Training Grant are also researching the field of immunology related cancer. Novel immunotherapeutic strategies for the prevention and treatment of a range of human cancers are growing in importance. Researchers monitor immune responses in cancer patients undergoing therapy, too.

Learn more about the research being funded by this grant in this Penn State Medicine article.

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Last Updated November 02, 2017