The Blog

The Woiner Foundation reaches GuideStar Exchange Bronze Participation Level

i Nov 15th No Comments by

PrintThe Woiner Foundation today received the GuideStar Exchange Bronze participation level, a leading symbol of transparency and accountability provided by GuideStar USA, Inc., the premier source of nonprofit information. This level demonstrates The Woiner Foundation’s deep commitment to nonprofit transparency and accountability.

“We are working hard to showcase our progress toward our mission and our belief in being transparent about our work, to our supporters,” said Jessica Fera, The Woiner Foundation’s founder and executive director.” As a GuideStar Exchange participant, we use their platform to share a wealth of up-to-date information about our work to our supporters and GuideStar’s immense online audience of nonprofits, grantmakers, individual donors, and the media.”

In order to be awarded the GuideStar Exchange logo, The Woiner Foundation had to fill out every required field of our nonprofit report page on www.guidestar.org for the Bronze level of participation.

Going forward, the foundation is committed to providing the necessary information to become a GuideStar Exchange Gold Participant.

About the GuideStar Exchange

The GuideStar Exchange is an initiative designed to connect nonprofits with current and potential supporters. With millions of people coming to GuideStar to learn more about nonprofit organizations, the GuideStar Exchange allows nonprofits to share a wealth of up-to-date information with GuideStar’s many audiences. Becoming a GuideStar Exchange participant is free of charge. To join, organizations need to update their report pages, completing all required fields for participation. The GuideStar Exchange level logos, acknowledged as symbols of transparency in the nonprofit sector, are displayed on all Exchange participants’ nonprofit reports.

NCI renews SPORE grant of more than $12 million for melanoma, skin cancer research at UPCI

i Nov 12th No Comments by

JohnKirkwoodThe University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) Melanoma and Skin Cancer Program (MSCP) led by John Kirkwood, M.D., has received renewal of its skin cancer research through the National Cancer Institute’s competitive Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) program. The grant is for more than $12 million.

Since, Aug. 2012, Jessica Fera, founder and executive director of The Woiner Foundation, has served as a patient advocate for Dr. Kirkwood’s SPORE program, and was part of the team that helped to submit the grant for renewal.  The Woiner Foundation directly supports Dr. Kirkwood’s work through its fundraising initiatives.

The award is the fourth grant awarded to UPCI through the prestigious SPORE program, which requires cancer institutes to document strong collaboration between eminent scientists and clinicians as well as outstanding programs in translational research. The other three grants at UPCI are in head and neck, lung and ovarian cancers.
The SPORE grant for skin cancer will fund three new projects and the expansion of one prior project. These include:

  • Biomarkers of the proinflammatory response and elements of immune suppression: The goal of this project is to find biomarkers in melanoma patients at diagnosis or early in the disease that may predict the benefit of treatment with the drugs ipilimumab or interferon-α (IFNα) for each individual, as well as to assess the risk of melanoma recurrence and death. This effort continues earlier research that revealed biomarker patterns associated with pro-inflammatory immune responses and with immunosuppression in both tumor tissue and circulating blood.
  • Multiple antigen-engineered dendritic cell immunization and IFNα-2b boost for vaccine immunotherapy of metastatic melanoma: This project tests an improved dendritic cell vaccine targeting tumor antigens given in combination with IFNα-2b with the aim of boosting the immune response against the cancer.
  • Safety and efficacy of vemurafenib and high-dose IFNα-2b for advanced melanoma: This project will test whether vemurafenib, a drug that inhibits a signaling protein called BRAF, can enhance the therapeutic efficacy of IFNα-2b in patients with metastatic melanoma. In earlier work, the team found BRAF inhibitors make melanoma cells more sensitive to the effects of IFN-α, suppressing cell proliferation and encouraging apoptosis, or programmed cell death; increase T cell-mediated immune responses to melanoma cells; and prolong the survival of mice in a model of melanoma.
  • A microneedle vaccine program for immunotherapy of melanoma and cutaneous T cell lymphoma

Dr. Kirkwood’s melanoma research team first received SPORE funding five years ago and the grant’s five past projects have focused on immune approaches to treatment of melanoma and other skin cancers. The incidence of melanoma continues to rise dramatically. There has not been effective therapy to improve overall survival for the majority of patients with inoperable metastatic disease, although progress in the molecular therapy and immunotherapy of melanoma now has improved prospects for patients with melanoma considerably.

“We want to improve our understanding of the molecular and immunologic mechanisms underlying melanoma progression and to validate prognostic and predictive biomarkers that will lead to the personalized treatment of melanoma and other skin cancers,” Dr. Kirkwood said. “Our research is unique because we have integrated an approach that includes experts in melanoma from medical oncology, dermatology, surgery, immunology, biostatistics, bioinformatics, and biomarker discovery.”

Nancy E. Davidson, M.D., director of UPCI and its clinical partner, UPMC CancerCenter, called the SPORE grant a “perfect storm” in that it combines UPCI’s long-term scientific and clinical expertise in melanoma and immunology with the activities of the Department of Dermatology under the leadership of Louis Falo, M.D., Ph.D., and is tightly linked to national and international clinical trials activities in the cooperative groups.

“Multidisciplinary care is at the crux of modern cancer medicine and is critical for scientific discovery and translation,” Dr. Davidson said. “This SPORE grant is a great example of that.”

About 76,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed every year in the United States and about 9,400 people will die every year from the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Dr. Kirkwood said the work being done through the SPORE grants is already making a difference. There have been several new therapies for melanoma approved since 2011, compared to just three agents approved in the 30 years prior.

About UPCI
As the only NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center in western Pennsylvania, UPCI is a recognized leader in providing innovative cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment; bio-medical research; compassionate patient care and support; and community-based outreach services. UPCI, a partner with UPMC CancerCenter, investigators are world-renowned for their work in clinical and basic cancer research.

Source: UPMC.com

Quick Facts: A Pancreatic Cancer Infographic

i Nov 11th No Comments by

This infographic below, created by the Lustgarten Foundation, presents quick facts about Pancreatic Cancer, risk factors, diagnosis and procedures. Please share it with your family and friends to help raise awareness!

Also from the Lustgarten Foundation: 5 Most Important Facts About Pancreatic Cancer

LFFoundationInfoGraph

Predicting cancer’s next move

i Nov 11th No Comments by

Research led by Broad senior associate member Levi Garraway and published this week in Nature offers a new approach to studying drug resistance in cancer. The approach helped them identify which biological pathways could be enabling melanoma to circumvent available anti-cancer treatments. Targeting the output of these pathways for treatment could potentially hinder the course of this often-fatal disease.

The researchers initiated the study to address a vexing clinical problem: on the rare occasions that drug treatments are found that effectively inhibit tumor growth, that success is often short-lived. As resistance mechanisms emerge, the therapies cease being effective and the tumors return.

Such is the case in melanoma. Roughly 50% of these cancers have been traced to a mutation in BRAF, a gene responsible for directing cell growth. Only a few years ago, drugs were developed that disrupt parts of the biological pathway that leads the mutation to spur unchecked growth in skin cells. Patients who have received the treatment have seen their tumors disappear – only to return an average of nine months later. Garraway’s team, which includes researchers from the Broad Institute and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, wanted to find out in a comprehensive fashion what mechanisms might be involved in the development of drug resistance in these cases.

Read the full article at MedicalXpress.com.

3-2-1 Ride event raises $32,700 for The Woiner Foundation

i Nov 2nd No Comments by

The Woiner Foundation is excited to announce that its inaugural 3-2-1 Ride event raised $32,700 and was attended by 405 cyclists!

“We are so grateful for the generosity of our sponsors and donors, and for the dedication of our riders,” said 3-2-1 Ride event director Jessica Fera.  “We are overwhelmed by the support we received in our first year and are so excited for the future.”

Proceeds from the 3-2-1 Ride will be divided between the Melanoma Center at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, under the director of Dr. John Kirkwood, the Alliance of Families Fighting Pancreatic Cancer, and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

View Event Photos

Learn more about the 3-2-1 Ride by visiting 321Ride.org.