National Cancer Institute (NIH-NCI) Funding

The Division of Hematology/Oncology has maintained a strong commitment to research. This investment has been rewarded with success in receiving both grant funding and clinical research opportunities.

Our faculty have recently received the following high-profile grants and awards from the National Cancer Institute (NCI):

P30 NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center. Under the leadership of Dr. Nancy Davidson, Center Director, Dr. Edward Chu, Deputy Director, and Dr. Adam Brufsky, Associate Director of Clinical Science, the UPCI is one of 69 NCI-designated cancer centers and one of only 45 comprehensive cancer centers in the U.S. Of note, UPCI is the only NCI-designated cancer center in Western Pennsylvania. These Cancer Centers of Excellence are recognized by the NCI for their scientific leadership, resources, and the depth and breadth of cancer research in basic, clinical, and/or population science. A large number of Division faculty play important roles in this P30 grant, including:

  • Michael Boyiadzis, MD – Director, UPCI Clinical Translational Research Center
  • James Lee, MD, PhD – Director, Early-Phase Clinical Research
  • Lisa Butterfield, PhD – Director, UPCI Immune Monitoring Cell Processing Laboratory
  • John Schmitz, PhD – Co-Director, UPCI Clinical Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics Laboratory
  • James Herman, MD – Co-Leader, UPCI Lung Cancer Program
  • John Kirkwood, MD and Hassane Zarour – Co-Leaders, UPCI Melanoma Program
  • Edward Chu, MD – Co-Leader, UPCI Cancer Therapeutics Program
  • Adam Brufsky, MD, PhD – Medical Director, UPCI Clinical Protocol and Data Management
  • Len Appleman, MD, PhD – Medical Director, UPCI Protocol Review and Monitoring System

P50 NCI Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPOREs). The NCI Translational Research Program is the home of the SPOREs, which together form the cornerstone of NCI’s efforts to promote collaborative, interdisciplinary translational cancer research. SPORE grants involve both basic and clinical/translational science, and the goal of the projects is to develop new and diverse approaches to the prevention, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of human cancers. Each SPORE grant focuses on a specific organ site or a group of highly related cancers, and the awards are designed to enable the rapid and efficient movement of basic science findings into clinical settings. Our Division is actively involved in three of the NCI SPOREs:

  • P50 SPORE in Lung Cancer – Dr. James Herman is the PI of this SPORE grant, with involvement by Dr. Tim Burns and Dr. Liza Villaruz
  • P50 SPORE in Head and Neck Cancer – Dr. Julie Bauman is the Co-PI of this SPORE grant and leads one of the main projects
  • P50 SPORE in Melanoma and Skin Cancer – Dr. John Kirkwood serves as PI and Dr. Hassane Zarour Co-PI for this SPORE. Other Division members involved in this effort include Dr. Ahmad Tarhini and Dr. Lisa Butterfield.

NCI-ETCTN UM1 Phase I Program. For more than 40 years, NCI has supported a clinical trials infrastructure program to conduct early-phase clinical trials across the US. In 2013, the NCI’s experimental therapeutics clinical trials program was transformed from a series of separate institutions conducting early phase clinical trials to a consolidated, integrated program referred to as the NCI Experimental Therapeutics Clinical Trials Network (ETCTN). UPCI has been involved in the NCI Phase I Early Drug Development Program since 1999. In March 2013, UPCI was awarded an NCI UM1 Phase I grant as a Lead Academic Organization (LAO) within the newly configured NCI ETCTN. Of note, our Phase I program here in Pittsburgh is one of only 12 LAO centers in the U.S. and the only one in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This Phase I grant is under the leadership of Dr. Edward Chu, with several additional Division faculty participants:

  • Dr. Michael Boyiadzis
  • Dr. Kathy Dorritie
  • Dr. James Lee
  • Dr. Len Appleman
  • Dr. Rahul Parikh
  • Dr. Liza Villaruz
  • Dr. Weijing Sun
  • Dr. John Schmitz
  • Dr. Lisa Butterfield

NCI-ETCTN Phase II Program. We are only one of nine centers in the nation awarded an NCI grant to support the conduct of Phase II clinical trials. For this effort, UPCI has formed a partnership with the Abramson Cancer Center (ACC) at the University of Pennsylvania to establish the Pennsylvania Cancer Consortium (PCC), a collaboration between the two largest NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The goal of this award is to conduct Phase II clinical trials of novel agents and/or combination regimens while incorporating translational correlative science. Dr. Weijing Sun serves as the PI of the Phase II Team Operations and leader of the UPCI Phase II program and Dr. Ahmad Tarhini, the Director of Clinical Science. The Phase II clinical trials will be conducted in solid tumors and hematologic malignancies. Several Division members serve on the disease site leadership team for this consortium, including:

  • Dr. Shannon Puhalla (breast)
  • Dr. Julie Bauman (head and neck)
  • Dr. Liza Villaruz (lung)
  • Dr. Weijing Sun (GI)
  • Dr. Len Appleman (GU)
  • Dr. Michael Boyiadzis (hematologic malignancies)

NCI-NCTN Clinical Research Program. UPCI is one of 30 U.S. academic institutions that have been selected to receive a Lead Academic Participating Site (LAPS) grant, a source of funding created especially for the NCI National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN). The goal of this grant is to enroll high numbers of patients into Phase III NCTN clinical trials, as well as for Centers to provide scientific leadership in the design and conduct of clinical trials. Dr. Adam Brufsky serves as the PI of this NCI grant, and is joined by several Division faculty members, including:

  • Drs. Shannon Puhalla and Priya Rastogi (breast)
  • Dr. Liza Villaruz (lung)
  • Drs. Weijing Sun and Nathan Bahary (GI)
  • Dr. Len Appleman (GU)
  • Dr. Michael Boyiadzis (hematologic malignancies)
  • Drs. John Kirkwood and Ahmad Tarhini (melanoma)

Contact Us

Division of Hematology/Oncology
Administrative/Academic Offices

UPMC Cancer Pavilion
5150 Centre Avenue, 5th floor
Pittsburgh, PA  15232
412-648-6575 | Email Us

Hillman Cancer Center

Outpatient Services
5115 Centre Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15232