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The Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network Invests $500,000 to Support Research

BETHESDA, MD., June 9, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) announces a $500,000 investment in research for 2015 demonstrating the organization's commitment to a bladder cancer cure. The awards fund projects designed to produce breakthroughs in the management and treatment of bladder cancer. The Young Investigator Award recipients will each receive a two-year grant, totaling $100,000. The Bladder Cancer Research Innovation Award recipient will receive a two-year grant totaling $300,000.

The Bladder Cancer Research Innovation Award supports the scientific work of an experienced investigator who will break new ground in the field of bladder cancer. The Young Investigator Award inspires young researchers to join the bladder cancer field. The award funds research in basic, translational, clinical, epidemiologic, bioengineering or any other scientific field, in an environment capable of supporting transformational bladder cancer research.

There are more than 500,000 people living with bladder cancer in the United States and nearly 16,000 deaths annually. Awareness of the disease and research funding are woefully low. There have been no major treatment advances in the disease in nearly 30 years. "The quality of care for those impacted by bladder cancer must be improved," stated Diane Zipursky Quale, President and Co-Founder. "We know these research programs are a catalyst for scientific discoveries and innovation that will ultimately save lives."

The 2015 James Family Foundation and Partner Fund Management Bladder Cancer Research Innovation Award is presented to Cory Abate-Shen, Ph.D, for her proposal "Epigenetic regulation of bladder cancer progression." Dr. Abate-Shen is Professor of Urological Oncology at Columbia University Medical Center and Associate Director of Translational Research at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is considered a leader in developing mouse models for cancer research.

A major challenge in bladder cancer has been to understand the molecular causes of the disease and to develop new approaches to the treatment of specific disease subtypes. Dr. Abate-Shen's research is based on the hypothesis that muscle-invasive bladder cancer is driven, at least in part, by changes in the epigenetic program (structural changes in DNA), and that alteration of this program may provide new therapeutic approaches. The experiments proposed will use innovative experimental approaches with mouse models as well as three-dimensional cultures of "organoids" of bladder cancer to systematically evaluate the functional roles of epigenetic regulators that are frequently altered in bladder cancer and will evaluate their suitability as targets for treatment. This research project is a collaborative effort among a team of investigators from Columbia University Medical Center and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

The Miriam Gleberman Young Investigator Award will support Philip Palmbos, M.D., Ph.D., Clinical Lecturer, University of Michigan, for his project "The Role of TP63 and ATDC in Invasive Bladder Cancers." Dr. Palmbos will continue his work focusing on a novel oncogene that drives bladder cancer cells to metastasize as well as to become resistant to treatment. This work is directed at the improved characterization of the mechanisms underlying this invasion to identify pathways that may be targeted to prevent bladder cancer growth and progression.

The Stephen Hale Gushée Young Investigator Award will further the work of Rahul Parikh, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh, for his project "The Role of ATM Loss and the ATR-CHK1 Pathway in Bladder Cancer." Dr. Parikh has previously identified a genetic abnormality that may cause some bladder cancer cells to survive radiation treatment and chemotherapy, which should otherwise kill them. His current study will examine the role of this genetic change in the development of resistance to existing radiation and chemotherapies used in the treatment of bladder cancer.

For more information about BCAN, The Bladder Cancer Research Innovation Award or The Young Investigator Award, or go to www.bcan.org or call 1-888-901-BCAN.

About the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network

The Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network's (BCAN) mission is to increase public awareness about bladder cancer, advance bladder cancer research, and provide educational and support services for the bladder cancer community.

BCAN serves as the leading voice for bladder cancer in the U.S., providing resources to not only those diagnosed with the disease but their families, caregivers and the medical community united in support of people touched by the disease. The organization is setting the agenda for bladder cancer by promoting and funding collaborative and cutting-edge research programs and providing critical patient support and education services. Each year, it provides thousands of patients, caregivers and the medical community with the educational resources and support services they need to navigate their bladder cancer journey. BCAN works collaboratively with the medical and research professionals who are dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of bladder cancer and empowers the patient community by allowing them to share experiences with others, and to participate in building awareness of the need for a cure.

CONTACT: Monica Smith 301-215-9099 ext. 201 info@bcan.orgSource: Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network