Project Awarded Funding: Targeted Molecular Therapeutics for Head and Neck Cancer
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Flordeliza S. Villanueva, MD, professor of medicine, director, Non‐Invasive Cardiac Imaging, and director, Center for Ultrasound Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics, is one of four investigators who are the first to receive awards from a fund established by the University of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), and Johnson & Johnson Corporate Office of Science and Technology (COSAT) to support promising translational research. Dr. Villanueva’s project focuses on the development of targeted molecular therapeutics for head and neck cancer using microbubble vectors and ultrasound.
The projects all arose from research and intellectual property developed at Pitt; involve new therapeutics such as small molecules, biologics or vaccines, or new platform technologies that can form the foundation for supporting the ongoing development of such therapeutics; and have high scientific merit and potential for great impact.
Awards have been also granted to:
- Edward Prochownik, MD, Paul C. Gaffney Professor of Pediatrics and professor of microbiology and molecular genetics for therapeutic targeting of the c-Myc oncoprotein to find new cancer drugs
- Thomas E. Smithgall, PhD, professor and chair of microbiology and molecular genetics, to evaluate HIV‐1 Nef antagonists in a mouse model of AIDS
- Zhou Wang, PhD, professor and director of urological research, Department of Urology, to develop small molecules targeting androgen receptor nuclear localization and function in castration‐resistant prostate cancer
The University of Pittsburgh scientific community responded to this funding opportunity by submitting nearly 60 letters of intent. A project selection committee composed of members of the University of Pittsburgh, UPMC, and Johnson & Johnson COSAT invited 11 of the 60 applicants to submit full applications.
A pharmaceutical collaboration committee led by D. Lansing Taylor, PhD, director of the University of Pittsburgh Drug Discovery Institute and Allegheny Foundation Professor of Computational and Systems Biology, and composed of faculty from the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and the schools of Medicine and Pharmacy, as well as staff from the university’s Office of Technology Management and UPMC, has been established to guide Pitt and UPMC’s efforts to work more closely with large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.