Pennsylvania Department of Health Presents Nearly $3.5 Million in Health Research Grants

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Department of Health Secretary Dr. Eli N. Avila today presented nearly $3.5 million in Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement Program, or CURE, grants to support four, two-year research projects focused on cancer treatment technologies.

The grant recipients are the Institute for Hepatitis and Virus Research, Thomas Jefferson University, UE LifeSciences, Inc., and The Wistar Institute.

The CURE program funds health research with the purpose of discovering new scientific knowledge to help improve the health of all Pennsylvanians.

These competitive grants focus on specific research priorities established and reviewed by the Department of Health in conjunction with the Health Research Advisory Committee, a panel made up of universities and research institutes.

The funds, allocated in the 2011-12 fiscal year, focus on projects that translate the information found within the human genome. The grants support research that commercializes and brings to market new, proven cancer diagnostics or therapeutics.

Twelve projects statewide are receiving CURE grant awards totaling $15.3 million. Since the grant program's inception, the Department of Health has awarded more than $750 million in CURE grants. 

"This is an exciting time in health research and we are confident this research will improve public health and help Pennsylvanians to live longer, healthier lives," said Dr. Avila.

More information about the CURE program is found at the Department of Health's website at

Media contact: Kait Gillis, 717-787-1783

Editor's Note: Below is an overview of the projects and awards:

Institute for Hepatitis and Virus Research: A New Inhibitor of the Akt/mTOR Pathway with Remarkable Potency and Selective Anti-Hepatocellular Carcinoma Activity ($909,170):

  • The project is developing a drug with higher efficacy, lower toxicity and fewer side effects against primary liver cancer; which is resistant to chemotherapy, has few therapeutic options and is usually fatal. Upon project completion, novel compounds will be ready for FDA-sanctioned studies that would lead to an investigational new drug application.  

Thomas Jefferson University: Occult Tumor Burden as a Marker Stratifying Therapy to Eliminate Racial Disparities in Colon Cancer ($744,156):

  • The project is developing clinical evidence needed in the commercialization of a molecular test identifying colon cancer patients at risk of developing recurrent disease and who will benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy.

UE LifeSciences, Inc.: Commercial Prototype Development and Clinical Validation of Low-Cost Hand-Held Breast Scanner ($878,244):

  • The purpose of this project is to further develop and clinically validate a low-cost, easy-to-use mobile medical technology that can noninvasively detect and classify a breast tumor by measuring its mechanical properties in-vivo.

The Wistar Institute: Diagnostic Markers for Early-stage Lung Cancer in PAXgene Blood Samples ($991,900)

  • The project will verify the hypothesis that tumor-specific signatures induced by lung cancer are present in the peripheral blood and can be identified by global gene expression analyses. The project will lead to the development of a prototype blood test for the early detection of lung cancer.


SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health