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Masonic Cancer Center announces fall internal grant awards

The Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota recently announced the awarding of $600,000 in pilot grants through its Fall Internal Grant Program. Support for these grants is made available by the center through a variety of funding sources, including the National Cancer Institute, Minnesota Masonic Charities, and the Lyle and Gretchen Shaw Cancer Research Fund.

The purpose of this program is to promote innovation, spark research collaborations, and support novel research concepts with the goal of answering the toughest cancer research questions. The goal of the program is to fund pilot projects that lead to nationally peer-reviewed grant funding.

The Catchment Community Pilot is a new, strategic funding opportunity offered to cancer researchers at the University of Minnesota. These pilot awards support community-engaged, collaborative research projects that are focused on cancer issues most important to Minnesotans. Projects were selected based on the strength of their community partnership(s), focus on reducing cancer burden, and impact on cancer disparities.

Please join us in thanking the Masonic Cancer Center’s support partners and congratulating this year’s award recipients.

Pre-R01 Brainstorm Awards

Targeting Gliomas with Chemically Self-Assembled Nanoring T-cell Engagers (CSAN-TE) 
Carston (Rick) Wagner, PhD, David Largaespada, PhD, Clark Chen, MD, PhD
Award Amount: $100,000

Roles of tumor-microenvironment Lyn kinase in breast-cancer metastasis and immunotherapy
Tanya Freedman, PhD, Kaylee Schwertfeger, PhD
Award Amount: $100,000 

Cancer Research Translational Initiative (CRTI) Exceptional Translational Research Awards

RET Degraders for Treating Neuroendocrine Prostate Cancer
Justin Drake, PhD, Dan Harki, PhD
Award Amount: $100,000 

Engineered T cell therapy for poor prognosis cancers
Ingunn Stromnes, PhD, Jeff Miller, MD, Edward Greeno, MD
Award Amount: $100,000

Masonic Cancer Center Catchment Community Pilot Awards

Eliciting sun behavior beliefs to inform messaging and intervention development for skin cancer prevention in rural Minnesota
Research Team: Rachel Vogel, PhD, Marco Yzer, PhD, Rebekah Nagler, PhD, DeAnn Lazovich, MPH, PhD, Carrie Henning-Smith, MSW, MPH, PhD, Rehana Ahmed, MD, PhD
Community Partner: Pamela Mason, American Cancer Society 
Award Amount: $100,000

Cooked Meat and Prostate Cancer Risk
Research Team: Robert Turesky, PhD, Logan Spector, PhD
Community Partner: Robert Clarence Jones, MEd, CPH, CHW, CPE, Hue-MAN Organization 
Award Amount: $50,000 

Breast Cancer Gaps Project: Uncovering Differential Access to Care Along the Breast Cancer Care Continuum
Research Team: David Haynes, PhD, Beth Virnig, MPH, PhD
Community Partner: Kris Newcomer, Breast Cancer Gaps Project 
Award Amount: $50,000

About the Masonic Cancer Center

The Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, is the Twin Cities’ only Comprehensive Cancer Center, designated ‘Outstanding’ by the National Cancer Institute. As Minnesota’s Cancer Center, we have served the entire state for more than 25 years. Our researchers, educators, and care providers have worked to discover the causes, prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer and cancer-related diseases. Learn more at