Office of Institutional Advancement

Jefferson Receives $100,000 Grant for Pancreatic Cancer Research

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A $100,000 grant from Gail Coleman of Alexandria, Va., is supporting pancreatic cancer research conducted by Jordan M. Winter, MD, associate professor of surgery, and Jonathan R. Brody, PhD, Jefferson’s director of the Division of Surgical Research. 

Gail recommended the grant through her donor-advised charitable fund to support research into one of the deadliest cancers and to honor the memory of her husband, Ken Bruntel, who died from the disease in 2009 at the age of 60. Gail also lost her mother in 1989 and father in 2002 to pancreatic cancer. 

Gail evaluated numerous nationwide cancer programs and had several meetings with the Jefferson team before recommending the grant for these projects. She says she values the close “connection to the projects and direct relationships with the doctors.”

“It is important to me to support translational research into treatment of advanced pancreatic cancer, especially innovative work that would otherwise go unfunded,” Gail says. 

Brody and Winter are studying HuR, a protein that is important in regulating metabolism in pancreatic cancer cells. Winter explains, “This experiment is the first time anyone has examined how HuR affects metabolic pathways. It’s also the deepest exploration into how RNA biology plays a role in cancer cell metabolism.”

Jefferson researchers are also trying to understand the mechanisms of chemotherapy resistance in pancreatic cancer at the genetic level.

“This is something that no one has studied,” notes Winter. “We believe at the time of chemo, mutations occur that are selected by the pancreatic cancer cells and that result in resistance to the drugs.” 

Winter is quick to note this is a pilot study made possible solely through the grant. It’s already serving as a springboard for further funding — and will likely be the first in a series of studies into chemotherapy resistance.