A Healthier Wisconsin

Pancreatic Cancer Research Program

Establishing an integrated clinical and translational pancreatic cancer research program at the Medical College of Wisconsin

Full Project Name:Pancreatic Cancer Research ProgramPrincipal Investigator:Douglas Evans, MD, SurgeryAward Amount:825,043
Award Date
Project Duration:60 months

Project Description Narrative:

Pancreatic cancer is currently the fourth leading cause of adult cancer death and its incidence is rising, with pancreatic cancer expected to become the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States by the year 2020. In contrast to breast, prostate, lung, and colorectal cancers, there are no screening mechanisms for pancreatic cancer, and when it is detected, many patients are incurable. The overwhelming majority of patients with this disease do not have an associated risk factor or family predisposition. Therefore, there is no indication that lifestyle modification will make a significant impact on the incidence of this disease, and families with inherited predisposition are exceedingly rare. To make an impact on the death rate, the development of more effective therapies or a technique for early diagnosis are needed.

Through this award, the Medical College of Wisconsin will establish a Pancreatic Cancer Research Program and aim to launch a novel clinical trial of personalized therapy for patients with Stage I and II pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:

  • Established the Pancreatic Cancer Research Program and began creation of a novel clinical trial of personalized therapy for patients with localized pancreatic cancer

  • Established the infrastructure to obtain and profile pancreatic cancer tissues in a non-invasive manner for molecular profiling

  • Designed and implemented a clinical trial utilizing the molecular profiling techniques to guide the selection of chemotherapy for patients with localized pancreatic cancer, becoming the first trial opened in the United States which used a personalized approach for localized pancreatic cancer. Began accrual of subjects into the clinical trial and added the University of Cincinnati as a second site

  • Initiated a collaboration to examine the use of cell-free DNA as a biomarker for treatment response

  • Supported work by Dr. Susan Tsai to establish a pancreatic xenograft model for tumor expansion which has subsequently generated over 20 novel pancreatic cancer cell lines, establish a Rapid Autopsy Program for pancreatic cancer, and establish a screening clinic for high-risk familial pancreatic cancer patients

  • Disseminated findings through various publications and presentations

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