VARI scientist wins $250K grant

VARI scientist wins $250K grant

Patrick Grohar. Courtesy Van Andel Research Institute

A Van Andel Research Institute scientist has been awarded a $250,000 grant from a national nonprofit dedicated to battling childhood cancer.

VARI researcher Patrick Grohar was one of 19 recipients for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation’s 2017 Innovation Grants.

The $250,000 grant will be paid out over two years and used to fund Grohar’s research into Ewing’s sarcoma.

“The Innovation Grant encourages experienced researchers in the field to push for breakthroughs in childhood cancers, ultimately leading to new clinical interventions,” said Jay Scott, co-executive director, ALSF. “Each year, the recipients continue to show great promise moving us toward desperately needed cures, with important findings along the way.”

Grohar is the lead investigator of VARI’s Grohar Laboratory, focused on developing therapies for pediatric sarcomas, particularly Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of children’s cancer that often begins in the legs, pelvic bone or arms.

He and his team are developing several approaches to better identify and improve therapies for treating Ewing’s, including drug screening, siRNA screening, mechanism-driven molecular pharmacology, genomics and chemical analog-based compound optimization.

The ALSF grant is earmarked to fund Grohar’s research into mithramycin as an inhibitor of Ewing’s fusion gene. Upcoming work on the antibiotic’s impact includes characterizing the suppression mechanism, identifying second-generation mithramycin analogs and developing pharmacodynamic markers of suppression to implement in patients.

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