GSDM, BUSM Researchers Receive NIDCR R01 Grant

Researchers at the Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine and the School of Medicine have received a five-year, $3.2 million National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) R01 grant. This grant will fund research into the role of b-catenin/CBP signaling in the epigenetic regulation of cellular plasticity in head and neck cancer progression.

The project is led by the Multiple Principal Investigator team comprised of Drs. Maria Kukuruzinska (contact PI, Translational Dental Medicine, GSDM), Stefano Monti (Computational Biomedicine, BUSM), and Xaralabos Varelas (Biochemistry, BUSM). Other investigators on the project include Drs. Manish Bais (Translational Dental Medicine, GSDM), Vikki Noonan (Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology, GSDM), Andrew Salama (Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, GSDM), Catherine Costello (Biochemistry, BUSM), and Dennis Jones (Pathology, BUSM).

Head and neck cancer and its major subsite, oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), rank among the most deadly disfiguring cancers due to the lack of early detection and limited treatments. Previous findings by this collaborative, multidisciplinary team have shown that b-catenin/CBP nuclear activity is an important contributor to OSCC progression to malignant disease in human patients, and that targeting this axis is likely to intercept tumor progression and reverse aggressive features. This project addresses an important gap in knowledge of OSCC pathobiology and aims to provide a basis for the development of new therapies.

This project grew out of the Affinity Research Collaborative (ARC) on Etiology and Pathogenesis of Oral Cancer, directed by Drs. Maria Kukuruzinska, Avrum Spira (Computational Biomedicine, BUSM), and Maria Trojanowska (Rheumatology/Arthritis, BUSM). The ARC program, established by Dr. Katya Ravid (Medicine, BUSM), provided the EPOC ARC with seed funding from both GSDM and the Evans Center for Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research.