Ohio State awarded $11.3 million for thyroid cancer research

February 1, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) has been awarded a five-year, $11.3 million Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to study and treat thyroid cancer.

SPORE grants focus on clinical/translational science and support projects expected to result in new and diverse approaches to prevention, early detection and treatment of cancer relatively quickly. This is the third SPORE awarded by the NCI to the OSUCCC – James and the first to be awarded for the study of thyroid cancer. Only 20 academic institutions hold SPOREs across the United States.

The award follows the NCI’s renewal of a five-year, $11.2 million Program Project Grant to fund thyroid cancer research.

The new SPORE grant is led by principal investigator Matthew D. Ringel, MD, and supports four distinct research projects—three based at Ohio State, one at MD Anderson—as well as shared research cores, a career development program and a pilot research grant initiative. The four research projects address critical knowledge gaps in thyroid cancer care and complement projects supported by the thyroid cancer Program Project Grant, also led by Ringel.

“Thyroid cancer incidence rates are rising faster than all cancers in the United States, making it the fifth most common malignancy in women and 11th most common in men,” says Ringel, co-director of the thyroid cancer unit at The OSUCCC – James, director of the division of endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism at Ohio State, and member of the Molecular Biology and Cancer Genetics Program. “Thyroid cancers are often slow growing and silent, so the population of long-term survivors is quite large. Determining predisposing factors for thyroid cancer, reducing side-effects of treatments, and developing better treatments and biomarkers for those patients with aggressive tumors are all challenges in the treatment of this disease. We are honored and excited to have such tremendous support from the NCI to bolster our knowledge of the molecular mechanisms that underlie thyroid cancer and to develop more effective strategies for treating the disease.”

The OSUCCC – James/MD Anderson thyroid SPORE grant’s four projects include:

A study that looks at genes that predispose people to papillary cancer. The goal is to develop a panel of gene changes that predict the risk of developing thyroid cancer in individual patients. The study is co-led by Albert de la Chapelle, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and the Leonard J. Immke Jr. and Charlotte L. Immke Chair in Cancer Research, and Rebecca Nagy, MS,CGC, associate professor of medicine in Ohio State’s division of human genetics.

A study that attempts to identify biomarkers of damage to salivary glands and develop novel therapies to protect the salivary glands from radioiodine used to treat thyroid cancer. The study is co-led by Sissy Jhiang, PhD, professor in the department of physiology and cell biology, and Ricardo Carrau, MD, professor in the department of otolaryngology – head and neck surgery.

A study that focuses on devising effective second-line treatments for patient with progressive medullary thyroid cancer and develops tumor-based biomarkers for this form of thyroid cancer. The study is co-led by Ringel and Manisha Shah, MD, professor of medicine in the division of medical oncology.

A study to investigate novel blood-based biomarkers to predict prognosis and response to therapy patients with medullary thyroid cancer. This study is co-led by Steven Sherman, MD, chair and professor of endocrinology neoplasia and hormonal disorders and Gilbert Cote, PhD, professor of endocrine neoplasia and hormonal disorders at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 60,000 people are diagnosed with thyroid cancer annually in the United States and nearly 535,000 are currently living with the disease.

To learn more about thyroid cancer research and patient care at The OSUCCC-James, visit