Skip to main content

IU cancer center receives American Cancer Society funding for research, education programs

Poster session for 2022 summer programs

Poster session for 2022 summer programs

IU chosen as an inaugural site for post-baccalaureate diversity program aimed at preparing the next generation of cancer researchers and physicians

INDIANAPOLIS—As part of a longstanding partnership, the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center has received new and renewed funding from the American Cancer Society to support research and education programs.

IU cancer researchers are currently receiving more than $6 million in multi-year ACS funding across the Indianapolis and Bloomington campuses.

New this year, the cancer center received a $660,000 grant as one of only eight inaugural sites for the American Cancer Society Post-Baccalaureate Diversity in Cancer Research Education Program. The two-year cancer research experience is designed for students of underrepresented background or disadvantaged populations who have recently been awarded their bachelor’s degree and intend to pursue clinical or research careers in cancer.

The program prepares participants for competitive MD and PhD programs through hands-on research experiences and includes a $37,565 yearly stipend, a housing stipend and health insurance during the two-year program. Applications are now being accepted.

“The IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center is fully committed to increasing the diversity of our students and faculty. This will result in more diverse cancer researchers and clinicians to drive future cancer treatments and discoveries,” said Mark Kelley, the Betty and Earl Herr Professor of Pediatric Oncology Research at IU School of Medicine and the associate director of basic science research at the cancer center. Kelley serves as the lead cancer center faculty directing the grant.

The ACS also has renewed the cancer center’s ACS Institutional Research Grant (IRG) to provide pilot project funding to assist early-career cancer investigators, giving them the opportunity to establish their research program and explore innovative ideas. The IRG has been continuously funded by the ACS since 1986 and will provide $360,000 over the next three years.

The Institutional Research Grant has been continuously funded by the ACS for 37 years

“We are delighted by the ACS’s continued support of IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center cancer research, training and mentorship afforded by the IRG grant, which is in its 37th year of continuous funding. ACS has been, and continues to be, a great partner in our efforts, including increasing diversity within our center,” Kelley said.

Now in its second year at the cancer center, the ACS also provides funding for an education program designed to build the pipeline for diversity in cancer research.

The Diversity in Cancer Research (DICR) internship program aims to increase the number of undergraduate students from underrepresented populations pursuing clinical and research careers in cancer. It is supported via a supplement to the ACS IRG, and directed at the cancer center by Tim Corson, PhD, and Shannon Hawkins, PhD. The IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center was one of only 12 universities to implement this American Cancer Society internship program last year, which is funded through 2024.

“We look forward to providing students a world-class experience thanks to continued funding from the American Cancer Society,” said Harikrishna Nakshatri, PhD, the Marian J. Morrison Professor of Breast Cancer Research at IU School of Medicine and the associate director of education at the cancer center. “Through this impactful summer program, we are helping to build the next generation of cancer researchers.”

Additionally, six investigators are funded with $4.7 million in multi-year Research Scholar Grants (RSG), which support independent, self-directed researchers and clinician scientists. These grants are funding research in ovarian and breast cancers, DNA replication errors in cancer, among other topics.

Current RSG recipients are Lata Balakrishnan, PhDAnirban K. Mitra, PhD; Sumegha Mitra, PhD; Hengyao Niu, PhD; Jenifer Prosperi, PhD; and Chi Zhang, PhD.

About IU School of Medicine

IU School of Medicine is the largest medical school in the U.S. and is annually ranked among the top medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The school offers high-quality medical education, access to leading medical research and rich campus life in nine Indiana cities, including rural and urban locations consistently recognized for livability.