Devanand Sarkar credits the endowment set up by the Harrison Foundation for some of his laboratory’s recent achievements.
The Foundation created the Harrison Scholars program to support promising cancer researchers. As one of its beneficiaries, Sarkar had funding on hand to complete small-scale studies whose preliminary findings positioned him to successfully compete for a grant from the Dana Foundation. The three-year grant totaling $200,000 will allow Sarkar to develop a gene therapy strategy to effectively target malignant gliomas. As the field searches for ways to improve treatment for these brain tumors, Sarkar’s team will examine a new approach that combines gene therapy and immunotherapy in a single agent.
In addition, Sarkar says, “support from the Harrison family has helped in performing important but expensive experiments, like microarrays, that have revealed novel molecules important in liver cancer’s development.” These studies have resulted in several high-quality papers, including one earlier this year in the Journal of Clinical Investigation that identified a gene that plays a key role in regulating liver cancer progression. There is currently no effective treatment
for liver cancer, but “we now have several novel molecules and pathways that might be targeted to effectively treat it,” says Sarkar.