The 2020 Brian D. Novis Grant Awards Reception

Cynthia Chmielewski |
Cindy Chmielewski on ASH background

Fundraising is one way to be an advocate and pay it forward. Although fundraising is not easy, it is empowering to be part of the potential cure. You become a valued partner in research. 

For the last 12 years the Philadelphia Multiple Myeloma Networking Group (PMMNG) has held a 5K, entitled Miles for Myeloma, to raise money for myeloma research. I am proud to be a member of that group. By working together, we are able to host a successful event. As a group of dedicated myeloma patients and care partners, we have been able to fund 13 research grants. Last year, our Miles for Myeloma 5K raised enough funds to sponsor 2 Brian D. Novis Grants valued at $50,000 each.

Members of the Philadelphia Multiple Myeloma Networking Group at their annual 5K, “Miles for Myeloma”

High-dose melphalan (HDM) is a widely used, first-line chemotherapeutic agent given to young patients with multiple myeloma (MM). Exposure to HDM has been associated with a higher risk of therapy-related myeloid cancers that often have poor clinical outcomes. We recently described how HDM triggers mutations by looking at the entire genome of patients with MM after HDM therapy. To reduce the risk of secondary myeloid malignancies by identifying efficient prevention and screening strategies, we will investigate the genomic impact of HDM on the initiation and progression of pre-leukemic clonal entities (i.e., CHIP) in patients with multiple myeloma following HDM therapy.

The first grant went to Francesco Maura, MD, from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute in New York. Here is a lay abstract of his research proposal.

Cancer cell dormancy is a process where the cells cease dividing but survive in a quiescent state. These dormant cancer cells are often untreatable due to drug resistance and are considered aa a main reason for relapse in multiple myeloma. Previously, we identified AXL as a potential key regulator in cell dormancy.  In this project we aim to reactivate AXL- expressing cells hence making them more susceptible to chemotherapy. By the use of AXL blocking compounds in combination with chemotherapy, we wish to eradicate residual myeloma cells.

Kim De Veirman, PhD from Vrije Universiteit in Brussels, Belgium also received a grant funded by the PMMNG. Dr. De Veirman’s research is focusing on dormant myeloma cells.  Here is the lay abstract of her project.

I was honored to talk to each of these researchers and then present to them their awards. Both Drs. Maura and De Veirman took time to explain their proposals to me. They were excited about what they planned to do which left me hopeful. I am eagerly awaiting updates from their labs. It is important to be able to fund early career researchers to keep these researchers engaged and in a field where funding is scarce.

Not everyone has the capability to host a 5K, but everyone in some way can help sponsor a research grant. A collective effort also sponsors research. Host a grassroots event. Hold a bake sale, a flea market, or any event that may spark your interest. Suzanne at the IMF will be more than happy to assist with the planning. Funding is necessary for research to occur.  Research saves lives. 

Other grant recipients included….

Sylvie Hermouet, MD, PhD, from Nantes, France, who is exploring the functional characterization of monoclonal immunoglobulins from antigen driven MGUS and Myeloma. This grant was funded by Miracles for Myeloma

Mikhail Nikiforov, PhD, from Wake Forest in North Carolina, who is leveraging polyamine dependency for treatment of drug resistant multiple myeloma.

Alexandre Detappe, PhD, from Strasbourg, France, who is investigating a click-ready Cereblon E3 ligase modulation drug library for fast in vivo evaluation in multiple myeloma mouse models.

by Cindy Chmielewski


One Response to "The 2020 Brian D. Novis Grant Awards Reception"
  1. Marilyn Alexander says:

    Great job Cindy of keeping all of us back home in the loop of what is happening. Keep up the good work and look forward to hearing more interesting work being done to help MM.

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