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HOUSTON – September 17, 2020 – The Kidney Cancer Association (KCA) presented two Advanced Discovery Awards and four Young Investigator Awards – a total of $1.3 million in funding – to researchers from around the world who are working to advance early detection of and discover new treatments for kidney cancer.

“We’re incredibly excited to support this year’s awardees. For thirty years, the KCA has been supporting scientific advancements through research and it’s an honor to be part of the work of so many incredible researchers,” said Gretchen E. Vaughan, President and CEO of the KCA. “As we look back on our 30-year history as an organization, the patients and caregivers continue to be the focus of all we do. The outcomes from these research opportunities are what lead to life-changing breakthroughs in treatments, in care practices, and, looking to the future, in the hope for curative therapies.”

Introduced in 2019, the Advanced Discovery Awards promote collaboration between established clinicians and basic scientists on new research that will make an immediate impact in kidney cancer. The KCA grants two awards of $500,000 each. Young Investigator Awards encourage promising researchers in urology and clinical oncology who are planning to pursue an investigative career in kidney cancer and the KCA grants four awards of $75,000 each.

This year the KCA received 31 submissions – 26 ADAs and 25 YIAs – which was double the number of submissions from 2019. Winning research topics ranged from investigating new targets for therapy and drug-repurposing strategies to precision medicine and biomarker initiatives.

“We were thrilled by the number and caliber of project submissions this year,” said Dr. Jose Karam, Chair of the KCA’s Grant Review Panel and a urologic oncologist at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. “It shows that kidney cancer is a rich area of study yielding fascinating discoveries that also have the potential to make a positive difference in the lives of people with kidney cancer.”

“Supporting research is integral to achieving our vision to be a leader in finding a cure for kidney cancer,” said Dr. Christopher G. Wood, Chair of the KCA’s Board of Directors and a surgeon and professor at MD Anderson. “We are excited by the winning research projects and hope to see these researchers’ efforts come to fruition so we can all learn more about how to manage this disease.”

Advanced Discovery Award (ADA) Recipients:

Heather Christofk, PhD – University of California, Los Angeles

Brian Shuch, MD – University of California, Los Angeles

Research project: Targeting asparagine dependence in renal cell cancer

Haifeng Yang, PhD – Thomas Jefferson University

William Kim, MD – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Research project: Investigating the anti-tumor efficacy of a STING agonist on PBRM1-deficient ccRCC tumors

Young Investigator Award (YIA) Recipients:

Chiara Di Malta, PhD – Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine, Pozzuoli, Italy

Andrea Ballabio, MD (Mentor) – Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine, Pozzuoli, Italy

Research project: Exploiting the potential of MiT/TFE factors inhibition to treat inherited kidney cancers

Brandon Manley, MD – H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Inc.

John Koomen, PhD (Mentor) – H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Inc.

Research project: Investigation of the Aberrant Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Splicing Proteome to Determine Drug Repurposing Strategies for ccRCC

Frank M. Mason, PhD – Vanderbilt University Medical Center

W. Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD (Mentor) – Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Research project: Therapeutic Vulnerability of SETD2 mutant RCC

Ritesh R. Kotecha, MD – Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Robert J. Motzer, MD (Mentor) – Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Research project: HLA Evolutionary Diversity – A Population Specific Biomarker for Kidney Cancer Immunotherapy


About the Kidney Cancer Association

The Kidney Cancer Association is a global community dedicated to serving and empowering patients and caregivers, and leading change through advocacy, research, and education in order to be the universal leader in finding the cure for kidney cancer. Founded in 1990 by Eugene P. Schonfeld and a small group of patients and doctors in Chicago, Illinois, the KCA has grown into an international non-profit organization based in Houston, Texas. The KCA promotes scientific advances through two annual research symposiums and a robust grant program, participates in legislative advocacy, and seeks to be a source of education and resources for patients, caregivers, and anyone impacted by kidney cancer.

Media Contact:

Radha Chitale

Director of Communications

847.332.1051 ext. 113 | [email protected]