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The Kidney Cancer Association (KCA) presented two Advanced Discovery Awards, four Young Investigator Awards, and one Focus Award: Psychosocial to researchers who are working to uncover and refine treatment and care strategies for kidney cancer. The awards represent a total of $1.375 million in funding.

“We’re thrilled to support these extraordinary researchers to discover even more about kidney cancer and what can be done to treat it,” said Gretchen E. Vaughan, President and CEO of the KCA. “Their important work is directly tied to our vision to lead the way to curative therapies for the patients and families in our community.”

This year the KCA introduced a special Focus Award: Psychosocial in response to the need from both patients and researchers for a better understanding of the psychosocial issues facing people impacted by kidney cancer such as mental and emotional health. This award grants one researcher $75,000.

“Expanding the scope of our award program was really important,” said Sallie McAdoo, MS, CGC, the KCA’s Medical Director. “Addressing the psychosocial needs of people with kidney cancer is a critical part of our mission to provide support and education across the spectrum of kidney cancer. The better we can understand these needs and how to serve them, the better we’ll be able to support more patients and families.”

In addition to the new Focus Award: Psychosocial, the KCA granted two $500,000 Advanced Discovery Awards for collaborative research between established clinicians and basic scientists that will make an immediate impact in kidney cancer and four $75,000 Young Investigator Awards to promising researchers in urology and clinical oncology who are planning to pursue an investigative career in kidney cancer.

“We had a tremendous number of exciting projects to consider this year,” said Dr. Jose Karam, Chair of the KCA’s Grant Review Panel, member of the KCA’s Medical Steering Committee, and a urologic oncologist at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. “The 2021 awardees represent some of the most innovative thinkers in the kidney cancer field whose research has the potential to make great impacts on patients’ lives.”

Advanced Discovery Awards

Toni Choueiri, MD – Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Rizwan Romee, MD – Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Research project: Adoptive cytokine-induced memory-like NK cell therapy alone or in combination with avelumab for immunotherapy-refractory advanced renal cell carcinoma

Jianjun Gao, MD, PhD – The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Pavlos Msaouel, MD, PhD – The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Research project: Identification of Tumor Frameshift Neoantigens to Accurately Predict Response to Immune Checkpoint Therapy in Renal Cell Carcinoma

Young Investigator Awards

Elshad Hasanov, MD, PhD – University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Eric Jonasch, MD (Mentor) – University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Research project: Investigating genomic drivers of immune checkpoint inhibitors resistance in RCC brain metastasis: implications for immunotherapy

Eric C. Kauffman, MD – Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center

James Mohler, MD (Mentor) – Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center

Research project: Biology of spontaneously regressing renal cell carcinoma primary tumors

Nirmish Singla, MD, MSCS – Johns Hopkins University

Chetan Bettegowda, MD, PhD (Mentor) – Johns Hopkins Univesity

Research project: Tumor Evolution of Brain-Specific Tropism in Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma

Yuexin Xu, PhD – Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Edus H. Warren, MD, PhD (Mentor) – Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Research project: Transcriptomic single-cell and spatial mapping of immune cell infiltration and tumor-associated endothelial cell heterogeneity in renal cell carcinoma

Focus Award: Psychosocial

Cristiane Bergerot, PhD – Instituto Unity de Ensino e Pesquisa, Centro De Cancer de Brasilia

Research Project: Redefining Quality of Life Assessments in Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma


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]