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The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation and Conquer Cancer Foundation Partner to Support Early-Career Oncologists

Each year in the United States, 2,000 to 3,000 people develop cholangiocarcinoma, or bile duct cancer. However, the incidence of cholangiocarcinoma is increasing, mostly because of the rising rates of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma that occurs in the liver. The reason for this increase is not known. The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation—a nonprofit whose mission is to find a cure and improve the quality of life for patients with cholangiocarcinoma—has been at the forefront of efforts that raise awareness and promote research for this rare form of cancer.

Since 2011, the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation has supported cholangiocarcinoma research through the Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO’s Grants and Awards Program. In the past 3 years, it has funded two Young Investigator Awards (YIA) and a Long-term International Fellowship (LIFe) for research projects examining the diagnosis and treatment of cholangiocarcinoma. The YIA is a 1-year, $50,000 research grant that encourages and promotes quality research in clinical oncology by financially supporting promising oncologists who are entering careers as investigators. The LIFe enables early-career oncologists from low- and middle-income countries to earn valuable experience and training at a U.S. or Canadian institution, which they can then use to facilitate change in cancer care in their home country.

 “[The YIA program] is one of the vehicles that helps us connect with hopefully everyone who is touched by this disease,” said Marion Schwartz, advocacy director of the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation, in an interview with the Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium Daily News. “We’re at such an early stage of understanding this disease that any information, any interest, any compiling of medical occurrences in specific areas will help us find directions that we can focus on more—and these breakthroughs will come from the individual researchers.”

Supriya Saha, MD, PhD, of Massachusetts General Hospital, received a 2013 Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO YIA supported by the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation to use new models of cholangiocarcinoma to investigate one of the most common gene mutations found in the disease and identify potential new drug combinations to treat patients. “I am extremely grateful to the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation for their generous support,” Dr. Saha said. “[My team and I] are hopeful that our efforts will provide valuable new tools for both scientists and pharmaceutical companies to rapidly evaluate new therapies before they reach the clinic.”

By supporting investigators early in their careers, the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation hopes to encourage oncologists to pursue a lifelong investigation of the disease. The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation especially aspires to support international investigators in Asia and the Middle East, where the instances of the disease are much higher.

In 2011, the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation supported a LIFe grant to Suebpong Tanasanvimon, MD, of King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. Although about 9% of adult primary liver cancers are cholangiocarcinomas, the population of Northeast Thailand has one of the highest known rates of the disease. Dr. Tanasanvimon spent a year at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center studying liver fluke–associated cholangiocarcinoma and how it differs from spontaneous cholangiocarcinoma. The results from his study were presented at the 2013 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium.

As part of its ongoing commitment to support early-career investigators, the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation is excited to support a Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO 2014 YIA in Cholangiocarcinoma Research, which will be presented during a Grants and Awards Ceremony at the 2014 ASCO Annual Meeting.

Visit Cholangiocarcinoma.org to learn more about the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation and their efforts to make a difference in the diagnosis and treatment of cholangiocarcinoma. For additional information about the Conquer Cancer Foundation’s YIA and LIFe programs, visit ConquerCancerFoundation.org.