2022 George Edgecomb Society Grant Recipients Announced
The George Edgecomb Society (GES) has awarded grants of $75,000 each to three Moffitt teams conducting cancer health disparities research. This is the fifth cycle for the grants, which are a key part of the society's efforts to reduce cancer health disparities. Your support makes these studies and other GES-funded programs possible.
Doratha Byrd, PhD
Investigating the role of the gut microbiome and systemic immunity in breast cancer disparities
In the United States, Black women suffer higher breast cancer mortality than other racial and ethnic groups. These differences may partly be explained by higher rates of triple-negative breast cancer, the most aggressive breast cancer subtype among Black women. The gut microbiome comprises trillions of microorganisms that are likely influenced by known and unknown factors related to race/ethnicity that may lead to breast cancer. A better understanding of the associations of the gut microbiome with immunity among diverse breast cancer patients is critical to inform future studies of the gut microbiome’s influence on cancer prognosis and treatment effectiveness. This study will establish a biorepository of fecal samples, blood, tissue, and data among Black breast cancer patients, matched non-Hispanic white breast cancer patients, and women with hormone receptor-negative breast cancers. Ultimately, findings will support larger grants with broad, long-term goals to identify potentially modifiable gut microbiome characteristics that drive disparities in breast cancer outcomes and microbial biomarkers that predict favorable clinical responses to enhance clinical decision-making efforts.
Pei-Ling Chen, MD
Defining the genomic correlate of racial disparity in cutaneous T-cell lymphoma
As we celebrate the decline in death rates for many common cancers, there is a sobering underrepresentation of this success in rare cancers and particularly in vulnerable populations. Black patients show the highest death rate and shortest survival across most cancers. Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) is an example of a rare T-cell lymphoma with a well-documented racial disparity. Large-scale studies show Black patients get this cancer more often, at younger ages and with lower survival rates than white patients. The potential biological contributors of this racial disparity are poorly understood and never investigated. Dr. Chen’s key objective is to define the genomic alterations that contribute to this cancer disparity and identify unique predictive biomarkers and therapeutic vulnerabilities in the Black patients.
Jameel Muzaffar, MD
Immunotherapy in head and neck cancer; role of gut microbiome metabolism in racial disparity
Head and neck cancer is the sixth most common cancer worldwide, with more than 500,000 deaths annually. While immune checkpoint blocker (ICB) therapy has improved treatment outcomes, Black patients still have 50% higher mortality than white patients, despite similar treatments. ICBs are antibodies that block checkpoint molecules, release the brakes on host T-cells, augment antitumor immune responses and lead to tumor regression. But different immune profiles among racial/ethnic groups could translate to unequal ICB response rates. Dr. Muzaffar has developed preliminary data demonstrating differences in gut microbiome and metabolite signature associated with responses to immunotherapy in white patients with head and neck cancer. This study will evaluate gut microbiome/metabolome of Black patients and compare it to white patients to identify biomarkers of racial disparity in immunotherapy treatment outcomes. If successful and validated, gut microbiome, unlike other biomarkers, can be favorably modulated to improve immune response and treatment outcomes in Black patients.