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D-H Health Funds Dedicated Cancer Research Time

Published Tuesday Aug 13, 2019

D-H Health Funds Dedicated Cancer Research Time

A new program will create dedicated time to assist Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health clinicians in researching causes of and cures for cancer. Six D-H Cancer Research Fellows will share $1 million in annual funding to support up to two full days for each of them to continue their important cancer research. The initial group of Cancer Research Fellows was chosen through a competitive, peer-reviewed process overseen by D-HH CEO and President Joanne M. Conroy MD, and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center Director Steven Leach, MD. 

In June, the selection committee, made up of the scientific leadership of the Cancer Center, announced the first six applicants chosen to receive funding from the program. Recipients range from promising young investigators, to experienced clinicians, all of whom proposed exciting, noteworthy research ideas but were in need of dedicated research time to execute their research.

The first Cancer Research Fellows include:

  • Medical oncologist Gabriel Brooks, MD, MPH, whose research evaluates health care delivery approaches with a goal of improving the safety, tolerability, and effectiveness of chemotherapy for gastrointestinal cancers.
  • Gastroenterologist Audrey Calderwood, MD, who is passionate about improving care around colorectal cancer prevention. Her research optimizes use of screening and surveillance colonoscopy to ensure that high-risk patients receive appropriate and timely care, and that low-risk patients avoid overuse and unnecessary harm.
  • Surgical oncologist Joseph Phillips, MD, a thoracic surgeon whose research is centered around immunology in non-small cell lung cancer. He is actively recruiting patients for enrollment in a small, funded pilot study.
  • Medical oncologist Keisuke Shirai, MD, MSc, a formally trained and accomplished clinical researcher. His clinical practice focuses on melanoma and lung cancer, and research focuses on furthering immune checkpoint inhibitor treatments and immunotherapy.
  • Pathologist Louis Vaickus, MD, PhD, who focuses on programmatic data analysis, particularly application of artificial intelligence in global health. He has engaged machine learning and AI to create an accessible and inexpensive system capable of automating bladder cancer screening and extracting inconceivable levels of detail from a specimen.
  • Medical oncologist Ivy Wilkinson-Ryan, MD, who studies the effect of chemotherapy on the ovarian cancer immune environment.

“Each one of these recipients demonstrated a thoughtful approach, a collaborative spirit and an incredible dedication to gathering data and developing strategies to bring their research to fruition – all with the same passionate desire to make a difference in the lives of our cancer patients,” says Conroy.

“The Norris Cotton Cancer Center is extremely grateful to the leadership support from Dartmouth-Hitchcock for funding this innovative new program,” says Steven Leach, MD, director. “By providing our young investigators with appropriate time to develop their discoveries and bring them to our patients, we are providing the spark for future cancer cures.”


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