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The Prostate Cancer Foundation Announces 2023 Challenge Awards Totaling More Than $21 Million For Prostate Cancer Research
PCF Challenge Awards fund international, multi-institutional, cross-disciplinary teams of investigators conducting highly innovative research with the greatest potential for accelerating new and improved treatments for advanced prostate cancer.

LOS ANGELES, Calif., March 14, 2024 – The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) today announced the 2023 Class of PCF Team Challenge Award recipients and a total of more than $21 million in funding for innovative prostate cancer research.

PCF Challenge Awards fund international, multi-institutional, cross-disciplinary teams of investigators conducting highly innovative research with the greatest potential for accelerating new and improved treatments for advanced prostate cancer. Following a rigorous peer review process that assessed each project’s scientific merit and potential patient impact, 20 highly coveted PCF Challenge Awards totaling $21.3 million were granted to teams at some of the world’s leading cancer research institutions.

For full project descriptions visit https://www.pcf.org/c/challenge-awards-class-of-2023/.

2023 James Cox Foundation, GTSN-PCF Challenge Award
Project Title: Targeting Neuroendocrine Cells in Prostate Cancer with Small Molecule and Targeted Radionuclide Therapies
Principal Investigators: Andrew Armstrong, MD, and Jiaoti Huang, MD, both of Duke University
(Studying the efficacy of and developing biomarkers for two new treatment approaches for neuroendocrine prostate cancer to address an unmet need encompassing precision immunotherapy for the treatment of highly aggressive forms of castration-resistant prostate cancer.)

2023 Republic National Distributing Company (RNDC)-PCF Challenge Award
Project Title: Development of a CBP/p300 Degrader for the Treatment of Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer
Principal Investigators: Arul Chinnaiyan, MD, PhD; Shaomeng Wang, PhD; Ulka Vaishampayan, MBBS; Abhijit Parolia, PhD, all of University of Michigan
(Developing a new therapy that targets the prostate cancer oncogenes CBP and p300, this project will provide preclinical efficacy data and analyze biomarkers of response from a phase 1/2 clinical trials in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer.)

2023 Bayer-PCF Health Equity Research Award
Project Title: Incorporating Patient Education into Germline Testing in Black Patients with Prostate Cancer
Principal Investigator: Burcu Darst, PhD, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center
(With the aim of reducing prostate cancer health disparities, this project will examine whether a tailored education program increases the likelihood of Black patients to undergo genetic testing and further the understanding of how this information impacts disease management decisions.)

2023 PCF Challenge Award
Project Title: Personalizing Treatment Decisions Through Composite Next Generation Imaging and Liquid Biomarker Development Within a Phase II Randomized Trial of Enzalutamide (+/- 177Lu-PSMA-617) (ENZAp)
Principal Investigator: Louise Emmett, MD, MBBS, St. Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, Australia
(Studying molecular imaging and liquid biopsies from patients on a clinical trial testing LuPSMA plus enzalutamide versus enzalutamide alone as first-line therapy in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer to better understand the mechanisms of synergy and resistance and develop biomarkers to guide individualized treatment decisions for patients.

2023 Sun Pharma-PCF VAlor Special Challenge Award
Project Title: A Phase 2 Randomized Study of YONSA® (Abiraterone Acetate), Enzalutamide or Apalutamide as First Line Therapy in Veterans with Castrate-Sensitive Prostate Cancer
Principal Investigators: Antonio Tito Fojo, MD, and Susan Bates, MD, both of James J. Peters Veterans Affair Medical Center
(Studying the effectiveness of an abiraterone-first strategy in the management of patients with castration-sensitive prostate cancer at the time when cancer recurrence is first documented.)

2023 PCF Challenge Award
Project Title: Identifying Drivers of Aggressive Prostate Cancer and Racial Disparities in Patients Presenting with Low-Grade Disease
Principal Investigators: Vanessa Hayes, PhD, The University of Sydney; Gail Prins, PhD, University of Illinois at Chicago; Riana Bornman, MD, University of Pretoria
(Identifying genetic and genomic risk factors of lethal prostate cancer in African ancestry patients and translating this information into new criteria for classifying, managing and treating prostate cancer in these patients in order to reduce racial health disparities.)

2023 Bayer-PCF Health Equity Research Award
Project Title: Impact of Genetic Ancestry and DNA Methylation on Prostate Cancer in African and African-American Patients
Principal Investigator: Brian Joyce, PhD, Northwestern University
(Investigating the usefulness of DNA methylation profiling of patient samples for the early detection and risk stratification of prostate cancer in Black men.)

2023 John Black Charitable Foundation-PCF Challenge Award
Project Title: Metabolic Imaging and Targeted Radionuclide Combination Treatment of Prostate Cancer Bone Metastases
Principal Investigators: Edward O’Neill, PhD, Claire Edwards, PhD, both of University of Oxford
(Studying the role of tumor metabolism in treatment responses to 177Lu-PSMA-617 radioligand therapy to identify potential biomarkers and therapeutic targets in advanced prostate cancer.)

2023 Bayer-PCF Health Equity Research Award
Project Title: Molecular Evaluation of Prostate Saturation and Progression Biopsies for Risk Assessment and Early Intervention
Principal Investigator: Nallasivam Palanisamy, PhD, MSc, Henry Ford Health System
(Analyzing at the molecular level prostate tumor samples from Black and white patients to understand racial differences in prostate cancer biology and disease progression, potentially leading to improved biomarker-based risk assessment tools for Black patients to improve health outcomes and reduce disparities.)

2023 Digital Science Press-PCF Challenge Award
Project Title: Intercepting the Cancer Endocycle to Cure Lethal Prostate Cancer
Principal Investigators: Kenneth Pienta, MD, Johns Hopkins University; Sarah Amend, PhD, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine; Emma Hammarlund, PhD, Lund University
(Investigating whether a dormant “endocycling” state underlies cancer cells’ ability to survive and resist therapy and testing new therapies to target cancer cells in this state.)

2023 Bayer-PCF Darolutamide Challenge Award
Project Title: Darolutamide to Augment Radiotheranostic Therapy in Biochemically Recurrent Prostate Cancer (DART-BCR)
Principal Investigators: Praful Ravi, MD, Harvard: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; David Einstein, MD, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
(Examining the efficacy of darolutamide alone or in combination with PSMA-targeted radioligand therapy to identify biomarkers for patients most likely to benefit from this combination therapy, and determining how PSMA, the target of prostate cancer treatments and PET imaging, is regulated.)

2023 Durden Foundation-PCF Challenge Award
Project Title: Characterizing Imaging, Genomic and Immune Predictors of 177Lu-PSMA (Lu-PSMA) and Olaparib Response in Patients with Metastatic Castration Resistant Prostate Cancer (mCRPC)
Principal Investigators: Shaneen Sandhu, MBBS, and Belinda Parker, PhD, both of the University of Melbourne
(Testing the efficacy of a combination of Lu-PSMA and Olaparib for certain patients with mCRPC and defining the biological impacts of this combined therapy to maximize its effectiveness.)

2023 John and Daria Barry Foundation-PCF VAlor Challenge Award
Project Title: Germline Influence on Prostate Cancer Metastasis and Response to Androgen Deprivation Therapy
Principal Investigators: Tyler Seibert, MD, PhD, and Rana McKay, MD, of University of California San Diego; and Paul Boutros, PhD, MBA, of University of California Los Angeles
(Using previously identified genetic variants that increase prostate cancer aggressiveness to develop a new genetic test that can predict individuals at high risk for developing lethal prostate cancer and their response to treatment.)

2023 Hamptons Coalition-PCF Challenge Award
Project Title:  Targeting Gut Bacterial Androgen Production to Reverse Therapeutic Resistance in Metastatic Prostate Cancer
Principal Investigators: Karen Sfanos, PhD, Johns Hopkins University; Cathy Marshall, MD, MPH, Mark Markowski, MD, PhD, both of Johns Hopkins Medicine; Jason Ridlon, PhD, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
(Developing and testing therapeutic strategies to prevent androgen production by gut bacteria in order to prolong the clinical response to anti-androgen therapies.)

2023 Regeneron-PCF Special Challenge Award
Project Title: A Pilot Presurgical Trial of REGN5678 (Anti-PSMAxCD28) in Patients with High-Risk, Localized Prostate Cancer Followed by Radical Prostatectomy
Principal Investigators: Padmanee Sharma, MD, PhD, Sumit Subudhi, MD, PhD, Brian Chapin, MD, Bilal Siddiqui, MD, all of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
(Investigating the efficacy of a new immunotherapy treatment, anti-PSMAxCD28 (REGN5678), that enables T cells to directly bind with and kill prostate cancer cells.)

2023 PCF Challenge Award
Project Title: Modulation of Anti-Androgen Response by NSD2 in Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer
Principal Investigators:  Michael Shen, PhD, Andrea Califano, PhD, of Columbia University Medical Center; Johann de Bono, MD, PhD, The Institute of Cancer Research; Charles L. Sawyers, MD, Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center
(Elucidating the mechanisms of NSD2 action, a critical driver and promising therapeutic target against highly aggressive neuroendocrine prostate cancer, to provide a foundation for early-phase trials of NSD2 inhibitors.)

2023 Bayer-PCF Darolutamide Challenge Award
Project Title: Darostep: Evaluating Step Counts as a Biomarker and its Relationship on Treatment Outcomes in Vulnerable Patients with Metastatic Hormone-Sensitive Prostate Cancer on Darolutamide and Androgen Deprivation Therapy
Principal Investigators: Russell Szmulewitz, MD, Nabiel Mir, MBBS, Megan Huisingh-Scheetz, all of The University of Chicago
(Evaluating the impact of treatment with darolutamide on age-related outcomes in vulnerable, older patients with metastatic hormone-sensitive prostate cancer.)

2023 Movember, Todd Boehly, Shmuel Meitar, Richard Merkin, MD, Marcel Claure-PCF Challenge Award
Project Title: Identification of Patients at High-Risk of Metastatic Disease After Neoadjuvant Intensive Androgen Signaling Inhibition
Principal Investigators: Mary-Ellen Taplin, MD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; Steven Balk, MD, PhD, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
(Developing biomarkers for identifying  patients with high-risk localized prostate cancer who are likely to benefit from neoadjuvant androgen receptor signaling inhibitors (ARSI) which could lead to a new treatment paradigm that will cure more patients at the localized disease stage.)

2023 Igor Tulchinsky-PCF Challenge Award
Project Title: ctDNA Determinants of Resistance to 177Lu-PSMA-617 versus Taxane-Based Chemotherapy
Principal Investigators: Alexander Wyatt, PhD, Vancouver Prostate Centre; Arun Azad, MD, Michael Hofman, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre; Kim Chi, MD, BC Cancer
(Developing new blood-based biomarker tests to predict how well patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer will respond to 177Lu-PSMA-617  versus taxane chemotherapy while identifying new molecular mechanisms that drive treatment resistance.)

2023 Richard Solomon, Igor Tulchinsky, Darius Bikoff, John Paulson, Richard Sandler, Bill Mack, Jason Safriet-PCF Challenge Award
Project Title: New Targeted Epigenetic Therapy for Androgen Receptor-Negative Prostate Cancer
Principal Investigators: Ming-Ming Zhou, PhD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; Kunhong Xiao, PhD, Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute
(Establishing the mechanisms of action and preclinical efficacy of a novel BRD4- targeted therapy for diverse subtypes of metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer.)


About the Prostate Cancer Foundation
The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is the world’s leading philanthropic organization dedicated to funding life-saving prostate cancer research. Founded in 1993 by Mike Milken, PCF has been responsible for raising more than $1 billion in support of cutting-edge research through more than 2,250 research projects at 245 leading cancer centers, with a global footprint spanning 28 countries. Since PCF’s inception, and through its efforts, patients around the world are living longer, suffering fewer complications, and enjoying better quality of all life. PCF is committed to creating a global public square for prostate cancer, in service to our mission of ending death and suffering from the disease. Learn more at pcf.org.


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Staci L. Vernick
Prostate Cancer Foundation
[email protected]
[email protected]