Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Rolfe Grantee Honored

Christine Iacobuzio-Donahue, MD, PhD, a scientist supported by the Rolfe Foundation, displays award

As part of the Johns Hopkins pancreatic cancer research team, Dr. Iacobuzio-Donahue established, then expanded the Gastrointestinal Cancer Rapid Medical Donation Program.

Rolfe Foundation Medical Research

Rolfe group and Johns Hopkins scientists at April 24th visit.




Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions (Baltimore)

$62,500 to support a special project:  “Genetic Sequencing of Patients with Familial Pancreatic Cancer”

The pancreatic cancer team of Drs. Anirban Maitra, Alison Klein, Mike Goggins and Jim Eshleman will sequence the genomes (all 3 billion letters of DNA) of 500 patients with familial pancreatic cancer.  This project seeks to discover the genes that cause familial pancreatic cancer based on a person’s DNA sequence. 

$50,000 to support the research project of Laura Wood, MD, PhD
 “Characterization of the Moment of Invasion in Pancreatic Neoplasms”

Invasive pancreatic cancer is an aggressive deadly cancer with a dismal prognosis.  Invasive pancreatic cancer arises from non-invasive precursor lesions that, if detected early enough, are curable.  The goal is to remove these lesions before they progress to an invasive cancer.  This research will try to characterize the moment of transition between non-invasive cysts and the infiltrating cancer.

The University of Chicago (Chicago)

$100,000 representing the first installment on a $200,000 pledge toward a post-doctoral surgical oncology fellow

This individual will dedicate two years to early detection pancreatic cancer research and partner with Drs. Kevin Roggin and Mitchel Posner.  The fellowship will be named:  The Michael Rolfe Pancreatic Cancer Foundation Fellow for the entire term of the gift.

Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston)
Via The Lustgarten Foundation

$67,601 to support the research of Dr. Cesar Castro, “Imaging Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma Via Novel Cathespin E Imaging Agents”

Currently, there are no imaging tests that can effectively discriminate normal tissue from suspicious masses, including pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC).  While surgical removal of localized PDAC remains the standard, differentiating between what is cancer and what is surrounding inflammation remains challenging.  Successful PDAC imaging requires targets that are more numerous in pancreatic cancer compared to non-cancerous pancreas or inflammatory cells.  Dr. Castro’s prior work shows that Cathepsin E (CTSE) is a marker found along the spectrum of pancreatic caner (early to late stage) but is not found in surrounding normal tissue.  His team will use an anti-viral drug with strong binding preferences for CTSE as a scaffold upon which to attach imaging beacons that can be detected by a PET scan.

University of Chicago (Chicago, IL)


The Rolfe Foundation is in its sixth year of partnership with the University of Chicago (U of C) in advancing pancreatic cancer research to improve early detection of the disease, when clinical interventions can be most effective. In 2012 the Foundation completed a two-year pledge to build a database infrastructure that serves as the backbone to drive cross- institutional research. The database, when paired with a comprehensive biospecimen tissue repository, is already proving to be a driver of new research at U of C and beyond. Under the leadership of Dr. Kevin Roggin, the tissue databank has allowed him and other surgeons to collect and store blood, cyst fluid and tissue samples from patient with benign, premalignant and cancerous lesions in order to identify predictive markers that are differentially expressed in malignant pancreatic tumors.

The corresponding database was created to combine clinical, molecular, and genomic data from the tissue specimens in one central location, separating patients into low and high risk groups that will be used to predict cancer-specific and surgical outcomes and identify early detection targets and interventions.

Rolfe & Johns Hopkins Minimize

Rolfe Foundation presents $112,500 check to Johns Hopkins for early detection pancreatic cancer reasearch

(left to right) Dr. Ralph Hruban, Deputy Director of Pathology Research; Paul Rothman, M.D., Dean, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Jim Rolfe, President of the Rolfe Foundation; Judy Rolfe, Fouding Board Member of the Rolfe Foundation

Rolfe & Lustgarten

Ohio State Research

(left to right) Rolfe Foundation President Jim Rolfe, Executive Director Lynda Robbins, Ohio State Investigator Tom Schmittgen, PhD, and Lustgarten Foundation Executive Director Kerri Kaplan


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