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Kure It-AACR Research Grants

The Kure It-AACR Research Grants represent a joint effort to promote and support innovative cancer research. AACR has awarded two grants through this partnership: the Kure It-AACR Grant for Kidney Cancer Research, intended for independent investigators to develop and study new ideas and approaches that have direct application and relevance to kidney cancer patients; and the Kure It-AACR Research Grant for Immunotherapy in Kidney Cancer, available to independent investigators to study immunological aspects of, or treatments for, kidney cancer. Applications are invited from researchers currently in their field as well as from investigators with experience in other areas of cancer research who have promising ideas or research approaches that can be applied to kidney cancer research. These grants support innovative research projects designed to improve the survival and quality of life of patients with kidney cancer and lead to individualized therapeutic options for treatment or the development of promising new cancer therapeutics for kidney cancer.

2018 Grantee

AACR-Kure It Research Grant for Immunotherapy in Kidney Cancer
W. Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD

W. Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD

Division Chief
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Nashville, Tennessee
Immunosuppression in the RCC tumor microenvironment

Scientific Statement of Research
The renal cell carcinomas (RCC) display a range of specific metabolic deficiencies that alter the tumor cell bioenergetics and alter their extracellular environment. In an era of rapidly expanding immunotherapy, a critical gap exists in our ability to augment the response to immune therapies. Our laboratory characterized defects in clear cell RCC (ccRCC) infiltrating lymphocytes, revealing functional metabolic deficiencies that can be overcome with exogenous manipulations of metabolic signals. The ability to manipulate the functionality of immune cells represents an opportunity to impact immune response with a finer level of control. We hypothesize that factors in the tumor microenvironment contribute to the blunted responsiveness immune cells, and that manipulations of immune cell metabolism can promote enhanced functionality. Modulating immune cell response via checkpoint inhibition is increasingly accessible, a strategy which we will apply in settings that mimic the microenvironmental conditions of both ccRCC and nonclear cell RCC.

Dr. Rathmell is the Cornelius Craig professor of medicine and biochemistry and director for the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Vanderbilt, studying the molecular biology of renal cell carcinomas and rare tumors of the kidney. Her research examines the molecular underpinnings of tumors arising in the kidney, with funded studies examining chromatin biology, immune modulation, tumor metabolism, and angiogenesis. She additionally conducts clinical research and helped establish an alliance to increase research and awareness of rare renal tumors (RMC Alliance). She is broadly involved in the cancer genome atlas (TCGA) initiative, and co-led TCGA studies related to kidney cancers.

Acknowledgement of Support
The AACR-Kure It Research Grant for Immunotherapy in Kidney Cancer is a critical investment in basic science research. This award allows our laboratory to explore a new area of renal cell biology by focusing on the tumor microenvironment with potential to augment the rapidly emerging strategies of immune therapy.