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Pitt Researchers Receive American Cancer Society Grants

PITTSBURGH, Sept. 21, 2017 – Four cancer researchers from the University of Pittsburgh will share $882,000 in grants recently awarded by the American Cancer Society (ACS) as part of a $45 million funding program.
Sarah M. Belcher, B.S.N., of Pitt’s Department of Health and Community Systems, will further her research on patients with multiple primary cancers (MPC) to determine what factors increase an adult survivor’s risk for persistent stress and how an MPC survivor’s responses to perceived stress influence health outcomes.
Sarah Gallups, M.P.H., of Pitt’s Department of Acute and Tertiary Care, aims to improve potential inequalities in cancer care by identifying obstacles and measuring the efficiency of current patient navigation programs with the goal of improving these programs.
Dexing Zeng, Ph.D., of Pitt’s Department of Medicine, will further his research on non-invasive imaging of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), the second-leading cause of death among gastrointestinal malignancies and the third-leading cause of cancer death overall in the United States. Zeng is proposing a novel imaging strategy to detect PDAC precursor lesions noninvasively. The proposed imaging strategy likely will offer an opportunity for early identification of PDAC, which is critical for both preventing and curing the disease.
Yehui Zhu, M.S.N., of Pitt’s Department of Health and Community Systems, is researching an endocrine treatment known as aromatase inhibitors for postmenopausal women with breast cancer. While beneficial, the treatment also causes musculoskeletal symptoms that impact quality of life. This study will investigate factors that increase risk for developing the symptoms, providing scientific evidence for oncologists and cancer care providers to better identify those at high risk so they may better manage these symptoms.
These grants are among those recently approved by ACS to fund 109 research and training grants totaling $45,624,250 at the University of Pittsburgh and 75 other institutions across the United States. Twenty-four of the grants will support the training of oncology nurses and social workers, an area that currently is underfunded.

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