Skip to main content

Ferrell lands Mark Foundation for Cancer Research award

Mar. 17, 2022, 9:52 AM


by Tom Wilemon

The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research has selected four outstanding scientific research projects to receive $12 million in funding for its 2022 Endeavor Awards. Promoting collaborative science, Endeavor Awards are granted to multidisciplinary teams pursuing innovative, unique approaches to understand and treat cancer.

P. Brent Ferrell, MD, is part of a multidisciplinary team studying new approaches to understand and treat cancer.
P. Brent Ferrell, MD, is part of a multidisciplinary team studying new approaches to understand and treat cancer. (photo by Donn Jones)

These four Endeavor teams, which bring together investigators from top cancer research centers across two continents and eight U.S. states, will focus on cutting-edge topics in cancer research including inflammation, the microbiome, metabolism and the humoral immune system.

Brent Ferrell, MD, assistant professor of Medicine, is one of the recipients and will work with three other researchers on one of the projects.

“Collaboration is critical to success in science,” said Raymond DuBois, MD, PhD, executive chair of the board of the Mark Foundation. “We’re confident that the incredible projects selected for Endeavor Awards will have a direct and substantial impact on the lives of cancer patients.”

The Mark Foundation Endeavor Awards, launched in 2021, support collaborative research projects that bring together investigators from a wide range of disciplines to tackle the toughest challenges in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. The $3 million grants are awarded to teams of three or more investigators to generate and integrate data from diverse lines of research and transform those insights into advances for cancer patients that could not be achieved by individual efforts.

The response to the call for proposals was robust; grantees were selected from nearly 200 applications received from host institutions around the globe. The Mark Foundation’s scientific advisory committee, chaired by Ross Levine, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, conducted a rigorous review process, including live interviews with the finalist teams to assess team chemistry and dynamics.

“The response to the call for proposals demonstrates the hunger that scientists have for opportunities to work together across disciplines,” said Levine. “Funding for team science has become increasingly scarce; The Mark Foundation’s Endeavor Awards will serve as a critical resource to transform scientific research into advances for patients.”

Ferrell will work with Robert Welner, PhD, and Rui Lu, PhD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and with Stanley Lee, PhD, of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center on a project entitled “Dissecting Drivers of Inflammation and Clonality in the MDS Microenvironment.”

“We all have different kinds of skills, experience and training, so each of us will bring different expertise to this project, but we all have the same goals,” Ferrell said. “The idea isn’t that we would have our own little projects within this big project, but to really tackle this together and collaborate and do team science.”

A total of seven Endeavor awards have been granted to date: three inaugural teams received grants for projects beginning in 2021, in addition to the four newly awarded teams starting in 2022. A new call for proposals for Endeavor teams will be issued in May 2022, with at least three additional awards expected to be granted.

This substantial commitment to team science is enabled by the recently announced commitment of Alex Knaster, founder of The Mark Foundation, to fund an additional $500 million of cancer research over the Foundation’s first decade.

Recent Stories from VUMC News and Communications Publications

Vanderbilt Medicine
VUMC Voice