Nav: Home

Keck School of Medicine of USC receives grant for esophageal cancer research

March 23, 2017

LOS ANGELES -- Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) has been awarded a $175,000 grant from the DeGregorio Family Foundation and Price Family Foundation to support research aimed at gaining a deeper understanding of how gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) increases the risk of developing esophageal cancer.

Grant recipient Anisa Shaker, MD, assistant professor of medicine, is exploring how a certain type of cell called a myofibroblast controls inflammation, injury and repair in the esophagus.

"Myofibroblasts can be found throughout the digestive system, including the lining of the esophagus. We believe that they may play an important role in the development of esophageal cancer," Shaker said. "This grant will allow us to adapt myofibroblasts from patients with GERD into a 3-D model of the esophageal lining, which is where esophageal cancer begins."

GERD is a common disorder that affects up to one in five people in the United States. It occurs when the contents of the stomach back up into the esophagus and/or mouth over a prolonged period of time, which can sometimes cause tissue damage.

Having GERD can significantly increase a person's risk for developing esophageal adenocarcinoma, the predominant type of esophageal cancer in the Western world. The risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma is almost eight times higher in patients with symptomatic GERD than in those who do not have GERD.

Esophageal adenocarcinoma primarily affects middle-aged or older adults and is more common in men than women. It is frequently diagnosed at an advanced stage because there are usually no warning signs or symptoms early on.

"Esophageal adenocarcinoma is the fastest-growing lethal malignancy in the West," Shaker said. "There is an urgency to better understand how it occurs so that we can work toward preventing or curing it. The grant from the DeGregorio Family Foundation and Price Family Foundation will help us get a step closer to achieving that goal."

The DeGregorio Family Foundation is dedicated to promoting research on esophageal and stomach cancer.

"Our hope with this grant is to spur collaboration among physician researchers that will advance their research goals and help them secure larger grants," Lynn Gregorio, president and founder of the DeGregorio Family Foundation, said.

Since 2006, the foundation has given $2 million in grants to researchers who have gone on to obtain an additional $11 million in National Institute of Health and Star Foundation grants.

Founded in 1885, the Keck School of Medicine of USC is among the nation's leaders in innovative patient care, scientific discovery, education, and community service. It is part of Keck Medicine of USC, the University of Southern California's medical enterprise, one of only two university-owned academic medical centers in the Los Angeles area. This includes the Keck Medical Center of USC, composed of the Keck Hospital of USC and the USC Norris Cancer Hospital. The two world-class, USC-owned hospitals are staffed by more than 500 physicians who are faculty at the Keck School. The school today has approximately 1,650 full-time faculty members and voluntary faculty of more than 2,400 physicians. These faculty direct the education of approximately 700 medical students and 1,000 students pursuing graduate and post-graduate degrees. The school trains more than 900 resident physicians in more than 50 specialty or subspecialty programs and is the largest educator of physicians practicing in Southern California. Together, the school's faculty and residents serve more than 1.5 million patients each year at Keck Hospital of USC and USC Norris Cancer Hospital, as well as USC-affiliated hospitals Children's Hospital Los Angeles and Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center. Keck School faculty also conduct research and teach at several research centers and institutes, including the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute, the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine at USC, the USC Cardiovascular Thoracic Institute, the USC Roski Eye Institute and the USC Institute of Urology.

In 2017, U.S. News & World Report ranked Keck School of Medicine among the Top 40 medical schools in the country.

For more information, go to

For more information about the DeGregorio Family Foundation, go to

University of Southern California - Health Sciences

Related Esophageal Cancer Articles:

A new machine learning approach detects esophageal cancer better than current methods
Dartmouth scientists have proposed a new machine learning model for identification of esophageal cancer that could open new avenues for applying deep learning to digital pathology.
Lymph nodes can predict survival in patients with esophageal cancer
It is difficult for physicians to estimate recurrence and survival in patients with esophageal cancer.
New model improves staging and risk predictions for esophageal cancer patients
A new nomogram for assessing metastatic risk in esophageal cancer patients shows promise for more accurate risk-stratification, which is particularly relevant for stage T2 patients.
Combo of virotherapy and radiotherapy shows early promise in patients with esophageal cancer
The experimental oncolytic adenovirus telomelysin (OBP-301) in combination with radiotherapy was safe and showed early clinical efficacy in vulnerable patients with esophageal cancer, according to results from a phase I clinical trial presented at the AACR Annual Meeting 2019, March 29-April 3.
Drinking hot tea linked with elevated risk of esophageal cancer
Previous studies have revealed a link between hot tea drinking and risk of esophageal cancer, but until now, no study has examined this association using prospectively and objectively measured tea drinking temperature.
Newly identified drug targets could open door for esophageal cancer therapeutics
Blocking two molecular pathways that send signals inside cancer cells could stave off esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC), the most common esophageal malignancy in the United States, according to new research out of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.
Test for esophageal cancer could save millions of lives
Cancer of the esophagus claims more than 400,000 lives around the world each year.
Genome offers clues to esophageal cancer disparity
A change in the genome of Caucasians could explain much-higher rates of the most common type of esophageal cancer in this population, a new study finds.
Detecting esophageal cancer cells
Researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington's College of Nursing and Health Innovation have developed a new nanoparticle-based platform for simultaneous imaging and treatment of esophageal cancer.
ASCO18: Trial shows how PET scans help tailor therapy for esophageal cancer
Survival results for the CALGB 80303 Trial presented at ASCO18 show that PET scan may determine which esophageal cancer patients should continue first chemotherapy and who should switch.
More Esophageal Cancer News and Esophageal Cancer Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Accessing Better Health
Essential health care is a right, not a privilege ... or is it? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can give everyone access to a healthier way of life, despite who you are or where you live. Guests include physician Raj Panjabi, former NYC health commissioner Mary Bassett, researcher Michael Hendryx, and neuroscientist Rachel Wurzman.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#544 Prosperity Without Growth
The societies we live in are organised around growth, objects, and driving forward a constantly expanding economy as benchmarks of success and prosperity. But this growing consumption at all costs is at odds with our understanding of what our planet can support. How do we lower the environmental impact of economic activity? How do we redefine success and prosperity separate from GDP, which politicians and governments have focused on for decades? We speak with ecological economist Tim Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Surrey, Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Propserity, and author of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

An Announcement from Radiolab