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URMC / News / NCI Awards $3.85M to Wilmot for Collaborative Project on Aging, Cancer

NCI Awards $3.85M to Wilmot for Collaborative Project on Aging, Cancer

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Karen Mustian, Ph.D. and Supriya Mohile, M.D.
Karen Mustian, Ph.D. and Supriya Mohile, M.D.

Three Wilmot Cancer Institute researchers received a highly-valued type of National Cancer Institute award that supports team science, a strategy needed for future success.

Known as a multi-principal investigator (MPI) award, the $3.85 million grant goes to Supriya Mohile, M.D.,  Karen Mustian, Ph.D., and Michelle Janelsins, Ph.D., as principal investigators. The trio will study a novel way to help adults who are 65 and older transition from chemotherapy to cancer survivorship.

All are leaders within Wilmot’s Cancer Prevention and Control research program, but they bring different perspectives based on their interests, training, and expertise.

Michelle Janelsins, Ph.D.
Michelle Janelsins, Ph.D.

“Receiving an MPI award is a feather in the cap for Wilmot,” said Hucky Land, Ph.D., Deputy Director of Wilmot and director of research. “It really demonstrates a new level of transdisciplinary activity. And within any cancer center you can measure success through projects like this one. Collaboration is what elevates the work to new places.”

The project will study new interventions that improve function and overall health of older adults with cancer. Importantly, another major goal is to improve a patient’s ability to attend follow-up appointments and avoid hospitalizations.

The research is designed to fill an observed gap in survivorship care for this demographic, said Mohile, who founded Wilmot’s geriatric oncology clinic, one of the first in the nation.

By 2040, 73 percent of survivors will be 65 or older and almost 50 percent will be 75 years or older, and yet aging-related conditions are not routinely addressed in survivorship care.

The NCI funded the multi-investigator project at $770,000 per year for five years. Mohile, Mustian, and Janelsins have robust track records for groundbreaking studies in geriatric oncology, exercise oncology, and cognitive impairment related to cancer and its treatment. In fact, Mohile and Mustian were invited to give high-profile talks at this month's American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) virtual annual meeting, and Janelsins was recently elected as a Fellow to the Society of Behavioral Medicine, a high honor.

The team developed a program that combines geriatric assessment – or triaging and managing physical and cognitive problems and social circumstances of geriatric oncology patients -- with a realistic and tailored education plan to improve function after chemotherapy.

They will conduct a randomized clinical study that enrolls patients from community oncology practices across the country. Researchers will also examine whether the new survivorship program has a positive impact on communication between cancer providers and primary care doctors and on care-giver distress or satisfaction.

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