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Cancer, concussions and COVID-19: College of Medicine faculty receive funds for research

Penn State College of Medicine researchers received 140 research grants totaling nearly $22 million for their projects between January and March 2021. Faculty will investigate why patients with heart disease have muscle pain when exercising and explore new treatments for patients with cancer. Read more about select projects below.

A head-and-shoulders professional photo of Steven Moore, MD

Steven Moore, MD

A multicenter, adaptive, randomized controlled platform trial of the safety and efficacy of antithrombotic strategies in hospitalized adults with COVID-19

Investigator: Steven Moore, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine

Grant amount: $317,548

Awarded by: University of Pittsburgh

Goal: This grant funds the College of Medicine’s participation in a clinical trial evaluating the effectiveness of certain drugs in preventing blood clotting events in patients diagnosed with COVID-19 who have evidence of inflammation. Researchers are collecting samples to assess biomarkers of inflammation and clotting in patients.


A head-and-shoulders professional photo of Marc Kaufman, PhD

Marc Kaufman, PhD

Role played by acid ion sensing channels in peripheral artery disease

Investigator: Marc Kaufman, PhD, professor of medicine, research associate director at Penn State Heart and Vascular Institute

Grant amount: $523,022 ($2,266,430 anticipated through November 2024)

Awarded by: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

Goal: When exercising, patients with peripheral artery disease can experience severe muscle pain as well as excessive increases in arterial blood pressure and heart rate. These effects are initiated by sensory nerves in the exercising muscles that are stimulated by the overproduction of specific chemicals. Kaufman will study the nature of the chemical stimuli and their receptors on the sensory nerves that cause both the pain and the excessive cardiovascular effects that occur when patients with peripheral artery disease exercise.


A head-and-shoulders professional photo of Nicholas Zaorsky, MD, MS

Nicholas Zaorsky, MD, MS

EXERT for metastatic prostate cancer

Investigator: Nicholas Zaorsky, MD, MS, assistant professor of radiation oncology and public health sciences

Grant amount: $729,000

Awarded by: American Cancer Society

Goal: Zaorsky will use these funds to launch a clinical trial to assess whether adding exercise therapy in addition to radiation therapy for men with metastatic prostate cancer will decrease side effects from radiation therapy and improve quality of life. Research shows that improving quality of life can improve survival, so the research team hypothesizes that exercise therapy, which usually improves quality of life, may help men with prostate cancer live longer.


A head-and-shoulders professional photo of Wei Li, PhD

Wei Li, PhD

The role and mechanism of necrosis in glioblastoma

Investigator: Wei Li, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics and of biochemistry and molecular biology

Grant amount: $393,454 ($1,967,270 anticipated through January 2026)

Awarded by: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Goal: Glioblastoma is a common and aggressive form of brain cancer. Glioblastoma patients with a higher degree of necrosis, or tissue death, have a poor chance of survival. Li will determine the processes that drive this tissue death so that new therapeutics can be developed to improve outcomes for these patients. Read more about Li’s recent findings.


A head-and-shoulders professional photo of Steven Hicks, MD, PhD

Steven Hicks, MD, PhD

Polyomic predictors of symptom duration and recovery for adolescent concussion

Investigator: Steven Hicks, MD, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics

Grant amount: $631,685 ($2,894,718 anticipated through December 2025)

Awarded by: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Goal: Nearly 3 million mild traumatic brain injuries, or concussions, occur in the U.S. each year and most occur in patients less than 21 years old. Hicks will use this funding to launch a multi-center clinical trial to evaluate whether molecules in saliva can be used to help predict the length of symptoms that patients experience and determine when the brain has recovered. Read more about this research.


Other awards

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