Looking back on 2016, NETRF took giant steps to transform the approach to neuroendocrine tumor research. We are proud of our efforts to ACCELERATE, INNOVATE, COLLABORATE, and EDUCATE. Thank you to all our donors, researchers, and volunteers, without whom we could not have achieved this progress.
NETRF has accelerated our research funding, thanks to the generous support of the Margie and Robert E. Petersen Foundation. We developed the new Accelerator Grants program—looking for the best ideas from the best research teams. These multi-year grants of more than $1 million each will support projects that can be transformative in our understanding and treatment of neuroendocrine tumors. A request for research proposals (RFP) was issued in August. The global response was larger than anticipated, with applicants representing 14 countries. NETRF’s Board of Scientific Advisors reviewed every proposal and announcement of our first “accelerator” grants is expected in the next several months.
Two Petersen Investigators were named in 2016 to support the work of accomplished scientists to continue their innovative work in NET research. Dr. Gigi Lozano at MD Anderson Cancer Center and Dr. Michael German, who is profiled in this e-update, have received the first of these two-year grants.
Our new collaborations have enabled NETRF to support additional innovation. NETRF funded a first-ever “ERF Nuclear Medicine Pilot for Neuroendocrine Research” for innovations in the use of nuclear imaging for diagnosis and treatment of NETs through the Educational Research Foundation (ERF) for Nuclear Medicine. The award was announced on World NET Cancer Awareness Day and will enable Dr. Thomas Hope, a nuclear medicine specialist at University of California at San Francisco, to treat patients with a potentially more targeted and effective approach to PRRT. NETRF also sponsored a first “NANETS Basic Translational Science Investigator” (BTSI) award through the North American Neuroendocrine Tumor Society (NANETS). The award went to Dr. Christopher Heaphy, a researcher at Johns Hopkins, focused on the field of epigenetics.
Our continuing collaborations with the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), International Neuroendocrine Cancer Alliance (INCA) and European Neuroendocrine Tumor Society (ENETS) also help us to engage the international NET patient and medical communities to attract potential research partners all over the globe. To further accelerate progress and learning, in 2016 NETRF also increased its commitment to convening these and other NET researchers annually to share new findings, and collectively identify priorities for advancing the search for a cure.
Another very important part of our mission at NETRF is to educate and support patients and their families so they can better navigate the NET “journey”. In 2016, more than 1000 people attended four NETRF patient education programs around the United States. Videos from the programs, along with resource information on support groups and clinicians, are available on the NETRF website.