Project title: Defining the Multicellular Ecosystem of Nonmetastatic & Metastatic PanNETs

Aatur D. Singhi, MD, PhD UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

Aatur D. Singhi, MD, PhD
  • Status: Active
  • Year(s): 2022
  • Grant Type: Pilot
  • Research Type: Translational
  • Primary Tumor Site: Pancreas
  • Area of Inquiry: Diagnostic, Biomarkers


The goal of Dr. Singhi’s pilot project grant is to characterize gene expression changes that occur in pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors as they metastasize to other organs. The project’s two-phase approach will not only evaluate the tumor but also the surrounding tumor microenvironment.  

What critical NET problem/question will researchers try to answer?

Dr. Singhi and his colleagues believe their proposal will lead to the identification of specific gene expression changes that can predict the prognosis of a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor and potential targets for treatment. 

Why is this important?

Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors are the second most common pancreatic malignancy and are increasing in prevalence. The 5-year survival of patients who have these neoplasms is highly dependent on the metastatic spread to other organs. Identifying markers that can predict metastasis is therefore of utmost importance. Moreover, these markers may represent potential targets to improve the care for these patients.

What will the researchers do?

The study conducted by Dr. Singhi and his research team involves a two-phased approach. The first is an analysis discovery phase of 120 patient specimens. The second phase of the study will involve a validation cohort of 338 patient specimens where near single-cell analysis will be performed to identify markers of prognosis and potential treatment.

How might this improve treatment of NETs?

The wealth of knowledge gained through the research team’s approach is expected to lead to a comprehensive characterization of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors with a focus on identifying specific differences between metastatic and non-metastatic neoplasms. These differences have the potential to represent novel targets for future treatments. 

What is the next step?

The next steps of our study will be to validate our findings in a prospective fashion in a CLIA/CAP accredited laboratory as a clinical test to improve patient care.

Additional Details

  • City: Pittsburgh
  • State: Pennsylvania
  • Country: United States
  • Grant Duration: 1 year
  • Sponsor: Karpus Family Foundation


NETRF funds laboratory research to understand the development of neuroendocrine tumors and translational research to explore new concepts in treatment. Research grant descriptions and research updates from NETRF are not intended to serve as medical advice. It can take years for research discoveries to be fully validated and approved for patient care. Always consult your health care providers about your treatment options.

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