Two Stony Brook Researchers Selected to Receive SUNY RF Awards Announced by Gov. Cuomo
Orlando Scharer investigates targeted cancer therapy; Joanne Davila’s expertise on close relationships key in search to treat negative consequences of stress
STONY BROOK, NY, September 26, 2013 – In an announcement released September 25 by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, seven research projects involving 10 SUNY campuses will each receive up to $100,000 from the SUNY Research Collaboration Fund, which supports research collaborations among campuses as part of the SUNY system’s strategic plan, The Power of SUNY. The projects involve two Stony Brook University researchers who are among SUNY faculty selected to receive the SUNY and Research Foundation (RF) 2013 Research Collaboration Fund Awards – Orlando Scharer, PhD, Professor of Pharmacological Sciences and Chemistry, and Joanne Davila, PhD, Professor of Psychology.
“Not only does the SUNY system provide quality, affordable higher education opportunities to New Yorkers – but it is also an engine of research and development to increase innovation and grow our economy in New York State,” Governor Cuomo said. “The projects receiving awards today showcase a wide range of areas being explored in campuses across the SUNY system, and they all have potential to leave a positive and lasting impact on our health, environment and society. I applaud these award recipients and look forward to seeing their projects progress.”
“The broad range of SUNY’s scientific research is reflected in these awards and we will continue to incentivize cross-campus collaboration to promote the strength of working together as a system,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “Congratulations to the campuses, faculty, and students involved in these promising research projects.”
“The scope, scale, and diversity of SUNY’s research portfolio are on full display with the announcement of these awards,” said Dr. Tim Killeen, president of the Research Foundation for SUNY and SUNY’s vice chancellor for research. “Collaborative research invites industry interest and entrepreneurial opportunity that lead to innovation, new business, jobs, and public benefit. We congratulate each of the fund recipients for their visionary work.”
“These awards foster important collaboration among faculty at Stony Brook and other SUNY campuses to advance research in a variety of important scientific disciplines,” said Samuel L. Stanley, Jr. MD, President of Stony Brook University. “This is a promising exercise in bringing the best minds in SUNY together without the restriction of institutional boundaries, and I’m encouraged with each new announcement as more research initiatives are funded.”
The purpose of the SUNY Research Collaboration Fund is to support collaboration among researchers and students across SUNY’s campuses in order to enhance the collective impact of their work and ability to advance science, innovation, and economic prosperity in New York State.
At Stony Brook, Dr. Scharer will work with SUNY colleagues to advance targeted cancer therapies and Dr. Davila will collaborate with SUNY colleagues on how to treat the negative consequences of stress.
Dr. Scharer and researchers at the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany are embarking on a nanotechnology-enabled research project that will provide the basis for identifying cancer patients who will respond well to specific chemotherapeutic regiments, thus promoting personalized medicine for the treatment of ovarian and other forms of cancer.
Dr. Scharer’s Stony Brook laboratory is investigating Cisplatin, one of the most successful antitumor drugs. Certain types of tumors show resistance to the drug, thereby making therapy ineffective. One of the main mechanisms of resistance to Cisplatin is through the repair of DNA adducts formed by cellular mechanisms.
“To date it is not possible to distinguish the different types of adducts in tumor samples to determine which adduct is associated with resistance, and my laboratory is developing reagents that will be used to accurately make this distinction,” explained Dr. Scharer. “Our reagents will make it possible to establish ways to determine how different tumors respond to Cisplatin therapy. This would make it possible to select patients who would benefit from Cisplatin and others who would not, sparing some patients unnecessary side effects from the drug and allowing them to consider alternative treatment approaches.”
Dr. Davila will collaborate with researchers at Binghamton University and Upstate Medical University on a basic research project that may lead to the development of novel treatments that target the negative consequences of stress. The research team will develop an integrative genetic, developmental, and psychological framework that links social support and improved health outcomes to develop the treatment method.
As an expert on close relationships, stress and mental health, Dr. Davila will contribute to the project by examining how early interpersonal experiences and stressors, such as a poor early caregiving environment, may lead to unhealthy support processes and poor well-being among couples.
“We will investigate caregiving environments and how those environments may affect biological response to stress, particularly for people with certain genetic profiles and how they respond to supportive – or unsupportive – couple interactions,” said Dr. Davila.
This second annual round of Research Collaboration Fund awards attracted 77 proposals. Funded projects were selected through a rigorous peer-review process. Factors considered in the evaluation included: originality and significance of the research; student involvement; industry and other outreach efforts; and the ability to attract future federal, state, philanthropic, or private funding.
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