ThyCa News

ThyCa Awards 3 New Thyroid Cancer Research Grants to Researchers at Harvard and Dana Farber in USA, and University of Birmingham in UK


June 8, 2017—ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc. is proud to announce three new research grants for thyroid cancer research into complex aspects of all types of thyroid cancer: papillary, follicular, medullary, and anaplastic thyroid cancer. ThyCa has also awarded four continuation grants. 

The new ThyCa grants were awarded to researchers at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts; Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts; and University of Birmingham College of Medical and Dental Sciences, Birmingham, United Kingdom. In addition, ThyCa announced awards for continuation grants. 

This is the fifteenth consecutive year of ThyCa research grants. The grants are funded through donations to ThyCa from thyroid cancer patients, family members, and friends. ThyCa grants are open to researchers and institutions worldwide. An independent expert panel of the American Thyroid Association (ATA) reviewed applications and selected the recipients of these seven grants.  

The New ThyCa Grant Recipients and Projects: 

  • Glenn J. Hanna, M.D. Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, for the project titled “Correlating the Circulating Immune Profile with Response to Dual Immune Checkpoint Inhibition in Advanced Thyroid Cancer.” This project is applicable to advanced medullary thyroid cancer as well as differentiated thyroid cancer and focuses on identifying predictors or response or resistance to immune checkpoint two immune checkpoint inhibitors. Immune checkpoint inhibitors have demonstrated clinical benefit in a wide range of solid tumors. The research will profile the tumor microenvironment in immunotherapy-treated patients using multiparametric flow cytometry with the aim of correlating these findings with a novel, circulating immune checkpoint profiling assay. This grant is this year’s Ric Blake Memorial Thyroid Cancer Research Grant, named for ThyCa Co-Founder Ric Blake.
  • Jens Lohr, M.D., Ph.D., Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts for the project “Characterization of Treatment Response in Thyroid Cancer by cfDNA.” This project seeks to explore if “liquid biopsy: can be used as a tool to gain insight into the tumor biology of thyroid cancer, simply from a vial of blood, and ultimately translate these findings into new targeted therapies. The project aims to develop novel biomarkers that allow for early detection of resistance to the newer targeted therapies for thyroid cancer that is refractory to radioactive iodine. The research will determine the tumor fraction, copy number alterations and somatic mutations from tumor-derived cfDNA, and compare with the results from tissue biopsy.
  • Vicki Emma Smith, Ph.D., University of Birmingham College of Medical and Dental Sciences, Birmingham, United Kingdom, for the project titled “A New Molecular Switch in Thyroid Cancer.” This research will focus on a modified (phosphorylated) version of the PBF protein, as high PBF levels have been linked with more aggressive thyroid tumors and resistance to radioactive iodine treatment. The research will investigate the hypothesis that PBF-Y174 is a central thyroid signaling event that is dysregulated in thyroid tumors, in order to improve understanding of thyroid tumors and consider PDF phosphorylation as a potential new drug target for the treatment of thyroid cancer. 

The continuation grants were awarded to these researchers: 

  • Trevor Angell, M.D., Harvard Medical School, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, for the project titled “Assessment of Circulation Immune Suppressor Cells for Predicating Treatment Response in Follicular Cell Derived Thyroid Carcinoma.” 
  • Viswanath Gunda, Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, for the project titled “Combining Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors with BRAF Targeted Therapy in Thyroid Cancer.” 
  • Juan Nicola, Ph.D., National University of Cordoba, Cordoba, Argentina, is receiving a grant for his research on “Uncovering Na+/I- Symporter (NIS) interacting proteins: Implications for radioiodide therapy efficiency and diagnosis of radioiodide-avid thyroid tumors.” 
  • Nikita Pozdeyev, M.D., Ph.D., University of Colorado, Aurora, Colorado, for the project titled “Rational combination therapies with lenvatinib for advanced thyroid cancer.” This grant is the 2016 Ric Blake Memorial Thyroid Cancer Research Grant.

“We’re proud to award these new grants, which support research in areas important for all thyroid cancer,” said Gary Bloom, ThyCa Executive Director, who is a thyroid cancer survivor. “Thyroid cancer research urgently needs more support, because this cancer is one of the few in which mortality has increased in recent years. We greatly appreciate our donors, whose generosity all throughout the year makes possible these research grants.”

ThyCa’s research fund funds welcome contributions of any size. Information about how to support ThyCa’s Rally for Research can be found on the ThyCa Rally for Research page.

About ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc. 

ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc. is a nonprofit organization of thyroid cancer survivors, caregivers, and health care professionals, dedicated to support, education, communication, awareness, and thyroid cancer research funding. 

This year ThyCa is marking its 22nd year of providing a wide array of free services and resources to thyroid cancer survivors, families, medical professionals, and the public. These include thyroid cancer support groups in seven countries; one-to-one support available worldwide; educational events including seminars, workshops, webinars, and the annual International Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Conference; free publications including handbooks on all types of thyroid cancer, weekly online newsletter, downloadable low-iodine cookbook, a patient information packet, and thyroid cancer awareness materials; and pediatric backpacks with information kits for children and teens with thyroid cancer and their families. ThyCa’s educational web site has more than 850 pages in 9 languages: English, Chinese, French, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish. 

ThyCa receives guidance from its Medical Advisory Council of more than 50 world-recognized experts in the field of thyroid cancer. ThyCa sponsors Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month in September, a worldwide observance, plus year-round awareness campaigns, as well as, and the. Details are available on ThyCa's website or by calling 1-877-588-7904 or e-mailing