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Currier Scholars: Moving Science from Laboratory to Clinic

Currier Scholars: Moving Science from Laboratory to Clinic

Precision medicine holds promise to improve outcomes for individual patients.

Kerrington Smith, MD
Kerrington Smith, MD (Chief, Surgical Oncology; left) and Peter Kaufman, MD (Hematology Oncology; right) are appointed as Steven B. Currier Clinical Oncology Scholars for their excellence in clinical research and impactful scientific progress,

Congratulations to Norris Cotton Cancer Center’s Kerrington Smith, MD (Chief, Surgical Oncology) and Peter Kaufman, MD (Hematology Oncology) for being named as this year’s Steven B. Currier Clinical Oncology Scholars.

The Steven B. Currier Fund for Clinical Oncology Scholars supports the research of clinical oncology faculty engaged in translational research, that is, the process of moving laboratory discoveries into a clinical setting, where effectiveness can be assessed. Drs. Smith and Kaufman have exhibited the leadership in developing and accruing to important clinical trials, and the commitment to clinical research that is a key strength of our Cancer Center. Their research and scientific progress has a positive impact upon our scientific community at large and contributes significantly to the process of discovery in cancer research.

“The Steven B. Currier Clinical Oncology Scholar award will allow us to conduct a trial to evaluate the effectiveness of targeted therapies for pancreatic cancer” said Smith. “We can generate xenograft models from patients’ pretreatment biopsy specimens, profile the tumor models through DNA sequencing and pathology and evaluate the efficacy of targeted therapies for actionable mutations versus standard-of-care chemotherapy. No two patients’ tumors are exactly the same and therefore precision medicine holds promise to improve outcomes for individual patients. One of the challenges to translating molecular data from patient biopsies into clinical practice is the difficulty with obtaining enough clinically relevant tumor tissue for analysis and the inability to evaluate multiple therapeutic options for individual patients while they are still alive. Our studies will allow multiple therapies to be evaluated and compared. Our current biobank contains over 24 distinct patient-derived xenograft models and we are actively acquiring tumor tissues for generation of new models.”

Dr. Kaufman will use the support for furthering several new and ongoing research projects.  “It is a great honor and privilege to have been awarded the Norris Cotton Cancer Center’s Currier Scholarship!  I have been working closely with NCCC laboratory scientist, Dr. Todd Miller studying conventional hormonal therapies for estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer, and the critical issue of what leads to the development of resistance to standard hormonal therapies in these ER+ breast cancers.  We have recently developed a clinical trial that will test some of these important lab findings from Dr. Miller’s group and allow us to better understand how to improve therapies for patients with ER+ metastatic breast cancer.  I am also working with Drs. Shudong Jiang, Brian Pogue, and Keith Paulsen, further expanding on prior work we have done evaluating Near Infrared Spectroscopic Tomography as a technology to better monitor how patients undergoing chemotherapy are, or are not, responding to their treatment.  The Currier Scholarship support will also help my collaborations in translational research with the EPR (Electron Paramagnetic Resonance) center at Dartmouth, and specifically work with Drs. Harold Swartz and Periannan Kuppusamy in assessing the clinical importance and impact that oxygen levels have on how both chemotherapy and radiation treat breast cancer.”

We greatly appreciate the support of Jane and Phil Currier in establishing this Fund.