ThyCa News

ThyCa Awards New Thyroid Cancer Research Grants


July 9, 2018—ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc. is proud to announce five new research grants for thyroid cancer research into complex aspects of all types of thyroid cancer. ThyCa has also awarded two continuation grants. 

This is the sixteenth 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 three new grants plus two continuation grants. The recipient of a fourth new grant was selected by an independent expert panel of the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons (AAES). The fifth grant was awarded by the Team Taylor fundraiser to a researcher at Duke University.

"We're extremely honored by our donors' support, which makes it possible for ThyCa to fund this urgently needed thyroid cancer research," said Gary Bloom, ThyCa Executive Director, who is a thyroid cancer survivor. "There is a great need for more thyroid cancer research, because this cancer is one of the few in which mortality has increased in recent years." 

The New ThyCa Grant Recipients and Projects: 

Grants in cooperation with the American Thyroid Association: 

  • Wayne Miles, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Ohio State University School of Medicine, Columbus, Ohio. His project is titled “Proteomic-led Discovery of Essential Genes in Medullary Thyroid Cancer (MTC).” It focuses on how cancer cells adapt to the loss of the Retinoblastoma 1 (RB) tumor suppressor gene and which of these changes contribute to the survival and growth of MTC cells. This grant is a collaborative grant from ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc., and Bite Me Cancer.
  • Miles Miller, Ph.D., Investigator, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts. His project is titled “Co-opting Tumor-associated Macrophages in Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer (ATC) To Enhance Immune Checkpoint Blockade Response.” It will use advanced microscopy approaches to understand how macrophage subsets influence drug response in ATC, with the goal of aiding strategies for combination therapy, antibody engineering, and patient selection.This grant is this year’s Ric Blake Memorial Thyroid Cancer Research Grant, named for ThyCa Co-Founder Ric Blake.
  • Brendan Frett, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas. His project is titled “Dual Inhibition of RET and Aurora B To Study the Simultaneous Regulation of Multiple Oncogene Pathways in Medullary Thyroid Cancer.” It will involve generating single-agent inhibitors of both RET and Aurora B to better target thyroid cancers expressing a RET oncogene.  

Grant in cooperation with the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons:

  • Lawrence Andrew "Drew" Shirley, M.D., M.S., Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio. His project is titled "Integrin-Linked Kinase Facilitates Communication Between Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts and Immune Cells in Papillary Thyroid Cancer." The project will examine the role of cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) in thyroid cancer, because the critical role of CAFs in other cancers is well understood, but their role in thyroid cancer is largely unknown. Dr. Shirley's research aims to assess their role in thyroid cancer in order to uncover new markers and targets for new treatments for patients with papillary thyroid cancer who fail traditional treatments and lack alternative therapies. 

Grant in cooperation with Team Taylor of North Carolina:

  • Heather Stapleton, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. Her project is titled “Investigating Environmental Exposures and Papillary Thyroid Cancer.” This multidisciplinary project will focus on Iredell County, North Carolina, because this county is indicated in the North Carolina cancer registry to have a higher thyroid cancer incidence than other counties in the state. The research effort will focus on chronic indoor exposure through dust or the water system, to chemicals associated with coal ash and to flame retardant chemicals that have previously been associated with papillary thyroid cancer. 

The continuation grants were awarded to these researchers:

  • 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 grant is the 2017 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.”  

“We’re proud to award these new grants, which support research in areas important for all thyroid cancer,” said Bloom 

ThyCa’s research fund funds welcome donations 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 marks its 23rd 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; one-to-one support; educational events including the annual International Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Conference plus seminars and workshops; free handbooks on thyroid nodules and all types of thyroid cancer, weekly newsletter, downloadable low-iodine cookbook, patient information packets, and thyroid cancer awareness materials; and pediatric backpacks with information kits for children and teens with thyroid cancer and their families. ThyCa’s comprehensive educational web site has information in 10 languages: English, Chinese, French, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, 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. ThyCa also raises funds for thyroid cancer research and has awarded research grants each year since 2003. 

Details are available on ThyCa’s website or by calling 1-877-588-7904 or e-mailing