The purpose of the Developmental Research Program (DRP) is to fund highly innovative translational studies in colorectal cancer (CRC) or pancreatic cancer (PDAC) that currently lack a human endpoint as mandated by the SPORE guidelines, but that could become full SPORE projects with requisite DRP support, or compete successfully for funding outside of the SPORE mechanism. The DRP provides a unique venue for making available critical financial support, as well as disease-specific intellectual and resource expertise, through a program that is rapidly responsive to new ideas or initiatives, including from investigators whose current work may not focus exclusively in CRC or PDAC research. This program is rooted in a spirit of collaboration espoused by the GI SPORE leadership, which has an extensive track record of bringing investigators from other disciplines into the field of CRC and/or PDAC research. The strength of the DRP rests in its ability to make available financial support needed to access all the critical expertise and resources within the entire GI SPORE, including the proposed Cores. This will allow us to develop innovative, investigator-initiated projects that have the potential to flourish into reliable and productive translational research projects along a path from basic and/or population research projects into research focused on human clinical specimens/patient populations. The DRP will be co- led by principal investigators of the SPORE including Dr. Anirban Maitra, the Scientific Director of the Sheikh Ahmed Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research, and Professor in the Departments of Pathology and Translational Molecular Pathology at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center (UTMDACC) and Dr. Scott Kopetz, Associate Professor and Deputy Chair for Translational Research in the Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology. The DRP will incorporate not only UTMDACC, but also our collaborating partner institution Johns Hopkins University (JHU) and other centers of excellence within the Texas Medical Center, providing an unprecedented seedbed for promoting innovative translational research projects in PDAC and CRC. Pre- proposals in the form of one page letters of intent (LOI) will be solicited by the Program, and following review by the DRP leadership, applicants of the responsive pre-proposals will be invited to submit a full proposal for review. The DRP Directors will help investigators submitting proposals to formulate translational research aims and plans relevant to the overall themes of the GI SPORE, as many applicants may not have prior expertise in this type of research. The overarching goal will be to facilitate research activities that will enable proposing a feasible human endpoint for future iterations of the funded proposal. This process will therefore be a major educational activity that is further anticipated to stimulate translational research in CRC or PDAC and encourage the participation of both basic science researchers and clinical investigators in translational research.
DEVELOPMENTAL RESEARCH PROGRAM: Narrative The Developmental Research Program (DRP) will support innovative and scientifically sound projects that investigate questions pertaining to translational research in colorectal and pancreatic cancer but which currently lack a human endpoint as defined by SPORE guidelines. This program will allow for the recruitment of new investigators into the gastrointestinal cancer research community and for the development of potential full projects for the Gastrointestinal Cancer SPORE.