Grants - Translational Grants - Illinois - 2017

Lucy Godley, Ph.D., M.D.

Funded by the Dick Vitale Gala

In recent years, doctors and scientists have recognized that a person’s genetic make-up helps determine their risk for developing particular bone marrow derived cancers.  The bone marrow produces all of our blood cells, and the white blood cells that fight infection can be broken down roughly into two classes, myeloid cells and lymphoid cells.  Between these two main groups, the DNA changes that confer risk for developing cancers are best defined for myeloid blood cancers, whereas DNA changes associated with lymphoid blood cancers largely remain to be discovered.  Drs. Godley, Leavitt, and Wiemels have formed an interdisciplinary team to fill this void.  Drs. Godley and Leavitt are hematologists who work directly with patients and families with clustering of lymphoid cancers, and Dr. Wiemels is an epidemiologist who works with large population-based data sets and blood samples to understand factors that put groups of people at risk for disease.  Collectively, their work has shown that Hispanic patients are particularly susceptible to developing lymphoid cancers and are more likely to suffer poor outcomes.  Drs. Godley and Leavitt have already identified variants in several genes that appear to confer particular risk for developing lymphoid cancers, and these provide a starting point for the proposed studies.  The team will be focused in Chicago and California, areas with large Hispanic populations, with the ultimate goal of using genetic risk factors to optimize therapy for patients and to develop preventive strategies to avoid cancer development in high-risk individuals.