Grants - Washington - Translational (Robin Roberts Thrivership) - 2020

Ulrike Peters, PhD

Supported by Bristol-Myers Squibb through the Robin Roberts Cancer Thrivership Fund

Colorectal cancer starts in the large intestine. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women in the US. Alaska Native people have among the highest rates of colorectal cancer in the world. Alaska Native people also die more often of this disease than any other racial or ethnic group in the US. The reasons for these health disparities are not fully understood.  

Almost no research exists on molecular changes in Alaska Native colorectal cancer tumors. In this study, we will look at the genes expressed in these tumors. Genes code for proteins which support normal cell function. Changes to genes may result in abnormal growth of the cells resulting in cancer. Studying gene expression tells us which genes in the tumor may be causing the cancer and will help us understand more about the patterns of gene expression among Alaska Native colorectal cancer patients. We will also examine if tumor gene expression can tell us which patients will live longer with their cancer. 

This research will help to identify colorectal cancer patients with aggressive disease at diagnosis. This could help to guide clinical decision making and improve disease outcomes. Also, this research may tell us if Alaska Native colorectal cancer patients might benefit from available or new treatments.