BCAN Announces $600,000 in Funding to Accelerate Breakthroughs in Bladder Cancer Research

Awardees Recognized for Creative Approaches to Accelerate Progress in Bladder Cancer Research

(Bethesda, MD) The Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) announced today the recipients of its prestigious 2023 Research Innovation Awards. These awards honor exceptional researchers who have demonstrated remarkable dedication and innovative approaches in the field of bladder cancer research.

Picture of Dr. Christopher Garris
Dr. Christopher Garris

This year’s recipients are Christopher Garris, PhD, BS, an Assistant Professor of Pathology at the Center for Systems Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital, and John Taylor, MD, MS, Professor of Urology and Co-Leader of Drug Discovery Development and Experimental Therapeutics at the University of Kansas Medical Center Research Institute, Inc. These highly competitive grants, providing $300,000 over a two-year period, contribute to the $6 million in research grants awarded by BCAN to date to address critical barriers, acknowledge gaps, and improve outcomes for bladder cancer patients.

The need for research is urgent: the National Cancer Institute estimates that there are more than 712,000 people living with bladder cancer in the United States. Moreover, it is projected that in 2023, over 82,000 individuals will be diagnosed with bladder cancer, and sadly, more than 17,000 will succumb to this devastating disease.

“BCAN is thrilled to fund Dr. Garris’s and Dr. Taylor’s groundbreaking proposals. The Research Innovation Awards empower high-risk, high-reward projects that hold the potential to unlock future breakthroughs to help bladder cancer patients and those who love them,” stated Andrea Maddox-Smith, Chief Executive Officer of the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network. “We express our heartfelt gratitude to BCAN’s generous donors and corporate partners, whose contributions help create more and better tomorrows for patients.”

Dr. Garris’s project proposes to use a novel method to target and reprogram myeloid cells, a type of suppressive immune cell in a bladder cancer tumor, to improve a patient’s response to immunotherapy. Myeloid cells in the tumor microenvironment play a crucial role in the effectiveness of BCG immunotherapy for bladder cancer, a common treatment.

Headshot of Dr. John Taylor
Dr. John Taylor

Dr. Taylor’s project aims to translate the observation of reduced cancer risk in individuals with Down syndrome into a novel drug discovery model using mouse models. Data has shown that individuals with Down syndrome have a lower risk of dying from solid cancers, including bladder cancer. While this finding is not well understood, this proposal will take steps to develop a model for understanding cancer resistance.

Dr. Taylor is a translational researcher with a lab that pursues novel drug discovery and therapeutics for bladder cancer. He has enjoyed extramural grants and philanthropic donations since 2005. In addition, he is engaged in clinical trials exploring new therapeutics for the treatment of bladder cancer. Dr. Garris investigates the roles of dendritic cells in cancer immune surveillance and response to immunotherapy and is an immunology researcher specializing in cancer.

The Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network’s (BCAN’s) mission is to increase public awareness about bladder cancer, advance bladder cancer research and provide educational and support services for the bladder cancer community.

Contact:  Mark Story
Director of Communications and Marketing