Bladder Cancer Briefs January 11, 2023


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A New Era for Bladder Cancer Research

Dave DeGraff, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at Penn State and a bladder cancer researcher who has been involved with BCAN for more than ten years. He was first introduced to BCAN in 2011 as a John Quale Travel Fellow, receiving a grant that underwrote his travel and lodging to attend the BCAN Think Tank.

Dr. David DeGraff

It was after the 2011 Think Tank that David saw bladder cancer research, in his words, as “a great opportunity for discovery and improvement.” Before this, most of David’s research had been on prostate cancer. He noted that bladder cancer treatments had not advanced for many years. At the time, most patient options were chemotherapy, BCG treatments and/or bladder cancer removal.

Dr. DeGraff began to focus professionally on bladder cancer research, and just two years later, he received BCAN’s Young Investigator Award for his proposal to study bladder cancer tumorigenesis, the initial formation of a tumor in the body. David noted that BCAN’s initial grant allowed him to generate preliminary data that allowed him to secure another grant from the American Cancer Society. The second grant enabled him to continue the project that BCAN initially funded.

Degraff noted significant advances in bladder cancer treatments, such as the development and application of immunotherapy, using the body’s immune system to identify and destroy cancer cells. He also lauded bladder cancer patients as a critical part of the research team, including those who enroll in clinical trials to advance knowledge about the disease, to donors and benefactors who make research possible through their financial contributions.

Asked what he would like bladder cancer patients to know about the current state of medical research, Dr. DeGraff responded that “there are people thinking about bladder cancer all the time. There are exceptional individuals working to improve outcomes for patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” He added, “We’re at the beginning of a new era of finding treatments for bladder cancer.”

Resources for Patients and Families

Want to learn more about bladder cancer treatment? BCAN offers a tool to help patients and families compare different treatment options. You can also visit the Research Section on our web site to learn more about BCAN’s bladder cancer research and grant programs.