Colorectal and Gastric Cancers

Current Projects
Peter M. K. Westcott, PhD

Dr. Westcott is developing improved in vivo models for studying the complex interactions between colorectal cancer and the immune system. The powerful genome editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 will be leveraged to rapidly generate a suite of novel mouse models of colorectal cancer harboring distinct mutational signatures seen in human cancer. He will use genome-wide sequencing and preclinical studies to dissect the role of these mutational signatures in promoting cancer cell detection by the immune system, and in modulating response to immunotherapies. These studies will provide new tools to probe fundamental questions of tumor immunology, with the ultimate goal of improving the poor response of colorectal cancers to immunotherapies.

Project title: "Exploiting endogenous mutational processes in cancer to enhance response to immunotherapy"
Institution: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Award Program: Fellow
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): Tyler Jacks, PhD
Cancer Type: Colorectal
Research Area: Animal Models/Mouse Models
Heather L. Yeo, MD

The cost of gastrointestinal cancer care in older adults is high, and hospital readmission after major GI cancer surgery can be particularly costly. The Center for Medicare Services (CMS) estimates that around 75% of these readmissions are preventable. For these patients, early warning signs for dehydration, infection, or other complications, if noted earlier, would allow physicians to intervene and prevent readmission. Dr. Yeo, a surgeon, has worked with programmers from Cornell Tech Campus to develop a Mobile Application (iPhone or Android compatible) for patients undergoing abdominal cancer surgery. The app tracks patients’ mobility and prompts patients to input quantitative and qualitative data regarding pain, fluid status and dietary factors in order to allow physicians to intervene earlier as needed. She is currently piloting the app for feasibility and usability, and improving the user interface so that physicians can use the app to monitor and improve patient care. The next step is a prospective randomized study to evaluate the utility of this mobile app in the prevention of readmission, thus enhancing physician-patient interactions, decreasing costs and, most importantly, improving patient care.

Project title: "Use of mobile applications to evaluate post surgical recovery in aging patients with GI cancer"
Institution: Weill Cornell Medicine
Award Program: Clinical Investigator
Sponsor(s) / Mentor(s): Manish A. Shah, MD, and Deborah Estrin, PhD
Cancer Type: Gastric, Other Cancer, Colorectal, Pancreatic
Research Area: Outcomes Research
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