This month we honor our veterans on Veteran’s Day, and we would also like to highlight the work of Franklin Huang, MD, PhD, who has devoted his career to protecting our veterans, particularly those facing health and healthcare-resource inequities, from prostate cancer.
“It’s all about infrastructure,” says Huang, explaining that contributions, partnerships and a multidisciplinary approach are critical to success.
Huang understands the importance of funding and other resources to his success as a scientist. Last spring, he and his team were awarded a $2.5M grant from the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) to create a new Center of Excellence (COE) to combat prostate cancer in veterans. With this grant, they launched The Drew Foundation Precision Oncology Center of Excellence. Huang is also a principal investigator for the Respond Study, which is focused on disparities African-American men face, as they bear the burden of an increased risk of diagnosis and of death due to prostate cancer. The COE and the Respond Study are both funded by the PCF.
“The Prostate Cancer Foundation funding, along with the resources they bring, makes it possible for us to deliver on the promise of providing solutions for our veterans using data science,” says Huang. “We are bringing all of these elements together to find the right trials and treatments for our patients.”
Today, Huang is running two fascinating studies using precision medicine to support veterans by advancing prostate cancer treatments and improving patient outcomes.
Drew Foundation Precision Oncology Center of Excellence
Huang is the principal investigator of the new Drew Foundation Precision Oncology Center of Excellence. The center represents a collaboration between the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and the San Francisco Veterans Administration (VA) Health Care System (SFVAHCS).
According to the PCF, prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among veterans, representing about 30% of all cancers detected in that group. With the addition of the new center, the PCF has established more than a dozen COEs across the United States. Their ambitious goal is to save the lives of veterans with prostate cancer through advanced precision oncology treatments.
Earlier this year, Charles Ryan, MD, became president and CEO of the PCF. His career includes time at UCSF, serving as program leader for Genitourinary Medical Oncology where he held the title of Thomas Perkins Distinguished Professor in Cancer Research. He explained the value of working with the VA and the UCSF team, saying, “The PCF is committed to continuing to expand our partnership with the VA to advance cutting-edge research and care for veterans with prostate cancer. Partnering with the University of California, San Francisco, brings top expertise to our precision oncology efforts serving our nation’s veterans. UCSF researchers co-developed the latest FDA-approved PSMA-PET scan which zeroes in on prostate cancer that has spread through the body so it can be better targeted for treatment.”
Along with Huang, the multi-disciplinary UCSF team includes Nancy Greenland, MD, PhD, Matthew Cooperburg, MD, MPH, Thomas Hope, MD, Maren Scheuner-Purcell, MD, MPH, Sunny Wang, MD, and Samuel L. Washington, III, MD, MAS,
Huang is also an investigator for the Respond Study, which is focused on health disparities of African-American men compared to other populations, as this population faces an increased risk of diagnosis and of death due to prostate cancer. This multi-institutional study is funded by the National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Minority Health (NIMH), and the PCF.
As a data scientist, Huang investigates tumor sequencing to understand the genomic features of men with aggressive prostate cancer. Huang explains, “This will be one of the first times we integrate across different types of data to understand how they interact in contributing to advanced prostate cancer.”
Huang’s initial interest in science stems from having grown up with scientist parents with a passion for their work that influenced him deeply. Through his experiences at both the bench and the bedside, Huang has witnessed the challenges of delivering cancer care in resource-limited settings, and remains committed to addressing this issue. He says, “I am interested in using our best science to address the prostate cancer burden in our veterans. It is an incredible opportunity to work with scientists and clinicians on a shared mission to improve our treatments for patients and veterans.”
The Drew Foundation Precision Oncology Center of Excellence collaborators include
- Matthew Cooperburg, MD, MPH
Chief of urology at SFVAHCS, and professor and Helen Diller Family chair in urology, UCSF. He is also the chief for urology at the new Drew Foundation Precision Oncology Center of Excellence Matthew Cooperburg on Twitter
- Nancy Greenland, MD, PhD
Assistant professor of Pathology, UCSF
- Thomas Hope, MD
Associate professor of Radiology, UCSF; director, Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics, Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, UCSF; chief of Nuclear Medicine, SFVAHCS Thomas Hope on Twitter
- Franklin Huang, MD, PhD
Affiliate of UCSF Bakar Computational Health Sciences Institute (BCHSI), staff physician in oncology at The San Francisco Veterans Association Health Care System (SFVAHCS), and assistant professor, Department of Medicine, UCSF Franklin Huang on Twitter
- Maren Scheuner-Purcell, MD, MPH
Medical director of Cancer Genetics, Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center; professor, Department of Pediatrics, UCSF; staff physician, Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology-Oncology, SFVAHCS
- Sunny Wang, MD
Associate professor of Medicine, UCSF; chief, Division of Hematology and Oncology, SFVAHCS
- Samuel L. Washington, III, MD, MAS
Assistant professor of Urology and Goldberg-Benioff Endowed Professor of Cancer Biology, UCSF; staff physician in urology, SFVAHCS
About Franklin Huang, MD, PhD
Huang has a background in molecular biology, genetics, and global health, with specific training and expertise in cancer in resource-limited settings. Huang is a physician-scientist and a member of the Genitourinary Oncology division at UCSF Health Sciences. He serves as a mentor to students and trainees who are interested in cancer disparities, genetics, and global oncology. He is also the co-founder of Global Oncology.
To learn more about Franklin Huang and his work, visit UCSF Profiles.
About the Prostate Cancer Foundation
The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is the world’s leading philanthropic organization dedicated to funding life-saving prostate cancer research. Founded in 1993 by Mike Milken, PCF has been responsible for raising close to $1 billion in support of cutting-edge research by more than 2,200 research projects at 220 leading cancer centers in 22 countries around the world. Thanks in part to PCF’s commitment to ending death and suffering from prostate cancer, the death rate is down by 52 percent and countless more men are alive today as a result. The Prostate Cancer Foundation research now impacts more than 70 forms of human cancer by focusing on immunotherapy, the microbiome, and food as medicine. Learn more at pcf.org.
PRNewswire News Release May 25, 2021