Developmental Research Program (DRP)

Robert L. Ferris, MD, PhD, FACS, Co-Director
Jennifer Grandis, MD, FACS, Co-Director
Jonas T. Johnson, MD, Co-Director

The Developmental Research Program (DRP) will continue to be carried out for the purpose of identifying and facilitating innovative new pilot projects in head and neck cancer research.

The Specific Aims of the DRP are to:
Aim 1: Provide seed funding opportunities for initial investigation of promising novel research in head and neck cancer;
Aim 2: Stimulate basic, clinical, and translational head and neck cancer research in areas of high priority to the Head and Neck Cancer SPORE;
Aim 3: Facilitate development of pilot projects into full project status in the Head and Neck Cancer SPORE or to be competitive for independent investigator-initiated proposals to other funding agencies; and
Aim 4: Increase the visibility of Head and Neck Cancer SPORE activities and increase participation among the institution’s clinicians and researchers.

Drs. Jennifer R. Grandis, Robert L. Ferris, and Jonas T. Johnson, and all with ongoing experience in administering this Developmental Program, will continue to provide leadership for this program to foster translational head and neck cancer research. The DRP Directors track the progress of the successful applications and assign mentors to funded investigators to ensure that they obtain any needed services from the SPORE Cores and that they are effectively integrated into the SPORE program. Awardees present their research results to the SPORE investigators after one year of funding to be eligible for a second year of support. Progress toward translation as well as impact and innovation will determine whether DRP projects are found to merit promotion to full SPORE projects.

The DRP will continue to utilize institutional web-based resources to solicit proposals from the research community at the University of Pittsburgh. A standing DRP Committee, together with ad hoc reviewers with specific expertise as needed drawn from the Hillman, SPORE Internal & External Advisory Boards, and other SPOREs at Hillman and/or other Head and Neck SPOREs will continue to provide rigorous and consistent peer review of the project proposals. Proposals will be solicited and reviewed on an annual basis. These activities of the DRP will continue to stimulate innovative research toward meeting the translational goals of the SPORE: reduction in the incidence, morbidity, and mortality from head and neck cancers.