Columbia Receives $2.5M Quantum Collaboration Award from Hyundai Hope on Wheels

March 8, 2019

A team of researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) has recently been awarded a Quantum Collaboration award from Hyundai Hope on Wheels (HHOW). The five-year $2.5 million grant, funds research focused on childhood cancers with poor prognoses. The research team includes Andrea Califano, chair of Columbia’s Department of Systems Biology, Jovana Pavisic, MD, and Darrell Yamashiro, MD, PhD, director of pediatric hematology, oncology and stem cell transplantation, along with researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, and Dana-Farber Cancer Center. 

The Columbia team will target osteosarcoma, the most commonly diagnosed bone tumor in children and adolescents. No new treatment approaches have successfully been introduced for osteosarcoma in nearly 40 years, and patients with the disease have not benefited from recent breakthroughs like immunotherapy or DNA sequencing, so developing successful treatments requires a shift in understanding the disease and approaches to therapy.

The team will leverage novel cancer systems biology approaches developed by Dr. Califano, which model the cellular logic of cancer cells, using supercomputers to identify optimal treatment options for each patient. Their project will incorporate the use of Dr. Califano’s OncoTreat analytical platform, which identifies all the top master regulators of a tumor and uses actual drug perturbations to identify the individual drugs and/or drug combination that can revert their activity at once. 

The Columbia team will work to characterize the osteosarcoma-specific regulatory proteins, discover agents that will target them, provide preclinical in vivo validation, and a clear pathway forward to deploy OncoTreat in the clinic.