Kenneth Warren Fellows 2020/2021

IHPBA and the IHPBA Foundation are delighted to announce that we have been able to award two Kenneth Warren Fellowships for 2020/21.

The 2020/2021 Kenneth Warren Fellowships have been awarded to Dr Daniel Pietrasz from the Paul Brousse Hospital, France and Dr Tommaso Pollini from the University of Verona, Italy.

Dr Daniel Pietrasz
The objective of Dr Pietrasz' study is  the evaluation of preoperative ctDNA as marker of surgical futility in patients with resectable PAC.

CtDNA will be analyzed by NGS and two specific methylated biomarkers assessment.

Incidence of pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PAC) increases continuously. At day, the local involvement and curative resectability of PAC are determined by imaging, most often by CT-scan, also used to evaluate the response and tumor restaging. However, the diagnosis accuracy of CT in these aims is strongly debatable. Indeed, early recurrence (<6months) is reported in 15 to 25% of resected patients, which proves the imperfect assessment of micrometastatic disease with the current image-guided staging methods, and an overly surgical approach. In this context, identification of molecular markers in peripheral blood is a promising and credible pathway in patients with PAC. Circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) is one of the most promising biomarkers.

The hypothesis is that there is no benefit for upfront surgical approach if ctDNA is preoperatively detectable.

This work will be led by the Istituto del Pancreas (Verona, Italy) and Paul Brousse Hospital (Villejuif, France). Dr Pietrasz will work under the mentorship of Professor Claudio Bassi.

Dr Tommaso Pollini
The objective of Dr Pollini’s Kenneth Warren Fellowship is to identify a comprehensive biosignature to predict the development of Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma in Pancreatic Cystic Neoplasms (PCNs). Cyst fluid will be analyzed, building on previously published work, and the identified biosignature will be validated on a microfluidics high-throughput platform.

Despite their large prevalence, the management of PCNs still relies on radiological features, that have a low specificity in identifying malignant lesions, leading to the resection of benign or low risk lesions.

Cyst fluid analysis have already been used to identify several markers associated with the progression of PCNs with a higher specificity compared to available guidelines. Still, no validated biosignature has been included in the management of PCNs.

Further aims of this research project are to recapitulate the assay in a validated murine model, where in vivo interventions can be performed, and to test actionable genetic targets on patient-derived organoid.

This study will be led by the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), with the support of the IPMN International Cyst Fluid Collaborative. Dr. Pollini will be working under the mentorship of Prof. Ajay V. Maker, associate professor of Surgery at the department of Surgical Oncology at UIC.

We would like to congratulate Drs Pietrasz and Pollini on their achievement and wish them both all the best with their projects.

The IHPBA Foundation is extremely grateful to the CGF E Alexander Stent Fund, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee, for their generous grant funding which has allowed us to offer these fellowships.    

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