An Indian-origin scientist in the US, Ms. Nisha D'Silva has been awarded a USD 8.1 million grant to support her research on lethal head and neck cancer, which could help improve the survival rates of patients. She has received the prestigious Sustaining Outstanding Achievement in Research (SOAR) award, for her continuing research into the molecular pathways that control the spread and recurrence of head and neck cancer.
D'Silva noted that head and neck cancer is the sixth-most common cancer in the world with about 600,000 new cases per year. Her findings may enable clinicians to identify patients who will best respond to existing treatments, and might lead to new treatment strategies.
SOAR provides long-term support for National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)-funded investigators who are in mid-career and have outstanding records of research productivity, mentorship and professional service to the research community. According to NIDCR, "This award provides a longer base of grant support, allowing investigators to have more freedom to perform high- risk, high-reward research that has the potential to break new ground or expand previous discoveries in new directions”.The ultimate goal of the research by Ms. D'Silva, clinician- scientist at the University of Michigan (U-M) in the US, is to improve the survival rates of patients with this particularly lethal form of cancer. Ms. D'Silva is the Donald Kerr Collegiate Professor of Oral Pathology and Professor of Dentistry, and is associate chair in the Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine. She is also professor of pathology at the U-M Medical School and a member of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center. Importantly, she is one of four researchers across the US whose research is being funded by 2017 SOAR grants. "My research has been enhanced through interdisciplinary collaborations with great colleagues from several schools at the university," she said.