Cleveland Clinic physician-researcher Nima Sharifi, M.D. was recognized as a Top Ten Clinical Research Achievement awardee by the Clinical Research (CR) Forum, a national organization of senior researchers and thought leaders from the nation’s leading academic health centers.
Dr. Sharifi was selected for his research published in the October 2016 edition of The Lancet Oncology, which showed for the first time that patients with advanced prostate cancer are more likely to die earlier from their disease if they carry a specific testosterone-related genetic abnormality.
On April 18, the CR Forum hosted its sixth annual awards ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to recognize the Top Ten clinical research studies of the year. Winners were chosen based on the degree of innovation and novelty involved in the advancement of science; contribution to the understanding of human disease and/or physiology; and potential impact upon the diagnosis, prevention and/or treatment of disease.
Dr. Sharifi’s research found that a specific, inherited polymorphism – or inherited genetic change – in the HSD3B1 gene renders standard therapy for metastatic prostate cancer less effective. Men involved in the study were treated with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT, also known as “medical castration”), the standard of care for treatment of metastatic prostate cancer. While the treatment is widely successful in many patients, eventually prostate tumors are able to circumvent ADT, and patients become resistant to the treatment because the tumors make their own androgens.
“A simple blood test could allow us to personalize therapy by telling us which patients need to be treated more aggressively, such as with more intensive hormonal therapy,” said Dr. Sharifi. “On the contrary, patients with metastatic cancer who do not carry the polymorphism may fare better with ADT alone.”
Dr. Sharifi is on the medical staff in Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute Department of Cancer Biology, Glickman Urological & Kidney Institute, and Taussig Cancer Institute. He also holds the Kendrick Family Endowed Chair for Prostate Cancer Research.
The studies recognized by the CR Forum Wednesday reflect major work being conducted at nearly 60 research institutions and hospitals across the United States, as well as at partner institutions from around the world.
“The 2017 awardees represent the enormous potential that properly funded research can have on patients and the public,” said Harry P. Selker, M.D., MSPH, chairman of the CR Forum Board of Directors. “It is our hope that the significance of these projects and their outcomes can help educate the public, as well as elected officials, on the important impact of clinical research on human health.”
Members of the research team will visit congressional representatives on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, April 19, to brief officials on their findings and the critical and necessary role of federal funding for clinical research.
Dr. Sharifi’s work was supported by Cleveland Clinic, the U.S. Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, the Gail and Joseph Gassner Development Funds, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Physician-Scientist Early Career Award, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, an American Cancer Society Research Scholar Award, and additional grants from the National Cancer Institute (R01CA172382, R01CA190289, and R01CA168899).