Research Grants

Collaboration is essential to the success of any research program.  The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation chooses its grant recipients carefully to ensure that they will be willing build working relationships between researchers, institutions, and industry and share information, samples, and expertise with others in the field.

International Hepatobiliary Neoplasia Biorepository

2013 Award:
2013: $41,607
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

Dr. Lewis Roberts, MB, ChB, PhD
Mayo Clinic

To support the collection of clinical information and biospecimens from patients with hepatobiliary neoplasia

To accelerate research for early diagnosis, novel therapeutics, personalized oncology, and improved clinical outcomes for patients

To actively enroll fifteen centers into the study by the end of 2015

“Families can provide very powerful information on genetic variations that confer risk for cancer and the inlrobertsformation is usually transferable to the general population as well.  If there is a way to obtain DNA from as many family members as possible, both affected and unaffected, this would substantially enhance our research efforts.”

Dr. Lewis Roberts, MB, ChB, PhD

Mayo Clinic


>> Download the IHNB brochure

2012 Award:
University of California, San Francisco

Research Team:
Linda Ferrell (Pathology)
Katie Kelley (Medical Oncology)
Robert Kerlan (Interventional Radiology)
Alan Venook (Medical Oncology)

To obtain high quality biospecimens and data for UCSF and non-UCSF investigators

To develop a longitudinal biorepository of human tumor and blood specimens
To advance understanding of this rare and under-studied tumor type


  • To create a unique resource to enable future biomarker discovery and validation studies
  • To partner with researchers from other institutions by sharing biospecimens and data for high priority collaborative research efforts which are critical to advancing the field in this rare tumor type.

Young Investigator Award


The Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO Young Investigator Award (YIA) provides funding to promising investigators to encourage and promote quality research in clinical oncology. The purpose of this award is to fund physicians during the transition from a fellowship program to a faculty appointment. The Young Investigator Award is intended to support proposals with a clinical research focus on cholangiocarcinoma.


Award: 2012-2013: $60,000 American Society of Clinical Oncology

Researcher: Supriya Saha, MD, PhD Massachusetts General Hospital

Aim: To raise awareness and trigger progress against cholangiocarcinoma, while providing critical early funding for physician-scientists at the beginning of their careers

Purpose: To develop animal models, including gene mutations, to better understand cholangiocarcinoma in humans

Goal: To publish findings to promote interest in scientific community and encourage investigators to focus their careers on bile duct cancer

 “Even though thousands of new patients are diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma each year in the United States alone, many patients have only heard of the disease for the first time upon diagnosis.  Unfortunately, the lack of national attention and publicity that this important disease receives means that there are only very limited funding opportunities available.  The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation is playing an absolutely critical role, not only in reversing that lack of national attention but also in funding research specifically aimed at helping patients with this diagnosis.  The Young Investigator Award that I received has been critical in making our foundational efforts possible.  With this funding, we have compiled what we believe is the largest cholangiocarcinoma cell line bank in the world and implemented a collaborative effort to generate more cell lines that have been genetically characterized.   In addition to a number of other studies, we used these funds to hire technician support which effectively doubled our research efforts and allowed us to develop and characterize a new mouse model of cholangiocarcinoma that can be used both to understand the fundamental mechanisms that cause cholangiocarcinoma but also to rapidly test novel potential therapies against this disease.   We hope that our work, funded by the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation, will have a “multiplier effect,” encouraging other scientists to focus on biliary cancers as well as other philanthropic organizations to join the cause.   In short, I am extremely grateful to the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation for their absolutely critical support of our work.”   Supriya Saha, MD, PhD Massachusetts General Hospital

 “I am very grateful to the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation for supporting Dr. Supriya Saha through the Young Investigator Award.  Dr. Saha is an outstanding physician-scientist who has made a deep commitment to studying cholangiocarcinoma. He has developed an impressive series of model systems that are key to solving the biological and genetic processes that go awry during the progression of this cancer type. Dr. Saha has already made important insights into one of the major gene mutations found in cholangiocarcinoma patients.  With these insights and model systems in hand, he is poised to make the important next step of defining ways to combat this terrible disease. The support from the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation has been vital in helping him to create this impressive program.” Dr. Nabeel Bardeesy Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center


Award: 2011-2012: $57,500 American Society of Clinical Oncology Rocha,Flavio

Researcher: Flavio G. Rocha, MD, FACS Virginia Mason Medical Center

Aim: To raise awareness and trigger progress against cholangiocarcinoma, while providing critical early funding for physician-scientists at the beginning of their careers


  • To identify biomarkers (CEACAM6 ) that can be used for diagnosis, prognosis and as potential targets for the development of novel therapies
  • To collect fluid from bile ducts to compare the levels of tumor markers and their association with presence and extent of cholangiocarcinoma


  • To help place patients in the appropriate clinical trials.
  • To design better imaging tools
  • To develop new drugs to kill cancer cells

 “As a surgical oncology fellow at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, I became interested in the surgical management of cholangiocarcinoma but was discouraged by the minority of patients I could help with an operation. I realized that early detection is critical and that current diagnostic techniques were unreliable.  Therefore, I proposed to study proteins in the bile of patients with cholangiocarcinoma to identify novel tumor biomarkers.  With funding from an ASCO Young Investigator Award, I established a bile bank.   Upon moving to a faculty position at Virginia Mason, we identified a protein, CEACAM6, is secreted in significant quantities in the bile of cholangiocarcinoma patients compared to those with benign biliary disease.  It is currently being investigated as a tumor biomarker in a prospective clinical trial.  I was absolutely thrilled to develop a research idea from the laboratory to clinical application.  I am indebted to the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation for providing me with the initial support to launch my academic career and help find better treatments for cholangiocarcinoma patients.” Flavio G. Rocha, MD, FACS Virginia Mason Medical Center



Long-term International Fellowship (LIFe)

2011-2012: $60,000

Dr. Suebpong Tanasanvimon
University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center

To determine differences in genetic profiles due to the presence of liver fluke

To use microRNA expression patterns to investigate their relevance in cancer therapy and prognosis

To further the understanding of the etiology of cholangiocarcinoma

Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation Research Philosophy

Our objective is finding a cure.

  researchThis gives us a different perspective and informs our philosophy. We believe a cure relies on:

  • Research that provides essential resources and knowledge for the field (e.g. model systems, understanding genetic underpinnings, annotated patient specimens)
  • Innovative research that opens new pathways for diagnosis and drug discovery

We want our research dollars to make a difference

  • We support promising projects that are less likely to get traditional funding such as:
    • Seed funding that could yield breakthrough benefits for patients
    • High quality projects proposed by young investigators with demonstrated commitment to cholangiocarcinoma research
    • Foundational projects with an important but long-term payoff
  • Our research dollars should never substitute for or displace other funding (i.e. preference for new projects over existing well-funded efforts)
  • We prioritize proposals that aim on finding a cure

We believe we can find a cure together

  • We value research that involves and catalyzes collaboration
  • We value open-access research (rapid sharing of reagents and models with the research community)

Our goal is a rigorous, yet efficient, process to find and fund high quality projects

  • For rigor, all proposals must undergo a comprehensive peer-review
  • For efficiency, proposals need only provide sufficient detail to facilitate a peer-review