Research Grants

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

Research Fellowship Program

In 2015, the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation launched its first Research Fellowship Program.  The goal is to raise awareness about cholangiocarcinoma and inspire innovative, quality research.



2018 Research Fellowship Recipients

2018 Tommy J. West Memorial Research Fellowship 

Role of PlGF/Nrp1 Pathway in Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma Cell Survival, Tumor-associated Fibrosis and Abnormal Vasculature

Amount: $50,000 

Researcher: Shuichi Aoki, MD, PhD – Harvard University

Aoki“PlGF/Nrp1 pathway is often activated in intrahepatic cholangiocarcinomas and is a potential mediator of the progression of these tumors. PlGF/Nrp1 promotes abundant extracellular matrix deposition (desmoplasia)—produced by CAFs—and formation of an abnormal vasculature in cholangiocarcinoma. We propose that anti-PlGF therapy could improve the delivery of chemotherapeutic agents and enhance the tumor immunity by reprogramming these microenvironmental abnormalities, and could also impact the clinical development of immune-checkpoint blockade in this intractable disease.”

Shuichi Aoki, MD, PhD
Harvard University


2018 Andrea Marie Fuquay Memorial Research Fellowship

Developing Organotypic Slice Cultures as a New Model System in Cholangiocarcinoma

Researcher: Iris Sze Ue Luk, PhD – Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Amount: $50,000 

Luk"We propose to use ’tumor slice cultures’ (TSCs) to evaluate the effects of new targeted therapies for the subset of cholangiocarcinomas with mutations in a gene called isocitrate dehydrogenase 1. Ultimately, the goal of this proposal is to establish TSCs as a new experimental system which can be used cancer centers world-wide to rapidly determine drug sensitivity of tumors from patients with cholangiocarcinoma."

Iris Sze Ue Luk, PhD
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center


2018 Andrea Scott Memorial Research Fellowship

Developing FGFR2 Degrader with PROTAC Technology to Target Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma

Researcher: Tinghu Zhang, PhD – Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Amount: $50,000 

Zhang"The altered activation of Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor 2 (FGFR2) has been found in many ICC patients. A selective FGFR2 inhibitor has not been discovered and non-specific FGFR2 inhibitors have shown toxicities mainly due to FGFR1 inhibition in clinical trials. We will explore the PROTAC (Proteolysis targeting chimera) technology with a pan-FGFR inhibitor to develop a selective FGFR2 degrader. Our study will have great potential in developing a novel therapeutic strategy to improve the outcome of ICC patients."

Tinghu Zhang, PhD
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute


2018 Jacques Dupont  Memorial Research Fellowship

Single-cell Immunogenomic Profiling of Neoantigen-reactive T Cells in Human Cholangiocarcinoma

Researcher: Chunhong Zheng, PhD – Providence Portland Medical Center

Amount: $50,000 

Zheng"Immunotherapies that harness the T-cell response against mutated neoantigens can mediate regression of cancers including cholangiocarcinoma, but there is large variability in efficacy between patients. My project is to characterize the molecular profiles of neoantigen-reactive T cells infiltrating cholangiocarcinoma using single-cell sequencing technologies, which may lead to the development of more effective T-cell based immunotherapies for patients with cholangiocarcinoma."

Chunhong Zheng, PhD
Providence Portland Medical Center


2017 Melissa Manza Memorial Research Fund

Targeting YAP as a Novel Therapeutic Approach for Cholangiocarcinoma

Amount: $50,000

Researcher: John Gordan, MD, PhD - University of California San Francisco

John Gordon"Biliary growth is regulated by the Hippo tumor suppressor pathway, but this control is disrupted in cholangiocarcinoma. My research aims to discover how this pathway interfaces with common oncogenic mutations in cholangiocarcinoma in hopes of finding therapeutic approaches to restore its function."

John Gordan, MD, PhD
University of California San Francisco


2017 Andrea Scott Memorial Research Fellowship

Identifying Therapeutic Strategies for FGFR inhibition in Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma

Amount: $50,000

Researcher: Lipika Goyal, MD - Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard University

Lipika Goyal"FGFR2 fusions are thought to be driver mutations in 10-20% of patients with intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, and selective FGFR inhibitors are showing promise for these patients. My project is to study genetic and non-genetic mechanisms of FGFR resistance with an eye towards identifying therapeutic strategies that can give patients longer term responses."

Lipika Goyal, MD
Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard University


2017 Elisabeth Dardenne Stefanini Memorial Research Fellowship

Trans-ABC06: Understanding the role of DNA-damage repair mechanisms in patients with cholangiocarcinoma: translational research in the context of the ABC06 randomised phase III clinical trial

Amount: $50,000

Researcher: Angela Lamarca, MD, PhD - The Christie NHS Foundation Trust

Angela Lamarca“This project will explore the prevalence of mutations in DNA-damage repair genes in tumour samples from patients diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma and their impact on patients’ outcome and response to platinum-based chemotherapy. Our results may be able to identify early on those patients most likely to benefit from platinum chemotherapy, in order to inform clinicians of the most suitable treatment selection.”

Angela Lamarca, MD, PhD
The Christie NHS Foundation Trust


2016 Innovation Award

Contribution of Hepatic Stellate Cells to Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma

Amount: $50,000

Researcher: Silvia Affo, Columbia University

Silvia Affo“With this project, I seek to elucidate the contribution of hepatic stellate cells to the desmoplastic stroma of cholangiocarcinoma. Hopefully this study will represent a breakthrough in understanding the biology of this tumor and will provide a rationale for targeting the tumor stroma in addition to the tumor cells themselves.”

Silvia Affo, PhD
Columbia University


2016 Andrea Marie Fuquay Memorial Research Fellowship

2-HG as a Biomarker in Patients with IDH-mutant Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma

Amount: $50,000

Researcher: Lipika Goyal, Massachusetts General Hospital

Lipika Goyal“The goal of the study is compare the performance of the novel biomarkers serum and urine 2-HG to the currently used serum biomarker CA19-9 in diagnosing, monitoring, and predicting survival in patients with IDH-mutant cholangiocarcinoma.”

Lipika Goyal, MD
Massachusetts General Hospital


2016 Andrea Scott Memorial Research Fellowship

A Hippo and Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor Autocrine Pathway in Cholangiocarcinoma

Amount: $45,000

Researcher: Sumera Rizvi, Mayo Clinic

Sumera Rizvi“Our goal is to gain a deeper understanding of the crosstalk between the oncogenic Hippo and FGFR signaling pathways in cholangiocarcinoma. We will investigate inhibitors directed against these pathways to determine if this results in a chemotherapeutic effect in our animal models of CCA.”

Sumera Rizvi
Mayo Clinic


2016 Christopher J. Wilke Memorial Research Fellowship

Metabolic Reprogramming by IDH Mutation in Cholangiocarcinoma

Amount: $50,000

Researcher:  Lei Shi, Massachusetts General Hospital

dsia“Metabolism to a cell is like gas to a car and much more complicated. With the generous support from the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation, I am excited to investigate the reprogrammed metabolism that fuels cancer cell growth and tumor formation in IDH mutated cholangiocarcinoma, which will allow us to develop novel metabolic drugs to improve treatment options and stop this notorious “car”.”

Lei Shi, PhD
Massachusetts General Hospital


2015 Innovation Award

A Balancing Act: Dysregulated Differentiation and Proliferation as a Novel Mechanism of Cholangiocarcinoma Formation

Amount: $60,000

Researcher: Chad Walesky, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

cwalesky“With the support of the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation, I will investigate the interplay of two molecular signals, WNT and HNF4α, which regulate the identity and growth of bile duct cells. I am extremely excited about the support of the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation, and am confident that our work can contribute to finding better treatment options for this devastating disease.”

Chad Walesky, PhD
Department of Medicine - Genetics Division
Brigham and Women's Hospital


2015 Andrea Marie Fuquay Memorial Research Fellowship

Implementation of Precision Medicine Approaches in Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma

Amount: $50,000

Researcher: Daniela Sia, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

dsia“Our study will explore the role of FGFR2 fusions in cholangiocarcinoma and develop minimally invasive screening approaches and robust platforms for the analysis of molecular biomarkers. We hope that our results will effectively fill the existing gap between the recent scientific discoveries and the first biomarker-driven clinical trials leading to a significant improvement of patients’ outcome.”

Daniela Sia, PhD
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai


2015 Andrea Scott Memorial Research Fellowship

Determining the Cellular Origins of Cholangiocarcinoma

Amount: $50,000

Researcher: Allyson Merrell, University of Pennsylvania

amerrellMy research will investigate the earliest events in cholangiocarcinoma formation to determine what cell types give rise to cholangiocarcinoma and if changes in cell fate induce cholangiocarcinoma. Understanding where and how cholangiocarcinoma develops will improve our understanding of cholangiocarcinoma development and in turn help us identify genetic targets for therapy.

Allyson Merrell, PhD
University of Pennsylvania


2015 Christopher J. Wilke Memorial Research Fellowship

Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor FGFR Family Gene Aberrations in Cholangiocarcinoma

Amount: $40,000

Researcher: Katsuyuki Miyabe, Mayo Clinic

kmiyabeIdentification of additional novel Fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) target aberrations and determination of their relative sensitivities will allow us to personalize the therapeutic options for patients with cholangiocarcinoma by selecting the specific FGFR inhibitor that is most likely to achieve a clinical effect, and therefore enhance patient outcomes.

Katsuyuki Miyabe, M.D., Ph.D.
Mayo Clinic


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