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The Commonwealth Medical College Awarded $1.25M NIH Grant for Breast Cancer Research

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Media contact:  Anne Green,
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Scranton, PA – The National Institute of Health (NIH) recently awarded The Commonwealth Medical College (TCMC) its first Research Project grant (R01) for $1.25M to fund breast cancer research. This is the second NIH grant awarded to TCMC since receiving Preliminary Accreditation just under a year ago.

The Research Project (R01) grant is one of the original grant mechanisms used by the NIH to award funds to support a specified research project in the investigator’s particular area of interest. The Commonwealth Medical College’s researchers, Daniel Flynn, PhD, Associate Dean of Research and Professor of Cell Biology, Principal Investigator (PI), and co-investigator, Jess Cunnick, PhD, Assistant Professor of Cell Biology, for the Research Project: “AFAP-110 as a cSrc activator in breast cancer,” were awarded the $1.25M grant for four year years to discover of a new treatment therapy that will manage tumors and prevent them from metastasizing.

Drs. Flynn and Cunnick have identified a protein in breast cancer cells that stimulates tumor cell invasion that causes them to metastasize to the lymph nodes or bloodstream. They will be working with a biotech company to manufacture a drug therapy that will prevent the cell protein from stimulating breast cancer. “If we can prevent cancer cells from moving and metastasizing, we can help oncologists and scientists understand why standard treatment therapies fail in some women,” stated Dr. Flynn. “If our work leads to a new treatment strategy to prevent a breast cancer from metastasizing, physicians will be better able to manage tumor development and cancer progression and this is good news for breast cancer patients,” Dr. Flynn continued. 

According to the American Cancer Society, 9,380 new breast cancer cases have been diagnosed in Pennsylvania in 2009 and, 2,070 women have died of breast cancer in the same year.   “Receiving our first Research Project grant from the NIH is a major achievement for a new medical college and demonstrates The Commonwealth Medical College’s commitment to establishing an active research program,” stated Robert D’Alessandri, MD, President and Founding Dean of The Commonwealth Medical College. “TCMC’s research program, comprised of nationally recognized researchers living right here in the community, is focused on finding more efficient treatments and therapies for diseases that affect the residents of Northeastern Pennsylvania,” Dr. D’ Alessandri continued.

To date, The Commonwealth Medical College has submitted over 70 research applications to the NIH and other research agencies and has received a total of 3.7 million in state and federal grant funding. 

Background Information: The Commonwealth Medical College, one of the nation’s newest medical colleges, welcomed its charter class of sixty-five medical students and Masters of Biomedical Sciences (MBS) students in August 2009. The College has campuses in Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Williamsport and currently has over 113 full time employees and over 557 clinical faculty members. For the academic years of 2009 and 2010, students will use temporary facilities on the Lackawanna College campus until construction of the new TCMC Medical Sciences Building is completed in April 2011. The Commonwealth Medical College is dedicated to training the next generation of physicians and scientists in a community-based model. Focusing on selecting students with a propensity for community service, the school’s unique structure is designed to provide these students with diverse clinical experiences from the very first day of their education. For information please go to

TCMC has been granted degree-granting authority from the Pennsylvania Department of Education and preliminary accreditation from the Liaison Committee of Medical Education. The Commonwealth Medical Education Corporation is an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE).