Moore Awarded $6.4 Million for Cancer Research

Issue Date: 
March 28, 2016

Patrick Moore has received the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Outstanding Investigator Award, a top honor given to accomplished cancer researchers, accompanied by $6.4 million to further his work into the link between viruses and cancer. 

Patrick MooreThe NCI grant, which recognizes exceptional past achievements, will provide seven years of secured research support, giving Moore freedom from the pressures of ongoing grant competition for research funding.

“The NCI Outstanding Investigator Award addresses a problem that many cancer researchers experience: finding a balance between focusing on their science while ensuring that they will have funds to continue their research in the future,” said Dinah Singer, director of NCI’s Division of Cancer Biology. “With seven years of uninterrupted funding, NCI is providing investigators the opportunity to fully develop exceptional and ambitious cancer research programs.”

Moore is a Distinguished Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics and the Pittsburgh Foundation Chair in Innovative Cancer Research in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He is also the director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute’s (UPCI) Cancer Virology Program. Together with his research partner and wife, Yuan Chang, Moore identified two different viruses that cause Kaposi sarcoma and Merkel cell carcinoma. Chang is the American Cancer Society Research Professor in Pitt’s Department of Pathology.

Moore’s award makes him the second UPCI researcher to receive the highly coveted recognition, which has been given to 60 cancer investigators in the country since the grant program was created in 2014. UPCI’s Thomas Kensler, professor of pharmacology and chemical biology and co-leader of UPCI’s Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Program, was awarded the honor last year.

“To have the NCI recognize not just one but two of our faculty really reflects the strength of our research here at UPCI,” said Nancy E. Davidson, director of UPCI and the UPMC CancerCenter. “We have a strong bench of talent here, and the work Dr. Moore is doing is making a real difference in our quest to end cancer.”

The NCI Outstanding Investigator Award was developed to provide investigators with substantial time to break new ground or extend previous discoveries to advance biomedical, behavioral, or clinical cancer research. 

The award will fund Moore’s research in three key areas:

 • Understanding the mechanism by which the virus that causes Merkel cell carcinoma turns normal cells into cancer;

• Investigating unusual ways that the virus causing Kaposi sarcoma makes oncoproteins, which can transform normal cells into tumor cells; and

• Identifying new ways to find viruses that cause cancer in humans.

Recently, the Chang-Moore lab found a new mechanism that cancer viruses use to regulate how cells translate RNA into proteins and developed an assay to discover a class of viruses called polyomaviruses.  

“I am hopeful this research will help provide new insights into methods to reliably determine the role of viruses in human cancers—and to uncover new common cancer pathways that are at work in both infectious and noninfectious tumors,” Moore said.