Dan Delitto, M.D., a surgical resident in the UF Department of Surgery, was awarded the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Loan Repayment Program (LRP) for funding by the NCI. The grant pays $70,000 toward the successful applicant’s student loans over a period of two years. As a result, it is highly competitive, particularly for grants from the NCI. According to its website, basic requirements for the program require the applicant to hold a doctoral-level degree from an accredited institution, have an educational debt equal to at least 20 percent of his or her base salary from the institution supporting the research, be conducting research funded by a domestic nonprofit or U.S. government, conducting qualifying research and be a U.S. citizen.
Under the mentorship of Shannon Wallet, Ph.D., associate professor for the UF department of oral biology, and Steven Hughes, M.D., associate professor and chief of the division of general surgery for the UF department of surgery, Dr. Delitto submitted a successful proposal to the NCI to delineate the role of inflammation in pancreatic cancer. With mortality rates largely unchanged over the past 50 years, pancreatic cancer is projected to be the second leading cause of cancer deaths by 2030. Dr. Delitto’s research focuses on defining the nature of the tumor immune microenvironment in the human condition along with interrogating the innate immune responses of primary human tumor-associated stroma and pancreatic cancer cells. Through the experiments proposed in his application, he will outline the mechanistic relationship between tumor-associated stroma, pancreatic cancer cells and the development of immune tolerance as it relates to clinical outcomes.
“The Loan Repayment Program is a highly competitive government funding instrument meant to reward meritorious individuals,” said Lyle Moldawer, Ph.D., professor and vice chairman for the UF department of surgery.“ Dr. Delitto’s award is a tribute to both his own progress and commitment to becoming a surgeon-scientist, as well as the Department’s commitment to educating the next generation of leaders in surgery.”