Sylvester Researcher Awarded Endowed Chair in Solid Tumor Research

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In acknowledgement of his innovative research in prostate cancer, Sanoj Punnen, M.D., was awarded the Pap Corps Champions for Cancer Research Endowed Chair in Solid Tumor Research. The prestigious designation will run for five years at nearly $75,000 per year of funding and allows Dr. Punnen and team to expand the scope and  influence of their work.

“I was very thrilled," said Dr. Punnen, urologist and urologic oncologist at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Health System. “I was in clinic when I heard the news that Pap Corps put up a generous donation for the Chair.”

Sanoj Punnen, M.D., seated, is surrounded by the leadership team acknowledging his Endowed Chair in Solid Tumor Research.

Before the announcement, Dr. Punnen relied primarily on support from the National Cancer Institute, internal cancer center grants, and other sources to fund his research.

Punnen said the funding from from the Endowed Chair “will really help support much of the research we haven’t been able to do so far.”

Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., director of Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, said Punnen was a worthy recipient.

“A True Champion”

“He is a true champion committed to Sylvester’s mission, whose research, clinical care and leadership will undoubtedly impact our patients, and their families, for years to come,” Nimer said.

Dr. Punnen’s research focuses on prostate cancer detection and risk assessment.

“It's about figuring out who needs to be treated and who can be safely monitored, as well as the intensity of that treatment or monitoring,” said Punnen, who is also an assistant professor of Urology at the Miller School of Medicine. “Much of my work looks at imaging and biomarkers and how they play into that risk assessment.”

Dr. Punnen explained that “the bulk of the funding goes into conducting a trial and maintaining the data to answer the primary objectives of research, but most of the translational work we really want to do is left unfunded.”

“Thanks to the endowment from the Pap Corps Champions for Cancer Research, we now have the support we need to do this research, and we are really excited about it.”

The Pap Corps Champions for Cancer Research “is so proud to be the sponsor of the Endowed Chair in Solid Tumor Research headed by Dr. Sanoj Punnen,” said Susan Dinter, chair of The Pap Corps Board of Directors.

“Dr. Punnen’s work is vital in today’s world where prostate cancer is one of the leading cancers in men,” she added.

Collaboration Vital

Mentorship from Dipen J. Parekh, chief operating officer and chair of the Department of Urology, has likewise been essential in helping Dr. Punnen achieve the level of research success that led to the Endowed Chair.

Dr. Punnen credits a partnership between the institution, scientists he collaborates with such as Dr. Parekh, Radka Stoyanova, Ph.D., and Allan Pollack, M.D. Ph.D., and philanthropic organizations.

“The way we look at this is teamwork with Sylvester providing the support and the infrastructure, the researchers providing the science that moves the field, and organizations like Pap Corps providing their generosity and support to transform discoveries into practices that provide real patient impact,” he said.

For nearly 70 years, The Pap Corps’ 20,000 members have been committed to make its vision a reality. Because of this vision and their partnership with Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, “The Pap Corps enthusiastically applauds Dr. Punnen’s appointment to this Endowed Chair for Solid Tumor Research,” Ms. Dinter said.

Although the Pap Corps decision was based in part on Dr. Punnen’s previous work, it is also based on his potential.

“The Endowed Chair is really about the future,” he said. “It’s about supporting your research so it can lead to even better things.”

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