Wisconsin Surgery Faculty Receives Two-Year Grant Worth Over $500,000

Congratulations to Dr. Sean Ronnekleiv-Kelly from our Division of Surgical Oncology, who was recently awarded a two-year, $537,000 research grant from the Department of Defense Rare Cancers Research Program!

The study focuses on a deadly form of liver cancer called fibrolamellar carcinoma (or FLC), which typically affects adolescents and young adults. It also tends to occur in people who have healthy livers and thus is often not diagnosed until it has reached an advanced stage, making it much harder to treat. As a result, only 30-45% of people with FLC are still alive 5 years after their diagnosis. Better treatment strategies are needed, but they can be very hard to develop and study because there are so few patients with FLC. Dr. Ronnekleiv-Kelly and his colleagues believe that one way around this is to first conduct FLC research in animal models of the disease.

Dr. Sean Ronnekleiv-Kelly

To do this, the research team first plans to genetically alter mice to cause a form of FLC in the mice that very closely resembles FLC in humans. They then plan to target the cancer cells in these mice using a combination of cancer-killing drugs to identify new and effective multi-drug therapy. If successful, their efforts will not only result in methods that make it possible to better study FLC, but will also identify potential ground-breaking treatments for this rare but deadly disease.

Kudos on your research award, Dr. Ronnekleiv-Kelly!