Stanford Cancer Institute

Shmunis Family Innovation Awards in Cancer Therapeutics

March 2023

Steven Corsello, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine (Oncology), was awarded a $50,000 Shmunis Family Innovation Awards in Cancer Therapeutics award for his project entitled “Harnessing an E3 ligase for pancreatic cancer therapy.” Dr. Corsello is a physician-scientist and medical oncologist, and his laboratory operates at the intersection of functional genomics and chemical biology with the goal of advancing novel molecular mechanisms of cancer inhibition to clinical use.

Pancreatic cancer is a devastating disease: 5 years after diagnosis, only 11% of patients are alive. New strategies are urgently needed—but developing a new drug from scratch can take upwards of a decade, with disappointing historical success rates. To enable the discovery of new therapeutic opportunities at scale, Dr. Corsello employed a pooled method to efficiently test thousands of existing drugs for their ability to kill hundreds of diverse models of human cancer. Candidate drug mechanisms were elucidated with functional genomic screens. He discovered E3-targeting compounds with potent activity against pancreatic cancers. Through the support of the Shmunis Family Innovation Awards in Cancer Therapeutics award and a collaborative effort across the Stanford Cancer Institute, Dr. Corsello aims to determine the mechanism-of-action and therapeutic potential for E3-targeting compounds using the latest laboratory methods. The success of this project will elucidate a new cancer vulnerability and enable a pancreatic cancer clinical development program.