Stanford Cancer Institute

SCI Women’s Cancer Center Innovation Award

March 2024

Alyce Adams, PhD, Stanford Medicine Innovation Professor and professor of health policy, epidemiology and population health, and Miriam Goodman, PhD, Mrs. George A. Winzer Professor of Cell Biology, were awarded an SCI Women’s Cancer Center Innovation Award for their proposal, “Detection & prevention of severe dose-limiting neurotoxicity among adults initiating breast cancer treatment: an interdisciplinary proof of concept study.” Adams studies racial and socioeconomic disparities in chronic disease treatment outcomes. Specifically, her research seeks to evaluate the impact of drug coverage policy on access to essential medications, understand the drivers of disparities in treatment adherence among insured populations, and test strategies for maximizing the benefits of treatment outcomes. Goodman studies the molecular events that give rise to the sensation of touch and temperature, using the nematode C. elegans as a model system, and develops devices for the study of sensory transduction. 

Nerve damage (neurotoxicity) is a common side effect of chemotherapy that can negatively impact cancer treatment and patient quality of life. There are three primary challenges to reducing neurotoxicity. First, clinicians cannot effectively identify which patients are at heightened risk for severe neurotoxicity prior to treatment. Second, we primarily monitor for symptoms only when patients come in for treatment. Lastly, no treatments have been approved by the FDA to prevent, alleviate, or cure neurotoxicity. Through the support of the SCI Women’s Cancer Center Innovation Award, this proposal brings together work from the labs of  Goodman and Adams to begin to tackle these challenges. Goodman’s lab has identified potential therapeutic targets for preventing neurotoxicity, including a protein called MAPK14, and Adams has developed a machine learning algorithm to identify patients at high risk for neurotoxicity. This proposal will examine the effects of a drug targeting MAPK14 in both patients and an animal model. The goal is to conduct a study to test whether inhibition of MAPK14 prior to the start of chemotherapy can prevent neurotoxicity in individuals at high risk for developing this condition, thus bringing insights from the work of both the Adams and Goodman labs to reduce negative side effects in cancer patients.