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Foundation for Health Advancement Awards Innovation Grant to Princeton Researcher Developing a New Class of Cancer Drugs to Treat and Cure Cancer


Foundation for Health Advancement (FHA) is excited to award an Innovation Grant to Sabine Petry, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University. Dr. Petry is addressing the well-known but urgent need for novel cancer drug targets and therapeutics. Current treatments and therapeutics often focus on stabilizing microtubules, major components of our cells’ structure. However, microtubules are also needed for cell division of healthy cells, and in fact also for all other processes in healthy cells, so these types of treatments can be toxic to the human body. Her “Treating and Curing Cancer” project will use the Innovation Grant funding to further develop a novel screen for cancer drug targets and use this screen to potentially identify novel cancer therapeutics.


Dr. Petry’s screening method is a significant improvement over the current screening methods since it does not rely on whole cells (which are limited by their cell membranes) yet takes place within a physiological environment. In addition, it is specific for cell division only (which would lead to less toxicity in healthy cells). This project has the potential to change the current standard of care for treating cancer, one of the most devastating diseases for human health - the International Agency for Research on Cancer estimates that there were 9.5 million cancer deaths and 17 million new cancer cases worldwide in 2018 alone [1].


Dr. Petry has an extensive background in structural biology, biophysics, biochemistry and cell biology and investigates the molecular architecture and function of the microtubule cytoskeleton. Her lab currently focuses on understanding how cells obtain their shape, position organelles, move materials, and segregate chromosomes during cell division. Her lab further combines biochemical, advanced light microscopy, and cell biological methods to examine the dynamic assembly of the microtubule cytoskeleton in its biological context, in this case under the influence of cancer.  “We had this idea for a while and are excited to finally start working on it thanks to the FHA Innovation Grant,” noted Dr. Petry.


[1] American Cancer Society Global Cancer: Facts and Figures Report (4th Edition)



About Foundation for Health Advancement

The Foundation for Health Advancement (FHA) is a Princeton, New Jersey based not-for-profit corporation that supports health-related research and education programs in New Jersey. FHA’s Innovation Grant Program was created to support early-stage technologies with strong market potential, for which additional proof-of-concept work, data collection, and/or prototyping could yield important information to make the technology more commercially attractive. These grants are available to researchers at FHA’s partner institutions which include Hackensack Meridian Health, Kessler Foundation, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Rowan University, Rutgers University, and Stevens Institute of Technology. FHA’s affiliate companies, New Jersey Health Foundation (NJHF) and Foundation Venture Capital Group (FVCG), also provide additional funding mechanisms to support New Jersey innovation.

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