Pennsylvania, U.S.A. — Department of Health Secretary Dr. Eli N. presented on August 21 nearly $4 million in Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement Program, or CURE, grants to support two research projects focused on esophageal cancer treatment and advancing detection of abdominal aortic aneurysms.

The CURE program funds health research with the purpose of discovering new scientific knowledge to help improve the health of all Pennsylvanians.

These competitive grants focus on specific research priorities established and reviewed by the Department of Health in conjunction with the Health Research Advisory Committee, a panel made up of universities and research institutes.

The funds, allocated in the 2011-12 fiscal year, focus on projects that translate the information found within the human genome and support research that commercializes and brings to market new, proven cancer diagnostics or therapeutics.

Twelve projects statewide are receiving CURE grant awards totaling $15.3 million. Since the grant program’s inception, Geisinger Clinic has received nearly $5.2 million in CURE funding, part of the more than $750 million in total CURE awards.

“This is an exciting time in health research and we are confident this research will improve public health and help Pennsylvanians to live longer, healthier lives,” said Avila.

More information about the CURE program is found at the Department of Health’s website at

Overview of the funded projects and awards announced on August 21:

  • Geisinger Clinic: Utility of Genomic Data in Population Screening for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm ($2,909,969):

The project is using knowledge of genetic risk factors to improve screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), the 13th leading cause of death in the United States.

  • Geisinger Clinic: Diagnostic-Prognostic Testing in Patients at High Risk for Esophageal Cancer ($1 million):

The project is developing a test that predicts the risk of developing esophageal cancer in patients with chronic gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) and Barrett’s Esophagus.