The Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) are the cornerstone of the National Cancer Institute’s effort to promote collaborative, interdisciplinary translational cancer research. Each SPORE is focused on a specific organ site and is designed to enable the rapid and efficient movement of basic scientific findings into clinical settings as well as to determine the biological basis for observations made in individuals with cancer.

The Washington University SPORE in Pancreas Cancer is one of only three SPOREs in the nation. Pancreatic cancer is the 3rd leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Only 24% of pancreatic cancer patients survive >1 year from diagnosis, and only 9% live for 5 years. Siteman Cancer Center physicians evaluate and treat more than 3,000 pancreatic cancer patients per year.

Washington University’s Pancreas SPORE is designed to address the deadliest form of pancreatic cancer, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), by collaborating with multiple departments, programs and other institutions in interdisciplinary translational research. The Pancreas SPORE investigators have expertise in basic and clinical sciences, and individual expertise in immunology, drug development, genomics and imaging to develop novel therapeutic approaches to PDAC.


Our translational research program possesses both breadth and depth. Our team has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to translate basic science discoveries to therapeutic approaches. Recent examples of this ability include advances in our understanding of the tumor micro-environment (TME) or tumor-mediated immune suppression, which have successfully moved from discovery to preclinical models and ultimately into clinical trials. Our group has also successfully moved findings from the clinic back to the bench. For example, the rebound observed in other myeloid subsets when using CCR2 inhibitors led to testing of CCR2/5 inhibition in subsequent research efforts. The Washington University SPORE in Pancreatic Cancer at Siteman Cancer Center includes patients with all disease stages, and its trials are led by many investigators from multiple disciplines. The clinical program is well established and our growing reputation has facilitated academic and clinical partnerships, leading to numerous clinical trial opportunities. Over the last four years, pancreatic cancer patients have been enrolled in 103 studies, 41 of which are therapeutic clinical trials at Siteman.

The Pancreas SPORE includes four research programs, an administrative core and two shared resource cores, and research opportunities for collaboration including developmental research and career enhancement programs. Clinical trials are an important and active part of the Pancreas SPORE. The long-term goal of the Pancreas SPORE is to improve PDAC patient survival. To achieve this goal, our SPORE will collaborate both within Washington University and with external institutions. Our investigators expect no singular approach to solve PDAC and fully commit to supporting young investigators and evaluating new ideas. Our SPORE will provide access to pancreas cancer-specific resources to further this goal.

For any additional information about the Pancreas SPORE, please contact David DeNardo, PhD at [email protected] or Christina Kasting at [email protected].