Four researchers from the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC have received $2.74 million in R01 funding from the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health for their project to develop a microengineered colorectal cancer-on-chip model.

They are Shannon Mumenthaler, PhD, who’s an assistant professor of medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC; Dan Ruderman, PhD, assistant professor of research medicine; Heinz-Josef Lenz, MD, professor of medicine and the J. Terrence Lanni Chair in Gastrointestinal Cancer Research; and Scott E. Fraser, PhD, Provost Professor of Biological Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, and Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, who also has postings at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Their model, which uses patient biopsy material, is designed to create a clearer understanding of tumor progression and chemoresistance, with the ultimate goal of developing innovative treatment strategies. The funded project is part of NCI’s Cancer Tissue Engineering Collaborative.

The project description notes that “the 5-year survival rate for metastatic colorectal cancer (CRC) remains at 11% despite the introduction of novel therapies. Preclinical models that more closely recapitulate the human pathophysiology of CRC are needed to better understand tumor progression and chemoresistance.

“Our objective is to develop and characterize a microengineered CRC-on-Chip model using patient biopsy material to identify key factors in the tumor microenvironment that influence cell behavior and treatment response, with an ultimate goal of developing innovative treatment strategies effective in CRC that focus on disrupting tumor-stromal interactions.”

The project period began Dec. 1 and will continue through Nov. 30, 2025.