In 2021, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs honored Wael El-Rifai, M.D., Ph.D., co-leader, Tumor Biology Program and associate director of Program Development at Sylvester.
The award provides seven years of support to but a few scientists nationwide who are international leaders in their specialties and have established track records in cutting-edge research.
The same year, the VA awarded Dr. El-Rifai with its four-year Merit Award, which he will use to expand his research in H. pylori infection and gastric cancer.
“Understanding the tumorigenic mechanisms of H. pylori infection positions us to identify, develop and test novel therapeutics that are relevant to the biology of this disease. In this Merit Award, we will focus on studying the role of inflammation and fibroblast growth factors in the biology of gastric carcinogenesis, as well as test novel inhibitors that target these pathways,” he said. “The Miami VA Health care system serves our veteran population in South Florida. Sylvester’s catchment area is home for a highly diverse community, with 60% of the population originating from South America and the Caribbean, where H. pylori infection is endemic and gastric cancer incidence is the highest worldwide.”
The VA-funded research will be the first to investigate the role of H. pylori induced inflammation in induction of fibroblast growth factors signaling in gastric tumorigenesis.