American Thyroid Association Awards Research Grant to Viswanath Gunda, Ph.D, Massachusetts General Hospital

Viswanath Gunda, Ph.D.Supported by ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc. and ATA

The American Thyroid Association (ATA) is pleased to announce that Viswanath Gunda, Ph.D., is the recipient of a 2016 ThyCa Research Grant for his project entitled “Combining Immune Checkpoints Inhibitors with BRAF Targeted Therapy in Thyroid Cancer.” Dr. Gunda is an Instructor in Surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA.

This project explores emerging combinatorial approaches to treating thyroid cancer that target oncogene mutations such as BRAFV600E or kinase pathways such as VEGFR and include an immunotherapeutic component designed to stimulate the body’s natural defenses to recognize and kill tumor cells. Dr. Gunda’s proposal focuses on understanding the role of the immune checkpoint receptors PD-1/PD-L1 in thyroid cancer, and studying the potential for inhibitors of these checkpoint receptors to have synergistic effects when combined with MAPKinase inhibitors and multi-kinase VEGFR inhibitors.

Checkpoint receptors are proteins present on the surface of T-cells that prevent these immune cells from destroying cancer cells. Tumors exploit these checkpoints to evade the immune system and escape detection. Dr. Gunda will study the effectiveness of anti-PD-1 and anti-PD-L1 antibodies in blocking the checkpoint receptors and allowing for immune system recognition and elimination of tumor cells in an immunocompetent mouse model of anaplastic thyroid cancer. Bio

Dr. Motoyasu Saji, Chair, ATA Research Committee says, “The ATA research grant program has been supporting young scientists in various thyroid-related research area, including clinical, translational, and basic areas. Every year we receive over 50 Grant applications from various countries. We excite to see young thyroid researchers, who attack current clinical problems and basic scientific questions using state of art technologies, new ideas, and new views.Many current leaders in the ATA were award recipients and this tells us how this program is important for us. We hope that this grant will be one of gateway to succeed in carrier as thyroid researchers and they will become leaders in next generation in the ATA. Finally, we appreciate all supports from members and various organizations, including cancer survivors, to make us possible creating excellent program.”

The American Thyroid Association (ATA) has awarded 85 thyroid research grants totaling over $2.2 million since the inception of the Research Fund. In addition, the ATA rigorously manages the selection of research projects and distribution of over $1.8 million generously donated to the ATA specifically for research grants from ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc. (ThyCa) and Bite Me Cancer.  The ATA supports all administrative and financial oversight for the research grant program. For information on other research grants underway and funded by the ATA, see

ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc. has provided funding in support of 60 special research grants totaling $1,680,000 focused on thyroid cancer and medullary thyroid cancer since 2003. ThyCa is supporting three research grants in 2016 and three renewing grants. ThyCa is a member of the ATA Alliance for Patient Education. Find out more at

Bite Me Cancer (BMC) is our newest grant funder supporting five thyroid cancer grants since 2014 for a total of $143,750. BMC will be supporting a new thyroid cancer grant in 2016 and one renewing grant. BMC is a member of the ATA Alliance for Patient Education. Find out more at


The American Thyroid Association (ATA) is the leading worldwide organization dedicated to the advancement, understanding, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disorders and thyroid cancer. ATA is an international individual membership organization for over 1,700 clinicians and researchers from 43 countries around the world, representing a broad diversity of medical disciplines. It also serves the public, patients and their family through education and awareness efforts.

Celebrating its 94th anniversary, ATA delivers its mission through several key endeavors: the publication of highly regarded monthly journals, THYROID, Clinical Thyroidology, VideoEndocrinology and Clinical Thyroidology for the Public; annual scientific meetings; biennial clinical and research symposia; research grant programs for young investigators, support of online professional, public and patient educational programs; and the development of guidelines for clinical management of thyroid disease.

More information about ATA is found at