Dr. Robert F. Vizza Lustgarten Clinical Accelerator Initiative (CAI)

The Clinical Accelerator Initiative (CAI) reduces the time from clinical trial concept to launch using a Lustgarten-developed process based on the best available science and employing innovative biomarkers. These “smarter” clinical trials generate large volumes of data scientists use to help inform and improve current and future clinical trials and expedite new treatments.

CAI studies are typically small, enrolling 10-20 patients, enabling the researchers to deeply analyze each patient and extract the most information possible.

Studies include:

  • Evaluation of the Mechanism and Efficacy of IL-15 superagonist-based neoadjuvant chemo-immunotherapy for pancreatic cancer
    • Principal Investigator: Dafna Bar-Sagi, PhD, NYU Langone Health
    • March 1, 2023-February 28, 2026
    • Award Budget Total: $1,977,282
  • A Phase 2 Trial of FOLFIRINOX plus Eganelisib in Patients with Borderline Resectable Pancreatic Cancer
    • Principal Investigator: Andrew Lowy, MD, FACS, UC San Diego Health Moores Cancer Center
    • Award Budget Total: $1,317,161
    • March 1, 2023-February 28, 2025

  • Phase Ib/II, open-label, multicenter, randomized study evaluating the safety and efficacy of ‘switch maintenance’ combination immunotherapy using TIGIT/PD-1 co-blockade + CD40 agonism in patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer
    • Principal Investigator: James Cleary, MD, PhD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
    • Award Budget Total: $1,494,315
    • August 1, 2022-July 31, 2025

  • Targeting the Myeloid-stromal Compartment to Enhance Vaccine Induced T Cell Responses 
    • Principal Investigator: Dung Thi Le, MD, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins Medical Institution
    • Award Budget Total: $1,865,182
    • June 1, 2021-May 30, 2025

  • A Phase II Study Of FOLFIRINOX Combined With The GSK-3 ß Inhibitor 9-ING-41 and The TGF-ß Inhibitor Losartan In Patients With Untreated Metastatic Adenocarcinoma. 
    • Principal Investigator: Colin D. Weekes, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital
    • Award Budget Total: $1,500,000
    • November 1, 2021-October 31, 2024

  • Targeting the Immunosuppressive Tumor Microenvironment of Pancreatic Cancer with a Neoadjuvant Platform Clinical Trial 
    • Principal Investigator: Lei Zheng, MD, PhD, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University
    • Award Budget Total: $1,694,315
    • June 1, 2021-May 31, 2024


The TAG drives the success of the CAI by identifying, soliciting, vetting, and developing new clinical trial concepts based on the best available science.  

TAG members include:  

Elizabeth Jaffee, M.D.
Johns Hopkins
Professor, Deputy Director, Comprehensive Cancer Center

James Abbruzzese, M.D.
Duke University
Professor of Medicine, Chief, Division of Medical Oncology

Lisa Coussens, Ph.D.
Professor, Associate Director for Basic Research

Christina Ferrone, M.D.
Massachusetts General Hospital
Associate Professor, Director, MGH Liver Surgery Program

Christine Iacabuzio-Donahue, M.D., Ph.D.
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Director, Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research

Joseph Herman, M.D.
Northwell Health
Director, Clinical Research

Alec Kimmelman, M.D., Ph.D.
NYU Langone Medical Center
Professor and Chair, Department of Radiation Oncology

Jennifer Knox, M.D.
Princess Margaret Cancer Centre
Professor of Medicine, Co-Director of the McCain Centre for Pancreatic Cancer

Dan Laheru, M.D.
Johns Hopkins
Professor of Oncology

Andrew Lowy, M.D.
Professor of Surgery

Anirban Maitra, M.B.B.S.
MD Anderson
Professor of Pathology Deputy Division Head for Academic Science

Bob Vonderheide, M.D., D.Phil.
University of Pennsylvania
Professor, Director Abramson Cancer Center

Brian Wolpin, M.D., MPH
Associate Professor, Director, GI Cancer Center, Co-Director, Pancreas and Biliary Tumor Center

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