The Sandler-Kenner Foundation, an Irving-based organization dedicated to supporting pancreatic cancer research, has announced it will donate $500,000 over several years to a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist.

Suresh Chari, who also serves on the foundation’s scientific advisory board, will use the grant to support his work in finding a strategy for early detection of pancreatic cancer in patients over the age of 50 with new-onset diabetes. Chari’s study will make use of 15 years of research in the link between diabetes and pancreatic cancer, as well as observations of pancreatic cancer in Mayo Clinic patients.

Using a database of 150,000 patients, Chari plans to perform lab tests and endoscopic ultrasounds in patients with a blood glucose greater than 125 and a weight loss of five pounds or more. The strategy will be able to reveal tumors as little as 3 mm in size. With a prognosis that has not improved in the past 50 years, members of the Sandler-Kenner Foundation are eager to support Chari’s new approach.

“This is the first screening program for sporadic pancreatic cancer that is being conducted anywhere in the U.S. or internationally,” said Vay Liang W. Go, a professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and member of the foundation’s scientific advisory board.

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