June 2010 Archives

Nobel Laureate, Mario Capecchi is 2010 Mike Hogg Awardee

capecchi.jpgMario R. Capecchi, Ph.D. will visit Houston and MD Anderson on Friday, January 14, 2011 to accept the Mike Hogg Award and deliver a lecture. Hosted by the MD Anderson Alumni & Faculty Association, the Award & Lecture are underwritten by the Mike Hogg Fund.

 

Dr. Capecchi, an HHMI Investigator is Professor and Chair in the Department of Genetics, the University of Utah School of Medicine.

 

A 2007 Nobel Laureate in Physiology and Medicine with Oliver Smithies and Martin Evans, Capecchi is best known for his pioneering work on the development of gene targeting in mouse embryo-derived stem (ES) cells. This technology allows scientists to create mice with mutations in any desired gene. The power of this technology is that the investigator chooses both which gene to mutate and how to mutate it. The investigator has virtually complete freedom on how to manipulate the DNA sequences in the genome of living mice. This allows scientists to evaluate in detail the function of any gene during the development or post-developmental phase of the mouse. His research interests include the molecular genetic analysis of early mouse development, neural development in mammals, production of murine models of human genetic diseases, gene therapy, homologous recombination and programmed genomic rearrangements in the mouse.

The Mike Hogg Lectureship is the most prestigious at MD Anderson Cancer Center.  The annual Mike Hogg lecture series began during Dr. R. Lee Clark's tenure and the initial organizer was Dr. Clark Griffin.  Nobel Prize winners who are still active in research are honored and invited to deliver a lecture as part of the award. 

 

The Mike Hogg Fund is dedicated to the support of medical research and education to providing "medicine and hospital care and attention for worthy and deserving persons" within the state of Texas. The fund was established in 1955 by Alice Nicholson Hanszen in memory of her first husband.

Final Steering Committee Meeting of the Fiscal Year

On July 8 at 11:00 a.m., the Alumni & Faculty Association Steering Committee will hold its final meeting of the fiscal year.  At this meeting, Dr. Elizabeth Bloom will be acknowledged and thanked for her service as the Chair of the Association.  See her comments in the "Message from the Chair."   Amendments to the bylaws will be presented and recommendations for new Committee members will be made.

CPRIT Awards $39 Million to MD Anderson

On June 18, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) announced 55 grants totaling more than $142 million. Of that funding, MD Anderson received $820,017 in prevention awards, $15.7 million in research awards and another $23.5 million for the Clinical Trial Network, which MD Anderson serves as the lead institution and Roy Herbst, M.D., Ph.D., professor, Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology as the principal investigator.

 

"We're pleased that the out-of-state reviewers and CPRIT officials recognize the caliber of our faculty and their research projects by funding these projects," says Provost and Executive Vice President Raymond DuBois, M.D., Ph.D. "This concludes the first year of CPRIT funding, and I'm pleased that MD Anderson was awarded almost $52 million. I know we'll continue to be competitive for future research dollars from the agency."

Research: Individual Investigator Awards

Nine awards totaling $12.5 million were given in this category. MD Anderson received three awards for a total of $6,838,693.

  • Elizabeth Shpall, M.D., professor, Stem Cell Transplantation
    $2,849,974, "Improving Cord Blood Expansion and Homing for Patients with Cancer"
  • Jeffrey Myers, M.D., Ph.D., professor, Head and Neck Surgery
    $2,528,196, "Comprehensive Analysis of Genetic and Epigenetic Changes in Oral Cancer"
  • Michelle Barton, Ph.D., professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
    $1,460,523, "TRIM24: a Dual Regulator of p53 and Estrogen Receptor"

Research: Training Awards

Seven awards totaling $17.6 million were given in this category. MD Anderson received one for $2,565,789.

"The Future of Cancer Research: Training Program for Basic and Translational Scientists," whose principal investigator is DuBois, will be an innovative training program designed to recruit and educate exceptional pre-doctoral, post-doctoral and undergraduate students, and position them for a career in cancer research. 

The CPRIT training program will instruct pre-doctoral students (CPRIT Scholars) and undergraduates in fundamental biological concepts in an environment where they can apply that knowledge to problems in cancer biology. The CPRIT Scholar Program will dovetail with a pioneering translational training plan for post-doctoral fellows (CPRIT TRIUMPH Program) designed to provide Ph.D.-trained scientists with the skills necessary to lead a translational cancer research program.

Research: Scientific Recruitment Awards

Seven awards totaling $16 million were given in this category. MD Anderson received two awards for $5.5 million.

  • Li Ma, Ph.D., assistant professor, Experimental Radiation Oncology (from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
  • Jessica Tyler, Ph.D., professor ad interim, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (from the University of Colorado School of Medicine)

Research: Multi-Investigator Research Awards

Eight awards totaling $54.6 million were given in this category. MD Anderson received one award for $23,533,433.

The overarching goal of the Texas Cancer Clinical Trials Network, CTNet, is to develop a cancer clinical trial network across the state to improve the quality of care for patients, provide access closer to home and increase the pace of clinical oncology research enabling the Phase I/II study of novel cancer therapies with the most modern tissue and imaging biomarkers.

The most significant bottleneck to improving cancer care and outcomes is timely completion of and access to clinical trials. CTNet's vision is to create a network for cancer clinical trials across the state that uses the combined intellectual strength of academic and community institutions in Texas to enhance access to cancer-related clinical trials for all Texans. In addition to MD Anderson, CTNet will engage seven other sites in the first year:

  • Baylor College of Medicine
  • Texas Children's Cancer Center
  • Mary Crowley Cancer Research Center
  • Texas Oncology
  • Texas Tech University Health Science Center School of Medicine Cancer Center
  • The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
  • The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

CNET plans to add three additional sites in the second year:

  • The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
  • The University of Texas at El Paso
  • To be determined

An additional three sites will be added in the third year to conduct six to eight well-chosen therapeutic studies.

However, CTNet will begin immediately to initiate developmental projects that will be aimed at engaging underserved rural, suburban and urban areas throughout the state in clinical trials awareness, education and outreach activities designed to increase access to clinical trials for all citizens of the state.

Prevention: Health Care Professional Education and Training Awards

Eight awards totaling $2.6 million. MD Anderson received three awards for $820,017.

  • Carol Dallred, advanced practice nurse, Nursing Extramural Programs
    $250,127, "Cancer Screening Education for Nurses in Rural or Medically Underserved Areas of Texas"
  • Bana Arun, M.D., associate professor, Breast Medical Oncology
    $271,359, "Increasing Primary Care Provider's Competence for Identifying and Managing Persons at Increased Breast Cancer Risk: A Professional Oncology Prevention Program"
  • Lewis Foxhall, M.D., vice president for Health Policy
    $298,531, "Integrated Professional Oncology Curriculum for Texas Primary Care Providers: Enhancing Care and Quality of Life for Breast, Colon and Prostate Cancer Survivors"

Reflections on my Term as Chair

By Elizabeth Bloom, M.D.Dr. Bloom at Lin Acc-sm-cropped.jpg

As I approach the end of my term as chairperson of the MD Anderson Alumni & Faculty Association, I reflect on the amazing changes I have seen at MD Anderson Cancer Center and in the Alumni & Faculty Association over my tenure. When I entered the position in September 2007, the Alumni & Faculty Association was developing an online directory of our alumni under the leadership of Dr. Toya Candelari. We now have over 15,000 individuals in our database, and continue to search for lost members and their contact information.

For the first time in 2007, our Annual Houston Alumni Dinner included a silent auction to raise funds for a local organization within the community. In the case of 2007, the Houston Food Bank joined us, and in 2008, the American Red Cross.

In September 2009 came Hurricane Ike and a declining economy. Spending was curtailed not only within our Alumni & Faculty Association, but also within our institution, the Houston area, and around the nation. However, with challenges comes innovation. We have seen the development of the Center for Global Oncology within MD Anderson Cancer Center. This has brought MD Anderson faculty, staff, knowledge and research to Regional Care Centers in the surrounding Houston area, other facilities within the United States and in foreign countries. Most recently, MD Anderson Cancer Center has partnered with American Hospital in Istanbul, Turkey bringing MD Anderson faculty and staff to run their radiation oncology department.

Following suit, the Alumni & Faculty Association has now developed an International Subcommittee with the goal to have international chapters within the Alumni & Faculty Association. This idea was first developed by our previous Alumni & Faculty Association chair, Dr. Joya Chandra. We now have a first international chapter in Turkey, led by Dr. Ugur Selek, Adjunct Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Department Chief of the Radiation Treatment Center at American Hospital. This first chapter was able to be developed through the collaboration of Global Oncology, Physician Relations, the Alumni & Faculty Association, and MD Anderson alumni living in Turkey. We hope to develop and grow additional chapters at our sister institutions. The international collaboration among alumni and faculty of MD Anderson can further our institution's mission to eliminate cancer in Texas, the nation and the world.

Another first came with the recipient of the Mike Hogg Award for 2009, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn. She was the first female to be presented with this award in its 50-year history. Earlier this year, she was received with a standing-room-only audience in the Hickey Auditorium and two overflow auditoriums, where her award and lecture were simulcast. Although selected for the Mike Hogg award prior to the news, she was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her co-discovery of telomerase. She has done significant research investigating stress and its effect on telomerase and telomeres.

Throughout my term as chair, the Alumni & Faculty Association has maintained an emphasis on the support of educational trainees and students of both MD Anderson Cancer Center and the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Our major fundraising is for education. The Education Fund supports several awards programs, which are a tradition at MD Anderson, such as the Trainee Excellence Awards, Trainee of the Quarter Awards and Trainee Research Day Awards. We have plans to fund undergraduate scholarships and fellowships for graduate trainees, as well. As always, we encourage contributions to this fund.

Alumni member donations will be acknowledged on a new display that is scheduled to be installed in the Pickens Academic Tower this summer. The display will also feature our Distinguished Alumnus Awardees.

I have enjoyed my term as chair of the MD Anderson Alumni & Faculty Association. I look forward to my continued participation in this exciting time at MD Anderson, not only in Houston but around the world.

The MD Anderson Alumni & Faculty Association is pleased to announce the winners of the Abstract and Poster Competitions of Trainee Research Day 2010. Over 200 abstracts were submitted in seven categories. Forty four faculty members participated as reviewers.

1st Place Abstract Winners:

AMGEN Award, Basic Science Research, Kakajan Komurov, Ph.D.
Mentor: Prahlad Ram, Ph.D.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Award, Clinical/Translational Research, Angela Bartley, M.D.
Mentor: Stanley Hamilton, M.D.

Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Award, Population/Patient-Oriented Research, Vivek Subbiah, M.D.
Mentor: Joseph Ludwig, M.D.

MD Anderson Alumni and Faculty Association Graduate Student Award in Basic Science, Fanlin Kong
Mentor: David Yang, Ph.D.

MD Anderson Alumni and Faculty Association Graduate Student Award in Clinical/Translational Research, Evan Cohen
Mentor: James Reuben, Ph.D.

New Category for 2010

MD Anderson Alumni and Faculty Association Graduate Student Award in Population/Patient-Oriented Research, Arvind Bambhroliya
Mentor: Abenaa Brewster, M.D.

MD Anderson Alumni and Faculty Association Undergraduate Award for Research, Mrudula Rakhade
Mentor: Dolores Lopez-Terrada, M.D., Ph.D.

2nd Place Abstract Winners:

AMGEN Award, Basic Science Research, Mohammad Hossain, Ph.D.
Mentor: Shinako Takada, Ph.D.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Award, Clinical/Translational Research, Christina Michaelis, M.D.
Mentor: Steven Sherman, M.D.

Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Award, Population/Patient-Oriented Research, Kathrin Milbury, Ph.D.
Mentor: Cindy Lynn Carmack-Taylor, Ph.D.

MD Anderson Alumni and Faculty Association Graduate Student Award in Basic Science, Joseph Caruso
Mentor: Khandan Keyomarsi, Ph.D.

MD Anderson Alumni and Faculty Association Graduate Student Award in Clinical/Translational Research, Lisa Shiue
Mentor: Madeleine Duvic, M.D.

MD Anderson Alumni and Faculty Association Undergraduate Award for Research, Ramya Muddasani
Mentor: Vicki L. Hopwood

Poster Competition Winners:

AMGEN Award, Basic Science Research
Jill Butler, Ph.D.
Defining a role for Ash2L in regulating MLL-mediated leukemogenesis
Mentor: Steven A. Curley, M.D.

Abhinav K. Jain, Ph.D.
P53 promotes differentiation of Human Embryonic Stem cells: a novel role for p53 as an anti-pluripotency factor
Mentor: Michelle C. Barton, M.D., Ph.D.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Award, Clinical/Translational Research
Fuliang Chu, Ph.D.
In vitro and in vivo effects of CT-011, a humanized anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibody, in combination with rituximab against human B-cell lymphomas
Mentor: Sattva S. Neelapu, M.D.

Filip Janku, M.D., Ph.D.
PIK3CA, KRAS and BRAF mutations in patients with advanced cancers treated with PI3K/AKT/mTOR axis inhibitors
Mentor: Razelle Kurzock, M.D.

Kristin Turza Campbell, M.D.
Biomaterials for Ventral Hernia Repair: In Vivo Fibrovascular Remodeling and Mechanical Repair-Site Strength Data Translates into Optimization of Biomaterial Use in Cancer Patients with Complex Abdominal Wall Defects
Mentor: Charles E. Butler, M.D.

Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Award, Population/Patient-Oriented Research David Hui, M.D.
Availability and Integration of Palliative care at US cancer centers
Mentor: Eduardo Bruera, M.D.

Shannon N. Westin, M.D.
Persistent obesity among endometrial cancer survivors: A teachable moment?
Mentor: Diane C. Bodurka, M.D.

MD Anderson Alumni and Faculty Association Graduate Student Award in Basic Science
MyLing Duong
LMW-E induces tumorigenesis by enriching for cells with CSC properties
Mentor: Khandan Keyomarsi, Ph.D.

MD Anderson Alumni and Faculty Association Graduate Student Award in Clinical/Translational Research
Katrina Salazar
TAZ as a regulator of mesenchymal transformation and clinical aggressiveness in gliomas
Mentor: Kenneth D. Aldape, M.D.

New Category for 2010
MD Anderson Alumni and Faculty Association Graduate Student Award in Population/Patient-Oriented Research
Yong Cui
Differential Startle Cue Reactivity in Light and Heavy Smokers
Mentor: Paul M. Cinciripini, Ph.D.

MD Anderson Alumni and Faculty Association Undergraduate Award for Research
Vinh Ngo
Circadian control of energy homeostasis
Mentor: Peter Hu, Ph.D.

New for 2010
Cancer Survivorship Poster Award
Shannon N. Westin, M.D.
Persistent obesity among endometrial cancer survivors: A teachable moment?
Mentor: Diane C. Bodurka, M.D.

Congratulations to our winners!