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Researcher Garners Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Award

The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has awarded Dan Raz, MD, MAS, Co-Director of the Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program at City of Hope in California and an Assistant Professor of Thoracic Surgery, with one of its 2016 Clinical Scientist Development Awards.


The award recognizes physician scientists who are between 1 and 5 years into their first faculty appointments to support their transitions to independent research. A pool of 169 applicants underwent a rigorous review process by a panel of experts in the medical research field. Seventeen exceptional physician scientists received the award, which offers each recipient $495,000 over 3 years.

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Dan Raz MD, MAS. Dan... - Click to enlarge in new windowDan Raz MD, MAS. Dan Raz MD, MAS

Raz's research seeks to develop new therapies to overcome chemotherapy resistance that develops in most lung cancers. He researches the molecular changes in a cell that produce lung cancer tumors. The proposed study will look at the mechanisms behind elevated activity in the Wnt signaling pathway, which promotes lung cancer stem cells' proliferation, survival, and chemotherapy resistance. Specifically, the research examines why the WIF1 gene is suppressed in some non-small cell lung cancer. Understanding these mechanisms can lead to the development of therapies that restore WIF1 to function normally, decreasing Wnt activity and making lung cancer more responsive to chemotherapy.


Raz is also actively involved in research aimed at identifying and reducing barriers to early lung cancer detection, and improving the quality of life for lung cancer patients. He has authored dozens of articles, including studies demonstrating survival benefit for patients who choose lung cancer surgery. Raz is the recipient of several previous grant awards, including the National Institutes of Health's K12 Institutional Career Development Program, a Lung Cancer Research Foundation Award focused on increasing lung cancer screenings in the community, and the V Foundation for Cancer Research's V Scholar Award.


Promising Early-Career Scientists Receive Pancreatic Cancer Research Grants

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network awarded nine grants to outstanding scientists who will undertake novel research in the field of pancreatic cancer. Grant recipients are selected through a competitive peer-review process, and grantees receive professional support as part of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network's Community for Progress in conjunction with their funding.


The 2016 Pancreatic Cancer Action Network-AACR Pathway to Leadership Grants are grants of up to 5 years duration totaling $600,000. These grants are designed to support the future leadership of pancreatic cancer research by funding outstanding early-career investigators in a postdoctoral, mentored research position and continuing through successful transition to independence. This year's recipients are:


* Ethan Abel, PhD, University of Michigan, "The Role and Regulation of HNF1A in Pancreatic Cancer Cells";


* Rohit Chandwani, MD, PhD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York City, "The Epigenetic Plasticity of Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma"; and


* Wantong Yao, MD, PhD, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, "Syndecan-1 is a Novel Regulator for Nutrient Salvage Pathway"



The 2016 Pancreatic Cancer Action Network-AACR Career Development Awards are 2-year grants of $200,000 designed to attract and support early-career scientists as they conduct pancreatic cancer research and establish successful career paths in the field. This year's recipients are:

Ethan Abel, PhD. Eth... - Click to enlarge in new windowEthan Abel, PhD. Ethan Abel, PhD
Rohit Chandwani, MD,... - Click to enlarge in new windowRohit Chandwani, MD, PhD. Rohit Chandwani, MD, PhD
Wantong Yao, MD, PhD... - Click to enlarge in new windowWantong Yao, MD, PhD. Wantong Yao, MD, PhD

* Shuibing Chen, PhD, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York City, "Targeting Chemoresistant Stem Cells in Pancreatic Cancer";


* Kian-Huat Lim, MD, PhD, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, "Deactivating the Innate Immune Defense Mechanism of Pancreatic Cancer";


* Rushika M. Perera, PhD, University of California, San Francisco, "Targeting Nutrient Scavenging Pathways That Fuel Pancreatic Cancer Growth";


* Amber Simpson, PhD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York City, "CT Texture Analysis: A Radiomics Approach to Predicting Malignancy in IPMN"; and


* Christopher Vakoc, MD, PhD, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, "Enhancer Reprogramming as a Driver of Pancreatic Cancer Progression"



Radiology Trailblazers Named Leadership Luminaries

The Radiology Leadership Institute named E. Stephen Amis Jr., MD, FACR, and Glendon G. Cox, MD, MBA, MHSA, as this year's Leadership Luminary Award recipients for their exceptional service to the medical specialty.


Amis has served as Professor and Chair of Radiology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center, both in New York City, since 1991. Amis, who played a critical role in developing ACR Appropriateness Criteria, co-founded Image Wisely, a joint ACR/Radiological Society of North American radiation safety initiative for adults.

E. STEPHEN AMIS, MD,... - Click to enlarge in new windowE. STEPHEN AMIS, MD, FACR. E. STEPHEN AMIS, MD, FACR
Glendon G. Cox, MD, ... - Click to enlarge in new windowGlendon G. Cox, MD, MBA, MHSA. Glendon G. Cox, MD, MBA, MHSA

He served as chair of the ACR Board of Chancellors, ACR President, and Chair of the Commission on Quality and Safety. Amis, who most recently completed a 3-year term as Chair of the ACR Awards and Honors Committee, served as Chair of both the Radiology Residency Review Committee and Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education Council of Review Committees.


Cox currently serves as a Professor in the Departments of Radiology and Health Policy and Management at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, Kansas City. From 2000-2008, he served as the Vice Dean of the School of Medicine, overseeing the offices of undergraduate medical education, graduate medical education, student affairs, admissions, cultural enhancement and diversity and rural medical education.


In 2008, he left the dean's office to become Chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management and Director of the Institute for Community and Public Health. In 2012, he was asked to reprise some of his previous activities as Senior Associate Dean for medical education.


Before returning to academic medicine, Cox was a founding partner of Overland Park Radiologists. He maintains interests in the business, legal, and management issues surrounding the practice of radiology. His past research includes applications of digital image archiving and communication networks in diagnostic radiology and mathematical modeling of image management networks. This research had a significant impact on the development of picture archiving systems now used in virtually every radiology department today.


Penn Medicine Immunologist Receives Cancer Research Institute Award

E. John Wherry, PhD, Professor of Microbiology, Director of the Institute for Immunology, and Co-Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, has been awarded the 2016 Frederick W. Alt Award for New Discoveries in Immunology from the Cancer Research Institute (CRI).


The award honors an outstanding former CRI-Irvington postdoctoral fellow and is named after former fellow Frederick W. Alt, MD, a Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School. The fellowship, established in 1971, is CRI's longest-standing program. Fellowships provide support to fund and train young immunologists around the world. Wherry was a CRI-Irvington postdoctoral fellow from 2000 to 2003 at Emory University.

E. John Wherry, PhD.... - Click to enlarge in new windowE. John Wherry, PhD. E. John Wherry, PhD

Wherry's discoveries include insights into how changes in gene expression affect T-cell exhaustion, which is a loss of immune function that occurs as a result of chronic viral infection and cancer. Normally, during a short-term infection, such as the flu, immune cells handily eliminate the offending pathogen. But in the long-term, chronic infections such as hepatitis C, HIV, and malaria, and also in cancer, T cells and the opposing pathogen or malignancy engage in a continuous struggle, and over time the T cells become "exhausted," giving cancer or the pathogen the edge. Several current immunotherapies for human cancer work in part by reversing T-cell exhaustion.


Wherry has been recognized as one of the most frequently cited researchers in his field by Thomson/ISI and named one of America's Young Innovators by Smithsonian magazine (2007). He serves on many scientific advisory panels and editorial boards, including the Journal of Experimental Medicine, PLoS Pathogens, Cancer Immunology Research, the Journal of Immunology, and the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.


Missouri Cancer Associates Adds New Physician, Enhancing Access to Quality Care

Missouri Cancer Associates (MCA) has added another physician to the practice to meet growing demand for its services. Liana Makarian, MD, a medical oncologist and hematologist, joined the practice in July, providing services from MCA's Columbia and Kirksville treatment centers.


Board-certified in internal medicine, medical oncology and hematology, Makarian is interested in treating all types of cancers and blood disorders. Throughout her career, she has published and lectured on a variety of cancer-related topics, and she enjoys participating in public outreach events.

Liana Makarian, MD. ... - Click to enlarge in new windowLiana Makarian, MD. Liana Makarian, MD

In addition to her clinical background, Makarian brings strong leadership skills and experience to MCA, having most recently been Chair of the Department of Medicine at Ozarks Medical Center's Cancer Care Center in West Plains, Mo. For several years, she also served as a Quality Improvement Committee Member for the Hematology/Oncology Division at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, gaining knowledge and expertise in various quality initiatives which will be helpful to MCA as the practice responds to the new value-based cancer care environment.


Oncologist Receives Grant to Study Patient-Reported Outcomes

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute awarded Ethan Basch, MD, MSc, a 5-year, $5.45 million grant to support research into whether there are clinical benefits of having people with cancer self-report their symptoms while undergoing treatment.


Basch, Director of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center's Cancer Outcomes Research Program, Chapel Hill, N.C., is a national leader in the study of patient-reported outcomes and technologies to measure the impact of interventions on patients' experiences. He will conduct the research in conjunction with the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology Foundation.

Ethan Basch, MD, MSC... - Click to enlarge in new windowEthan Basch, MD, MSC. Ethan Basch, MD, MSC

The national trial will investigate whether integrating patient-reported symptoms into care management can improve the patient's quality of care and quality of life as well as measure the impact of patient self-reporting on the healthcare delivery system.


"Patients with metastatic cancer frequently experience symptoms that cause distress, disability, and lead to urgent care visits, and these symptoms often go unrecognized and unaddressed by clinicians even though there are many interventions that can provide relief," said Basch, who is a Professor in the UNC School of Medicine Division of Hematology and Oncology. "Sometimes this happens because patients did not have the opportunity to discuss symptoms at an office visit or the symptoms occurred between visits."


Basch said enabling patients to report their own symptoms electronically at regular intervals could address this issue. A patient reporting severe symptoms can trigger clinicians to respond with interventions ranging from advice to prescriptions or triage for evaluation. Prior studies have found most patients willing and able to self-report symptoms during cancer care, and clinicians find this information valuable. Preliminary data suggest this approach leads to better patient quality of life, reduces emergency room and hospital visits, and may lengthen survival.


The researchers have developed a randomized trial to better understand the impact of patients self-reporting symptoms. In the intervention arm, patients are given the choice to use a secured internet site or an automated telephone system to regularly report 12 common symptoms. Email alerts will be sent to nurses when patients report severe or worsening symptoms. Nurses and patients will be provided with evidence-based symptom management recommendations. The trial's control arm will not include symptom self-reporting, but nurses and patients will be provided with symptom management recommendations.


The outcomes being tracked include physical function, quality of life, survival, emergency room/hospital visits, and perspectives about relative benefits and burdens from patients, clinicians, and national organizations.


Other UNC Lineberger members working on the project will include Angela Stover, PhD, Antonia Bennett, PhD, Mattias Jonsson, and Bryce Reeve, PhD.


Dana-Farber Researcher Selected as 2016 Pew-Stewart Scholar

The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Alexander and Margaret Stewart Trust announced the 2016 class of Pew-Stewart scholars for cancer research. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute researcher Stephanie K. Dougan, PhD, a Researcher and Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunobiology at Dana-Farber, Boston, was one of five early-career cancer scientists chosen for this prestigious award.


The scientists from top research institutions in the United States were selected for their dedication to pursuing innovative leads aimed at finding a cure for cancer. Each will receive 4 years of flexible funding to conduct their work.

Stephanie K. Dougan,... - Click to enlarge in new windowStephanie K. Dougan, PhD. Stephanie K. Dougan, PhD

For 3 years, Pew has partnered with the Alexander and Margaret Stewart Trust to support early-career researchers. The initiative has allowed for the Pew Scholars Program in Biomedical Sciences, a three-decade-old scholarship program for promising young scientists, to expand its reach while also supporting an area of great need-cancer research. The 2016 Pew-Stewart scholars' work includes studying what drives recurrence of medulloblastoma, an aggressive pediatric brain tumor, and engineering new immune therapies against pancreatic cancer.


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