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NCI Outstanding Investigator Joins Moffitt Cancer Center

Elsa R. Flores, PhD, has joined Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, Fla., as the Co-Leader of the Cancer Biology and Evolution Program and Chair of the Molecular Oncology Department.


The Molecular Oncology Department investigates the biology of cancer and tumors at the cellular level to identify genes and non-coding RNAs involved in the initiation, progression, maintenance, and metastasis of tumors. The proteins produced by those genes may serve as targets for new cancer diagnostics or therapies.

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Elsa R. Flores, PhD.... - Click to enlarge in new windowElsa R. Flores, PhD. Elsa R. Flores, PhD

The basic science research being driven by Flores and her team in the department will work hand-in-hand with the Cancer Biology and Evolution Program. This first-of-its-kind cancer center program combines findings coming from basic and clinical cancer research with biologists and mathematical oncologists to help devise new strategies and develop new agents to prevent and treat recurrent cancers.


Flores is a highly accomplished scientist who is widely published in top-tier journals and has been awarded several distinguished research project grants from the NCI and the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas. She was named a scholar of the Rita Allen Foundation, the V Foundation, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America.


In 2015, Flores received the NCI's Outstanding Investigator Award. She is using this grant funding to identify regulatory ribonucleic acids and pathways that can be used as drug targets for the treatment of metastatic lung and skin cancer.


Five Scientists Join the LUNGevity Foundation Scientific Advisory Board

LUNGevity Foundation announced five new members of its Scientific Advisory Board, a group of 18 world-renowned scientists and researchers that guides LUNGevity's research program.


Scott J. Antonia, MD, PhD, is Chair, Department of Thoracic Oncology, Moffitt Cancer Center, and Professor of Oncologic Sciences at the University of South Florida College of Medicine, Tampa. His work focuses on translational research, using his molecular biology and cellular background to develop immunotherapeutic strategies for lung cancer patients. His clinical interests focus on immunotherapy and immunobiology, in particular gene-modified tumor cell vaccine trials. Antonia also serves at Moffitt as Chairman of the Scientific Review Committee and Medical Director of the Tumor Vaccine Production Facility.


Suzanne E. Dahlberg, PhD, is Senior Research Scientist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston. Her research focuses on clinical and translational studies in lung cancer as the primary statistician for both the ECOG-ACRIN Thoracic Committee and the Thoracic Oncology Program at Dana-Farber. She is a member of the NCI Thoracic Malignancy Steering Committee, the NCTN Core Correlative Sciences Committee, and the Nature journals statistical consultants group.

Scott J. Antonia, MD... - Click to enlarge in new windowScott J. Antonia, MD, PhD. Scott J. Antonia, MD, PhD

Jessica S. Donington, MD, MSCr, is Associate Professor, Cardiothoracic Surgery, at NYU School of Medicine, Director of the NYU Thoracic Oncology Translational Research Laboratory, and Chief of Thoracic Surgery at Bellevue Hospital. Her interests focus on the early diagnosis and treatment of non-small cell lung cancer. Her areas of expertise include the use of multimodality therapy for thoracic malignancies, treatment options for high-risk patients with early-stage lung cancer, and lung cancer in women. She is the Surgical Chair for the thoracic malignancy group of NRG Oncology Group and the President of Women in Thoracic Surgery.

Suzanne E. Dahlberg,... - Click to enlarge in new windowSuzanne E. Dahlberg, PhD. Suzanne E. Dahlberg, PhD

Paul K. Paik, MD, is Assistant Attending Physician and Clinical Director, Thoracic Oncology Service, at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, N.Y. Paik's research focuses on squamous cell lung cancer biology, targeted therapeutics, and translational therapies aimed at the metastatic process. He has served as a member of The Cancer Genome Atlas Squamous Cell Lung Cancer Working Group.

Jessica S. Donington... - Click to enlarge in new windowJessica S. Donington, MD, MSCR. Jessica S. Donington, MD, MSCR

Anil Vachani, MD, is Associate Professor of Medicine in the Pulmonary and Critical Care Division at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, where he serves as Director of the Lung Nodule Program, Co-Director of the Lung Cancer Screening Program, and Director of Bronchoscopy at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. His research focuses on the discovery and validation of early detection and treatment prediction biomarkers for lung cancer and mesothelioma. Additional areas of research include studies on the measurement of biomarkers from circulating tumor cells and circulating free DNA. Vachani serves on various committees for the American Thoracic Society and is the Vice Chair of the Thoracic Oncology Network of the American College of Chest Physicians.

Paul K. Paik, MD. Pa... - Click to enlarge in new windowPaul K. Paik, MD. Paul K. Paik, MD

Winship Cancer Institute Awards John Kauffman Family Professorship

Bassel F. El-Rayes, MD, Associate Director of Clinical Research at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, Atlanta, was selected to hold the John Kauffman Family Professorship for Pancreatic Cancer Research.


John Kauffman died of pancreatic cancer in 2013. A longtime president of Atlanta-based Kauffman Tire, he was a strong community advocate for Winship and he served as the inaugural Chair of the Winship Advisory Board. The newly endowed position was created to support an outstanding leader in the field of pancreatic cancer research and assist with the further development of Winship's gastrointestinal (GI) cancer efforts.

Bassel F. El-Rayes, ... - Click to enlarge in new windowBassel F. El-Rayes, MD. Bassel F. El-Rayes, MD

El-Rayes, a Professor and Vice Chair for Clinical Research in the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Emory University School of Medicine, is the Chief Clinical Research Scientist responsible for coordinating and providing high-level direction to the clinical cancer research programs and clinical cancer trials across the Emory campuses. He has also served as Director of the GI Program since joining Winship in 2009.


Board certified in hematology and medical oncology, El-Rayes is involved in translational research in pancreatic and colorectal cancer. His clinical research focuses on drug development and multidisciplinary approaches to patients with early stage or advanced GI cancer.


New Researchers & Oncologists Join City of Hope

Flavia Pichiorri, PhD, joined the Judy and Bernard Briskin Center for Multiple Myeloma Research within the Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute as Associate Professor. Pichiorri joins City of Hope in Los Angeles after being an Assistant Professor in the Division of Hematology at Ohio State University College of Medicine.


The Pichiorri Lab at City of Hope is focused on basic and translational research in multiple myeloma. Specifically, on preclinical and clinical experimental therapeutics in multiple myeloma; identification of genetic and epigenetic abnormalities involved in multiple myeloma pathogenesis; and understanding the physiological role of multiple myeloma-derived extracellular vesicles in modulating the tumor microenvironment and their possible use as easily accessible biomarkers for multiple myeloma patient stratification at diagnosis and resistance to therapy.

Flavia Pichiorri, Ph... - Click to enlarge in new windowFlavia Pichiorri, PhD. Flavia Pichiorri, PhD

Weili Sun, MD, PhD, has joined City of Hope as an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Pediatrics. She will also serve as Director of Pediatric Leukemia.


Sun's major research interest is to develop new therapeutic agents in pediatric leukemia and lymphoma. She is a member of the Scientific Review Committee of the Therapeutic Advances in Childhood Leukemia & Lymphoma (TACL) Consortium, a multi-institutional scientific consortium focusing on early phase clinical trials in pediatric leukemia and lymphoma. She was the study chair of several TACL clinical studies, including a phase I study using azacitidine in combination with chemotherapy to treat childhood relapsed acute leukemia. In addition, she is a study committee member of Children's Oncology Group, a phase III study for patients with newly diagnosed APL. She also served as the local PI for several multi-institutional early phase clinical studies in pediatric leukemia.

Weili Sun, MD, PhD. ... - Click to enlarge in new windowWeili Sun, MD, PhD. Weili Sun, MD, PhD

Angelo Cardoso MD, PhD, has joined City of Hope as Research Professor in the Center for Gene Therapy within the Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute and has been appointed Director of the Laboratory for Cellular Medicine. He will be working to advance stem cell therapies. Cardoso previously served as the Angio BioCore Director at Indiana University Simon Cancer Center.


Benjamin Cahan, MD, has joined City of Hope as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology. Cahan is trained in all areas of radiation oncology including the latest advances in image-guided radiotherapy, brachytherapy, 3D conformal radiotherapy and 4D computed tomography simulation. His research, which focuses on improving patients' quality of life through different therapies, has been published and presented at several national conferences and meetings.

Angelo Cardoso MD, P... - Click to enlarge in new windowAngelo Cardoso MD, PhD. Angelo Cardoso MD, PhD

Erminia Massarelli, MD, PhD, MS, has joined City of Hope as an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Medical Oncology and Therapeutics Research, specializing in lung and head and neck cancers.

Benjamin Cahan, MD. ... - Click to enlarge in new windowBenjamin Cahan, MD. Benjamin Cahan, MD

Board certified in internal medicine and medical oncology, Massarelli is the recipient of several honors and awards, and received funding for her research grants and protocols including receipt of the ASCO Conquer Cancer Foundation's Young Investigator Award. She has published over 25 peer-reviewed articles, numerous abstracts, and three book chapters.

Erminia Massarelli, ... - Click to enlarge in new windowErminia Massarelli, MD, PhD. Erminia Massarelli, MD, PhD

Penn Medicine Professor Receives Immunology Award

Carl H. June, MD, the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and Director of Translational Research in Penn's Abramson Cancer Center, has been awarded a 2016 Novartis Prize for Clinical Immunotherapy for his work developing personalized cellular therapies for cancer using Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cells (CAR T cells).


June has published more than 350 manuscripts and has received numerous prizes and honors, including election to the Institute of Medicine in 2012, the Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize, the William B. Coley award, the Karl Landsteiner Memorial Award from the AABB, the Richard V. Smalley Memorial Award from the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer, the Philadelphia Award, and the Hamdan Award for Medical Research Excellence. In 2014, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Carl H. June, MD. Ca... - Click to enlarge in new windowCarl H. June, MD. Carl H. June, MD

The Novartis Prizes for Immunology are awarded every 3 years for breakthrough contributions to the fields of basic and clinical immunology and can be shared between as many as three scientists. The winners are selected by an independent jury of world-class immunologists.


AACR Launches 2017 Grants for Transformative Cancer Research

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) announced the launch of the second round of its flagship grant program, the AACR NextGen Grants for Transformative Cancer Research.


This grant mechanism is intended to promote and support junior faculty conducting creative, paradigm-shifting cancer research that might not otherwise be funded through conventional sources. These grants are expected to catalyze significant scientific discoveries and help talented young investigators gain scientific independence. In the inaugural year of this program, four exciting projects led by bright young investigators were funded.


Eligibility is limited to junior faculty who have held a tenure-eligible appointment as an assistant professor for no more than 3 years. The proposed research must represent a highly innovative approach to a major contemporary challenge in cancer research. The funded projects must have the potential to lead to groundbreaking discoveries in the field, and transform our understanding of the tumorigenesis process and/or our ability to treat, detect, or prevent cancer. The research can be in any area of basic, translational, or clinical science.


These grants provide a total of $450,000 over a period of 3 years, beginning July 1, 2017. The recipients will be formally recognized during the opening ceremony of the AACR Annual Meeting 2017, to be held April 1-5 in Washington D.C. The recipients will also formally accept their grants during the Annual Grants Reception and Dinner at the Annual Meeting.


Baylor College of Medicine Welcomes Associate Professor

Chonghui Cheng, MD, PhD, joins Baylor College of Medicine's Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center and the Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Houston, as an Associate Professor, continuing her work to explore how RNA regulation controls breast cancer metastasis.


Baylor received a recruitment grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) to help enlist Cheng, a CPRIT Rising Star. Cheng was recruited from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, where she has been an Assistant Professor since 2007 and later served as program leader in tumor environment and metastasis in the cancer center.

Chonghui Cheng, MD, ... - Click to enlarge in new windowChonghui Cheng, MD, PhD. Chonghui Cheng, MD, PhD

In her research career, Cheng has contributed to the discovery of a new splicing-mediated pathway that enables the spread of cancer, or metastasis, in patients, which demonstrated that splice isoform switching causally controls epithelial-mesenchymal transition and breast tumor progression. Her work is funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.


Cheng's work has elevated the focus of alternative splicing in the understanding of breast cancer and tumor growth. Currently, she is testing the role of the versatile switching of alternative splicing in the plasticity of cancer cells, and if this results in cells acquiring metastasis and therapeutic resistance.


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