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Internationally Renowned Cancer Researcher Joins Cancer Center's Leadership Team

Xiao Wang MD, PhD, recently joined the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center as Chief Science Officer. She will also be Associate Director for Basic Science.


Wang comes to UC Davis from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus where she was a tenured full professor, holding joint appointments in the departments of pathology, dermatology, otolaryngology, radiation oncology, and craniofacial biology. She was also the John. S. Gates Endowed Chair of Cancer Stem Cell Biology, as well as the founding Director of Head and Neck Cancer Research Program; Director of the T32 Training Program of Lung, Head and Neck Cancer; and Co-Director of the Colorado Head and Neck SPORE Program, which advances translational research to improve survival and quality of life for head and neck cancer patients.

Figure. No caption a... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. No caption available.
Xiao Wang MD, PhD. X... - Click to enlarge in new windowXiao Wang MD, PhD. Xiao Wang MD, PhD

"Our research innovations and areas will broaden significantly with our appointment of Dr. Wang," said Primo "Lucky" Lara, Jr., MD, Director of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. "She brings to UC Davis not only a portion of the Head and Neck SPORE funding, but true programmatic collaborations, as well with its exciting advancements of science leading to novel therapies for multiple cancer types."


The Wang Lab uses both mouse models and human cancer specimens for cross-species comparisons. It is especially focused on the role of tumor microenvironments in cancer progression and metastasis, and the properties of cancer stem cells. It also explores the mechanism of immune evasion of cancer and cancer immunotherapy.


"UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center's reputation as a research institution is growing internationally and I'm humbled to join the institution at its rapidly growing phase with my significant efforts in developing team science, clinical translation, training/mentoring, and innovation," Wang said.


She obtained her medical degree and doctorate in neuroscience from Beijing Medical University in China and completed her postdoctoral education at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Her independent research career started at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston as a tenured associate professor, then moved to Oregon Health & Science University as a tenured full professor before joining University of Colorado.


UPMC Hillman Cancer Researchers Named as Susan G. Komen Scholars & Advisors

Adrian V. Lee, PhD, a leading breast cancer researcher at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, will join the Susan G. Komen Scientific Advisory Board to help lead Komen's overall research strategy and investments.


In addition, the Komen organization added nine researchers and two patient advocates as Komen Scholars. Among them is Steffi Oesterreich, PhD, also a leading UPMC Hillman breast cancer researcher, scientific collaborator, and Co-Director of the Women's Cancer Research Center, a collaboration between UPMC Hillman and Magee-Womens Research Institute.

Adrian V. Lee, PhD. ... - Click to enlarge in new windowAdrian V. Lee, PhD. Adrian V. Lee, PhD

Together, the Lee/Oesterreich laboratory studies the molecular basis of breast cancer development and resistance to therapy with the goal of improving precision medicine and outcomes for breast cancer patients.

Steffi Oesterreich, ... - Click to enlarge in new windowSteffi Oesterreich, PhD. Steffi Oesterreich, PhD

Lee also serves as the Director of the Institute of Precision Medicine, a joint effort by UPMC and Pitt. He has published over 160 peer-reviewed research articles. His laboratory is supported by funding from the Department of Defense, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and other sources. He serves on numerous national peer-review committees and is on the editorial board of several journals. In 2018, Lee received the Terri L. Chapman Award from Susan G. Komen, the PNC Elsie Hillman Distinguished Scholar Award, and the University of Pittsburgh Biomedical Graduate Scholar Association (BGSA) Distinguished Mentor Award.


Oesterreich has also authored over 160 scientific articles in breast cancer, and her research has continuously been funded by Susan G. Komen, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the National Cancer Institute, and other sources. Together with Lee, Oesterreich received the PNC Elsie Hillman Distinguished Scholar Award.


Lee and Oesterreich will join an advisory group of nearly 50 accomplished leaders in breast cancer research and advocacy, representing more than 20 major health institutions across the U.S. The Komen Scholars are the foremost experts in laboratory research, clinical practice, public health, and patient advocacy.


UPMC Hillman Immunologist Receives Holzer Research Award

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center immunologist Tullia C. Bruno, PhD, was presented with the Sy Holzer Endowed Immunotherapy Research Fund Award to advance innovative research in cancer. An Assistant Professor in the Department of Immunology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Bruno focuses on developing cancer therapeutics that harness the power of the immune system. More specifically, her research team focuses on B cells and tertiary lymphoid structures (TLS) within the tumor microenvironment to improve the number of patients who respond favorably to immunotherapy.


The Holzer Fund, now in its fourth year, was established to honor Sy Holzer's philanthropic work as the long-time president of PNC and his many years of service as chair of UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Council. The fund has been supported through leadership gifts made by many local and national individual funds, foundations, and corporations. This award is being matched by the Stanley M. Marks Endowed Research Fund at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.

Tullia C. Bruno, PhD... - Click to enlarge in new windowTullia C. Bruno, PhD. Tullia C. Bruno, PhD

Bruno's research lab at UPMC Hillman focuses on studying immunity within TLS of cancer patients with an overall objective of developing new immunotherapy treatments. She has authored numerous publications and serves on national committees focused on immune-centric cancer treatments.


In addition to her research, Bruno is an active mentor and advocate for women in science and is committed to exceptional training of students and fellows. She is Chair of the UPMC Women's Taskforce and mentor for the Microbiology and Immunology Diversity Scholars Program through the Department of Immunology. Bruno is also a member of several organizations, including the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer and Co-Director of the Immunology and Cancer Immunotherapy site for the UPMC Hillman Academy, an immersive program for high school students.


Stand Up To Cancer Teams Focus on Lung Cancer Disparities & KRAS-Mutant Cancers

Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) announced two new teams, the SU2C Lung Cancer Health Equity Research Team and the SU2C Catalyst Team. Both will build on important work being done by unique SU2C research programs focused on improving cancer health equity and bringing new and innovative therapies to patients faster.


"SU2C is committed to supporting the cutting-edge research efforts of talented investigators. We are excited to announce these two new teams as they investigate ways to improve cancer outcomes in unique ways," said Russell Chew, President and CEO of Stand Up To Cancer. "As we continue to build upon our research portfolio, funding teams that are focused on health equity and improving therapies in a clinical setting is critical to saving more lives."


The SU2C Lung Cancer Health Equity Research Team will investigate the biological determinants of poor lung cancer outcomes and lung cancer disparities within Black communities in the southeastern region of the United States. Robert A. Winn, MD, Director of the Massey Cancer Center at Virginia Commonwealth University, will serve as the team's leader and Marvella Ford, PhD, Director of Community Engagement at the Hollings Cancer Center at Medical University of South Carolina, will be the team's co-leader. The team will establish the Southeastern Consortium for Lung Cancer Health Equity to facilitate scientific collaborations among investigators at three National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers.


Despite recent progress in treating lung cancer, the disease remains the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women in the U.S. and represents nearly 25 percent of all cancer deaths. Mortality rates are higher than the national average in the southeastern region of the U.S. and are particularly high in rural communities and among Black men. Black men are about 15 percent more likely to develop lung cancer than White men.


The SU2C Catalyst Team will develop new approaches to treat patients with KRAS-mutant cancers, which is the most commonly mutated oncogene in human cancer. Ryan Corcoran, MD, PhD, Director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center Program and the Scientific Director of the Termeer Center for Targeted Therapy at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, will serve as the team's leader and Scott Kopetz, MD, PhD, Deputy Chair of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, will serve as the team's co-leader.


The KRAS gene makes a protein involved in cellular growth and proliferation. In KRAS-mutant cancers, the protein is continually activated, which can cause cancers to grow and spread. KRAS proteins were once considered undruggable, but recent research advances have resulted in the identification and development of investigational drugs against cancers that have specific KRAS mutations. The team's research will explore adagrasib, an investigational, highly selective, and potent oral small-molecule inhibitor of KRASG12C; why some patients do not respond to KRAS inhibitors; and new treatment strategies to increase the number of patients who could benefit from this promising investigational therapy.


International Myeloma Foundation Honors 2022 Research Achievements

The International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) announced the recipients of this year's Robert A. Kyle Achievement Award and Brian G.M. Durie Outstanding Achievement Award, presented at the 13th Annual International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG) Summit in Vienna, Austria. These awards are presented each year to outstanding and deserving individuals who have made significant contributions in the field of myeloma research.


This year's Robert A. Kyle Lifetime Achievement Awardee is Herve Avet-Loiseau, MD, PhD, who has been Head of the Laboratory for Genomics in Myeloma for a decade at the University Hospital Center of Toulouse, France. He is also the Head of the Hematology Laboratory at the University Hospital of Nantes and Chairman of Intergroupe Francophone du Myelome leading all biological studies.


Avet-Loiseau's research studies are mostly based "on the analysis of genetic/genomic abnormalities observed in malignant plasma cells" with the use of varying technologies, which include fluorescence in situ hybridization, gene expression profiling, single nucleotide polymorphism arrays, and next-generation sequencing, as detailed by European Multiple Myeloma Academy.

Herv Avet-Loiseau, M... - Click to enlarge in new windowHerve Avet-Loiseau, MD, PhD. Herve Avet-Loiseau, MD, PhD

This year's Brian G.M. Durie Outstanding Achievement Awardee is Bruno Paiva, PharmD, PhD, Co-Director of the Flow Cytometry Platform and Co-Director of the Monoclonal Gammopathies Research Laboratory at the CIMA Universidad De Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, with preferential dedication to multidimensional flow cytometry analysis of hematological malignancies. Paiva is also a key member of the i2TEAMM, which seeks FDA and European Medicines Agency approvals for MRD testing as a surrogate response endpoint in myeloma clinical trials.


Paiva "has been the principal investigator or co-principal investigator in 12 research and development (R&D) projects funded through competitive calls from public or private entities, and he has established more than 15 R&D collaboration agreements with several pharmaceutical companies. His research laboratory has been at the core of more than 20 national and international clinical trials in multiple myeloma and acute myeloid leukemia," according to the CIMA Universidad De Navarra.

Bruno Paiva, PharmD,... - Click to enlarge in new windowBruno Paiva, PharmD, PhD. Bruno Paiva, PharmD, PhD

Paiva's "research objectives are intrinsically related to the dual nature of his clinical and research laboratory: to provide state-of-the-art biomarkers for laboratory diagnostics through intensive basic and translational research. He prioritizes its research in monoclonal gammopathies, such as multiple myeloma (MM), light chain amyloidosis (AL), or Waldenstom's macroglobulinemia (WM), and such research can be classified into five well-defined areas: 1) pathogenesis of MM, AL and WM; 2) risk of transformation in non-IgM and IgM MGUS; 3) circulating tumor cells; 4) minimal residual disease; and 5) immune monitoring," CIMA Universidad De Navarra further states.


On the exceptional and outstanding work of the Kyle and Durie Achievement Awardees, IMF Chairman of the Board and Chief Scientific Officer Durie stated: "We applaud their accomplishments and important contributions to improving the lives of myeloma patients. We hope that they and their work inspire the researchers who attend the IMWG Summit to aim even higher, to help us understand and ultimately find a cure for this disease."


IMF Patient, President & CEO Yelak Biru extends his warmest congratulations and appreciation to this year's Kyle and Durie Achievement Awardees: "On behalf of the International Myeloma Foundation and patient communities worldwide, thank you for your scientific rigor and research to accelerate understanding of the biology of myeloma, and for your vast contributions to myeloma research."


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