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The AACI is dedicated to promoting the common interests of the nation’s leading academic cancer centers that are focused on the eradication of cancer through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary program of cancer research, treatment, patient care, prevention, education, and community outreach.
AACI Update is an e-newsletter for the cancer center directors and key contacts at AACI member institutions and individuals interested in the cancer center-related activities of AACI. AACI Update reports on the progress of AACI initiatives and other AACI endeavors that benefit the cancer community and highlights important news and events at AACI member institutions.
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Economist Kevin Murphy Featured Speaker at AACI Annual Meeting
Dr. Kevin Murphy, George J. Stigler Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at The University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, will be a featured speaker at the 2007 AACI Annual Meeting, October 28-30, in Washington, D.C. Dr. Murphy will discuss the health economics of medical research. His widely-cited research has shown that a modest reduction in cancer deaths would result in almost $500 billion in social value in the United States, while curing the disease could be worth as much as $50 trillion in social value.

In 2005, Dr. Murphy was named a MacArthur Fellow. MacArthur Fellowships, commonly known as genius awards, are an extraordinary form of recognition. more...
Earn CME at 2007 Meeting
The program for the 2007 AACI Annual Meeting/CCAF Fall Meeting has been approved for continuing medical education for physicians. Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and AACI are joint sponsors. The programming currently offers 18.25 Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits.

AACI programming is led by Dr. Kenneth Cowan, director of the UNMC/Eppley Cancer Center, and Dr. Stanton L. Gerson, director of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University. CCAF programming is led by Mr. Robert J. DuWors, deputy director of administration and finance, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, UCLA, and Mr. Michael W. Darling, associate director of administration, Indiana University Cancer Center. more...
Legislative Update
On June 21, 2007, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) appropriations legislation for fiscal year (FY) 2008. The Committee allocated $29.9 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—an increase of $1 billion or 3.5 percent over FY 2007 levels. However, due to an increase in funds transferred from NIH to the Global HIV/AIDS fund, NIH would only yield a net increase of $543 million or 2.8 percent for FY 2008. more...
UCSF Receives $150 Million
The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) has received a $150 million pledge to support clinical and research programs of the UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center and Cancer Research Institute. It is the largest philanthropic commitment from an individual ever received by the University, and was given anonymously. The gift will be used to strengthen five major components of UCSF programs.

“The magnitude of this gift reflects the enormity of need for funding in both cancer research and the translation of that research into successful therapies for every patient,” said UCSF Cancer Center Director Dr. Frank McCormick. “This is a bold first step in launching UCSF to the forefront of the search for the cures of the future.” more...
News from the Centers
Trial Supports Use of Marker to Predict How Pancreatic Cancer Patients Do After Surgery
Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson
A team of researchers, led by surgeons at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson, has found further evidence supporting the ability of a protein, CA 19-9, to predict how well a patient with advanced pancreatic cancer will do after surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Dr. Adam Berger, assistant professor of surgery at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, and his co-workers found that patients whose post-operative CA 19-9 levels exceeded 180 U/ml did much worse than those with lower levels. Patients with levels 180 or below lived almost twice as long as patients with higher levels. Dr. Berger reported on his team’s findings June 23, 2007 at the semi-annual meeting of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) in Philadelphia. more...
University of Pittsburgh Researchers Detect Small Set of Cancer Stem Cells
University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute
University of Pittsburgh researchers, led by Dr. Vera Donnenberg, suggest that for chemotherapy to be truly effective in treating lung cancers it must be able to target a small subset of cancer stem cells--which researchers have shown share the same protective mechanisms as normal lung stem cells. The findings of this ground-breaking research were presented at the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society North America Chapter meeting held June 13 to 16 in Toronto. more...
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine Professor Receives Prestigious Designation by the American Cancer Society
Case Comprehensive Cancer Center/University Hospitals, Ireland Cancer Center
Dr. Kurt C. Stange, associate director of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, has become a member of the elite group of 11 American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professors. The honor includes a 5-year, $400,000 renewable grant to further Dr. Stange’s innovative research in the interface between primary care, specialty care, health care systems, and community groups and agencies. “The Professorship provides an opportunity to discover how health care can be made to work better, by studying exemplars-innovators who have found a better way. Our goal is to transform health care in a practical way, for all Americans,” Dr. Stange said. more...
Roswell Park Appoints New Faculty
Roswell Park Cancer Institute
Dr. Ilene L. Rothman has joined the faculty of the Department of Dermatology, and Dr. Shannon L. Smiley was appointed as staff physician in the Department of Medicine at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI). Dr. Rothman will focus her clinical practice on complicated dermatology cases and skin cancers. Dr. Smiley has joined the RPCI staff in the Division of Blood and Marrow Transplantation. Her research interests focus on investigating inter-individual variability in transplant outcomes in different blood and marrow transplant groups and developing clinical trials to improve the diagnosis and treatment of graft versus host disease. more...
UCLA Researchers Discover Novel Signaling Pathway That May Help Maintain Immune System Balance
Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center
Researchers at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have discovered a novel anti-inflammatory cell signaling pathway that may serve as a vital mechanism to maintain the delicate balance of immune response. The discovery may lead to new ways to fight cancer and inflammatory diseases, said Dr. Ke Shuai, a researcher at Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and lead author of the study. Dr. Shuai and his colleagues discovered the PIAS1 anti-inflammatory pathway, a pathway commonly used by a wide variety of stimulants that regulate immune system response and trigger inflammation. The discovery is published in the June issue of the journal Cell. more...
Case Comprehensive Cancer Center Receives “Outstanding” Rating
Case Comprehensive Cancer Center/University Hospitals, Ireland Cancer Center
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has reaffirmed the formal designation of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center as an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. Under the direction of Dr. Stanton L. Gerson, the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center brings together more than 320 basic-and clinical-science cancer physician and faculty experts from Case Western Reserve University, the Ireland Cancer Center of University of Hospitals, Case Medical Center, and Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Center, making Case one of the few centers that has effectively brought institutions together to improve cancer care. The re-designation followed a rigorous review process that included a visit from the NCI staff and its 28-member scientific review group. more...
Researcher Describes Benefits of Aspirin in Preventing Colon Cancer
Case Comprehensive Cancer Center/University Hospitals, Ireland Cancer Center
Dr. Sanford Markowitz, a colon cancer researcher at the Ireland Cancer Center, has laid out the roadmap for how medical researchers should employ aspirin and aspirin-like drugs to prevent colon cancer in certain high-risk individuals. Dr. Markowitz’s research accompanies research by Dr. Charles Fuch’s team at Harvard Medical School and both editorials can be found in the most recent issue of New England Journal of Medicine. more...
Roswell Park Appoints New Physicians
Roswell Park Cancer Institute
Dr. Alan K. Klitzke has been appointed to the Department of Diagnostic Radiology, and R. John Pollina Jr., has joined the faculty in the Department of Neurosurgery at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Dr. Klitzke will provide diagnostic evaluations to patients using CT, medical ultrasound, MRI, and nuclear medicine, including image-guided biopsies and position emission tomography (PET)/CT. Dr. Pollina will specialize in the treatment of patients involving the nervous system, with specialty interest in tumors of the spinal cord and column. more...
UAMS Myeloma Institute Recives $4.5 Million to Study Genetics of Disease
UAMS Arkansas Cancer Research Center
UAMS Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy has received $4.5 million from Stephen and Nancy Grand from San Francisco to establish a one-of-a kind laboratory for research into the genetic profile of multiple myeloma. The Nancy and Stephen Grand Laboratory for Myeloma Proteomics, headed by Dr. Ricky D. Edmondson, will be the first in the country with sophisticated mass spectrometry equipment dedicated to thorough analysis of the proteins produced by myeloma tumor cells and bone marrow cells. more...
Alzheimer’s Enzyme Acts as Tumor Suppressor
The Burnham Institute
Researchers, led by Dr. Huaxi Xu, associate professor and program director at the Burnham Institute, have provided the first evidence that gamma-secretase, an enzyme key to the progression of Alzheimer’s, acts as a tumor suppressor by altering the pathway of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), a potential treatment target for cancer. The findings reveal a limitation of targeting gamma-secretase for treatment of Alzheimer’s and potentially other diseases. The study will be published online by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. more...
Kevin Fox Named First Mariann T. and Robert J. MacDonald Professor in Breast Cancer Care Excellence
Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Dr. Kevin R. Fox, medical director of the Rena Rowan Breast Center at the Abramson Cancer Center, has been named the inaugural recipient of the Mariann T. and Robert J. MacDonald Professorship in Breast Cancer Care Excellence. The professorship was established through a $2 million gift from Mariann T. and Robert J. MacDonald of Naples, FL. “Dr. Fox exemplifies what it means to be a healer and world-class physician,” said Dr. Craig B. Thompson, director of the Abramson Cancer Center. “He is a committed researcher and a dedicated educator, as well as a caring, compassionate clinician, with a record of outstanding academic and clinical performance.” more...
Chemotherapy Combination Shows Benefits
Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute
In a phase II clinical study recently completed at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, researchers found that combining an oral dose of Xeloda with a weekly intravenous dose of Docetaxel in patients with metastatic prostate cancer improves patient remission and survival outcomes. “This combination appears extremely effective,” said Dr. Ulka Vaishampayan, chair of the genitourinary multidisciplinary team. “We had wheelchair bound patients return to their regular lives. Patients feel so much better and their overall quality of life improves dramatically.” This work was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO) meeting, June 1, 2007. more...
Pitt Scientists Find New Contributor to Aggressive Cancers
University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers have reported that mutations in the cell adhesion molecule known as integrin alpha 7 lead to unchecked tumor cell proliferation and a significantly higher incidence in cancer spreading to several cancer cell lines. These findings suggest that integrin alpha 7 represents an important new target for cancer therapy and prevention. In the study, researchers, led by Dr. Jianhua Luo, examined whether integrin alpha 7 is mutated in specimens of various human cancers as well as whether the level of integrin alpha 7 expression is associated with clinical relapse of human cancers. The findings are published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. more...
Loss of Stem Cells Correlates with Premature Aging in Animal Study
Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Researchers at the Abramson Cancer Center have found that deleting a gene important in embryo development leads to premature aging and loss of stem cell reservoirs in adult mice. The gene, ATR, is essential for the body’s response to damaged DNA, and mutations in proteins in the DNA damage response, causing certain types of cancer and other disorders in humans. First author, Dr. Eric J. Brown explains that the findings may benefit the aging and oncology fields since premature aging syndromes and many cancers involve the loss of DNA repair genes. The study is published in the inaugural issue of Cell Stem Cell. more...
OHSU’s Leukemia Leader Brian Druker is Elected to National Academy of Sciences
OHSU Cancer Institute
Dr. Brian Druker, a world-renowned cancer specialist who helped develop the cancer pill Gleevec and the incoming director at the Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Institute, has been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, an honor society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific research and dedicated to the progress of science and technology. “Brian Druker is an outstanding scientist, physician, teacher, and human being whose work ignited what has now become a revolution in cancer treatment,” said Dr. Grover Bagby, current director of OHSU Cancer Institute. Dr. Druker will assume the position of director in July 2007. Dr. Druker is also the JELD-WEN Chair of Leukemia Research at the Cancer Institute and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. more...
CIRM Awards $3.79 Million to Burnham Institute
The Burnham Institute
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) awarded $3.79 million to the Burnham Institute for development of a collaborative shared laboratory, providing cell culture and core services, and for expansion of the Institute’s training courses in stem cell research. Dr. Jeanne Loring, co-director of Burnham’s stem cell center, will become the director of the CIRM stem cell training program and shared laboratory. Burnham Institute was one of 17 institutions to receive grants from CIRM for a total of more than $50 million. more...
Clinical Trial Results Change Standard of Care for Pancreatic Cancer Patients
Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute
Dr. Philip A. Philip, professor of medicine and oncology at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, presented the outcome of one of the largest randomized phase III pancreas cancer clinical trials in North America. The clinical trial questioned the benefit of using the anticancer monoclonal antibody Cetusimab to target the epidermal growth factor receptor in advanced pancreatic cancer patients. The researchers found that contrary to previous hypotheses, Cetuximab, along with Gemcitabine, did not offer increased benefits in treating a patient’s pancreatic cancer. The results were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in Chicago, IL. more...
New Mouse Model Closely Mimics Human Cancers
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Dr. Ronald DePinho, a researcher at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, has created mice that form tumors that are more genetically complex and unstable to better model human cancers. The report, posted online by the journal Nature, concludes that the more human-like mouse model of cancer will aid the search for cancer-causing genes and improve the predictive value of laboratory drug testing. more...
Virus Widely Used in Gene Therapy Research Yields Important Clues to Genomic Instability
University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute
The source of genomic instability has been established for many inherited human cancers, but the processes and genes involved in cancers that arise sporadically remain largely unknown. However, a research team, led by Dr. Hiroyuki Nakai at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, reported at the 10th annual meeting of the American Society of Gene Therapy May 30-June 3, the ability to study the potential cause of genomic instability in sporadic cancers using a recombinant adeno-associated virus, the same virus that many researchers around the world use for gene therapy experiments. more...
ASCO Elects New Board Members
American Society of Clinical Oncology
Dr. Nancy E. Davidson, from Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, has become President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and Dr. Richard L. Schilsky, from the University of Chicago Medical Center, has been selected President-elect. In addition to her work with ASCO, Dr. Davidson is also the director of the Breast Cancer Research Program at Kimmel. Dr. Schilsky is an internationally recognized expert in gastrointestinal cancer and the associate dean of clinical research at the University of Chicago Medical Center. more...