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News from the Association of American Cancer InstitutesSeptember 2016
The Association is dedicated to reducing the burden of cancer by enhancing the impact of the nation's leading academic cancer centers.
AACI Update is an e-newsletter for the cancer center directors and key contacts at AACI member institutions as well as individuals interested in the cancer center-related activities of AACI. AACI Update reports on the progress of AACI initiatives along with other AACI endeavors that benefit the cancer community and highlights important news and events at AACI member institutions.

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Five Cancer Center Directors Selected as New AACI Leaders

Left to right: Roy Jensen, MD, Peter D. Emanuel, MD, Karen E. Knudsen, PhD, Norman Sharpless, MD, and Eduardo Sotomayor, MD

The Association of American Cancer Institutes congratulates Roy Jensen, MD, on his election as the association's Vice President/President-elect. Dr. Jensen is director of The University of Kansas Cancer Center. His term will start on October 23, during the AACI/CCAF annual meeting, in Chicago.

AACI members have also chosen Karen E. Knudsen, PhD, Norman Sharpless, MD, and Eduardo Sotomayor, MD, to serve three-year terms on AACI's Board of Directors. Peter D. Emanuel, MD, will serve a two-year term after being appointed to fill the seat held by Robert DiPaola, MD, who became dean of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine earlier this year. more...

Members of Congress Cole, Fudge to be Honored at Annual Meeting
U.S. Representatives Tom Cole (R-OK) and Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH) will receive the 2016 AACI Public Service Award on October 24, in Chicago during the AACI/CCAF Annual Meeting. AACI's Board of Directors, the AACI Annual Meeting Program Committee and the AACI Government Relations Forum Steering Committee selected the members of Congress for recognition.

Rep. Cole is chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, the subcommittee that funds medical research. Rep. Fudge is a co-sponsor of the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act. Both members of Congress have been outspoken supporters of the cancer centers in their home states. more...

Eighth Annual AACI CRI Meeting Focuses on Operational Efficiency
The Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI) Clinical Research Initiative (CRI) convened its eighth annual meeting in July in Chicago. The 2016 meeting covered two full days and was attended by more than 300 clinical research office leaders, medical directors, cancer center administrators, representatives from NCI and industry. This year's meeting focused on operational efficiency and ways cancer centers are evaluating current practices and improving their management of their clinical trials programs to be able to provide novel cancer treatments to patients. more...

New Progress Report Highlights Clinical Research Initiative
Now in its eighth year, AACI's Clinical Research Initiative pursues a variety of objectives, including developing better methods to disseminate information across cancer centers, identifying and addressing clinical research challenges, and measuring progress.

A new AACI report, Charting A Path to Improved Cancer Clinical Research, was released to AACI members in July. The report chronicles the activities and progress of the AACI Clinical Research Initiative since it was established in 2009, and highlights its contributions to enhancing the efficient implementation of cancer clinical trials and improving patient care at AACI cancer centers. more...

News from the Centers
Awards & Honors
Sadler to Receive Award from American Society of Hematology
Siteman Cancer Center
Evan Sadler, PhD, MD, a professor of medicine and director of the Division of Hematology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, will receive the 2016 Henry M. Stratton Medal for Basic Science. The award from the American Society of Hematology recognizes two investigators each year whose contributions to hematology research are well-recognized and have taken place over many years. more...
Grants & Gifts
Rising Rates of Kidney Cancer Targeted with Funding from NCI
Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, UT Southwestern Medical Center
Bolstering its progress in addressing the rising threat of kidney cancer, the Kidney Cancer Program at UT Southwestern Medical Center's Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center has received $11 million in funding from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Kidney cancer currently has no method of early detection and is particularly challenging to treat. more...
$10.4 Million Awarded for Pancreatic Cancer Research
Siteman Cancer Center
The National Cancer Institute has awarded a $10.4 million, five-year grant to Washington University researchers and physicians at Siteman Cancer Center to lead a national group of experts in collaborative pancreatic cancer research. The award will help scientists pursue new treatments for the deadliest form of the disease, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, including development of more effective chemotherapies and a vaccine.

Partner institutions are the University of Rochester, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Johns Hopkins University. William Hawkins, MD, is principal investigator. more...
Federal Contract Secured for Preclinical Cancer Drug Development Work
University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute
The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, partner with UPMC CancerCancer, secured a highly prestigious contract from the National Cancer Institute to perform preclinical research crucial to the development of new cancer drugs. This commitment could bring up to $10 million in research projects to UPCI over the next five years. more...
Researcher Lands $8M Grant to Improve Cancer Outcomes for Minority Men
Hollings Cancer Center
The Medical University of South Carolina's (MUSC) Hollings Cancer Center and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences were awarded an $8 million grant from the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities and the National Cancer Institute to establish the Transdisciplinary Collaborative Center in Precision Medicine and Minority Men's Health at the Medical University of South Carolina. In addition to MUSC, the center's collaborating academic and community partners include the University of Pennsylvania, Hampton University, and the University of Texas Health Sciences Center, San Antonio and the Low Country Area Health Education Center, the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Black Leadership Initiative on Cancer, and the Hope Institute in Baltimore. more...
Moffitt Receives Two NCI Grants
Moffitt Cancer Center
Moffitt researchers David Basanta, PhD, and Conor Lynch, PhD, have been awarded a U01 grant from the National Cancer Institute to investigate prostate cancer metastasis. Also, as part of a new U01 grant awarded to Jae K. Lee, PhD, Robert Gillies, PhD, John Heine, PhD and Matthew Schabath, PhD, the Moffitt Imaging Biomarker Validation Center will be established to discover, develop, and validate biomarkers for risk assessment, detection, and molecular diagnosis and prognosis of early cancer. The grants total $6.6 million. more...
Grant Bolsters Cancer Drug Discovery Efforts
Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center
The Robert J. Kleberg Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation has awarded a $3 million grant to Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) investigators in support of VICC's drug discovery program. The gift awarded over the next three years from the private, San Antonio, Texas-based foundation will enable VICC researchers to pursue the development of new compounds to block the activity of cancer-causing genes and proteins that had previously been considered "undruggable." more...
Grant to Support Research of Deadliest Form of Prostate Cancer
University of Florida Health Cancer Center
University of Florida researcher Dietmar Siemann, PhD, has received a five-year, $1.7 million grant to study when, how and why prostate cancer, which physicians consider highly curable, sometimes spreads, and to develop treatment options for this uncommon but life-threatening occurrence. Siemann and co-investigator Yao Dai, PhD, are particularly interested in the role hypoxia plays in the development of metastasis in prostate cancer patients. more...
Researcher to Study a Two-Pronged Approach Against Colorectal Cancers
University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center
Ellen Beswick, PhD, won a $1.7 million grant to study G-CSF, a protein that could be key in attacking colorectal cancers. Beswick's previous work showed G-CSF to reduce tumor growth and enhance immune response in colon and stomach tumors. The new grant will support research to study how G-CSF affects tumor cells and how it recruits different immune cells to the tumor, and to confirm these findings in human tissues. more...
Cincinnati Firms Support NCI Designation Effort
University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute
Two Greater Cincinnati companies have donated $1 million each to the University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute to help it achieve National Cancer Institute designation. The funds will be used to help recruit a physician scientist to serve as the new division chief of hematology oncology at the UC College of Medicine and translational director for the cancer institute. In addition, the money will be used to continue recruitment of researchers and clinicians who are experts in drug discovery and other specialties to support the diagnosis and treatment of solid tumor and blood cell cancers. William Barrett, MD, is director of the UC Cancer Institute. more...
Leadership Transitions
Karanicolas Joins Molecular Therapeutics Program
Fox Chase Cancer Center, Temple Health
John Karanicolas, PhD, has joined Fox Chase Cancer Center as an associate professor in the Molecular Therapeutics Program. Karanicolas, a computational chemist, earned his PhD from the Scripps Research Institute. He completed his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington. He joins Fox Chase from the University of Kansas, where he served as an associate professor in the Department of Molecular Biosciences and Center for Computational Biology. more...
Kim Appointed Director of Biostatistics Core
UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
Mi-Ok Kim, PhD, has joined the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center as director of the Biostatistics Core. The Core is responsible for providing support for protocol development, review and analysis for clinical studies, and statistical expertise for research collaborations with Cancer Center investigators in all disciplines across the spectrum of basic, clinical and population sciences. Dr. Kim joins UCSF from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. more...
Research Highlights
Compound Shows Promise as Next-Generation Prostate Cancer Therapy
Duke Cancer Institute
In the search for new ways to attack recurrent prostate cancer, researchers at Duke Health report that a novel compound appears to have a unique way of blocking testosterone from fueling the tumors in mice. The potential foundation for a next-generation therapy, called tetraaryl cyclobutane, or CB, is being studied as an option for prostate tumors that have grown resistant to current anti-androgen drugs, notably enzalutamide. John D. Norris, PhD, was senior author on the study. more...
Scientists Discover New Therapeutic Target for Lung Cancer Driven by KRAS
Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, UT Southwestern Medical Center
UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have identified a new way to target lung cancer through the KRAS gene, one of the most commonly mutated genes in human cancer and one researchers have so far had difficulty targeting successfully. Researchers studying the underlying biology of KRAS in lung cancer determined that activity resulting from the ACSL3 gene is essential for these lung cancer cells to survive, and that suppressing ACSL3 causes these lung cancer cells to die. more...
Moon Shots Program APOLLO Project Aims to Expose Cancer's Evasive Action
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
A study that indicates how advanced melanoma responds to an immunotherapy, demonstrates a revolutionary approach from The University of Texas MD Anderson Moon Shots Program that relies on longitudinal sampling and deep molecular analyses to understand the dynamics of cancer response to treatment. The Adaptive Patient-Oriented Longitudinal Learning and Optimization (APOLLO) will gather high-quality biopsies and blood samples taken before, during and at the end of treatment, prepare them for genomic/molecular analysis and immune response monitoring by expert platforms, and then deposit the results, with clinical information, in a secure, comprehensive database for researchers to address crucial questions and improve treatment. more...
Nanotechnology Researchers Find New Way to Target Tumors
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Even as researchers design more-potent cancer therapies, they face a major challenge in making sure the drugs affect tumors specifically without also harming normal cells. Memorial Sloan Kettering molecular pharmacologist Daniel Heller, PhD, and colleagues have devised a novel strategy for addressing this problem. Rather than aiming directly at cancer cells, they are focusing on targeting a molecule in the blood vessels that feed tumors and using nanotechnology to deliver tiny particles that will stick to the target and unleash their payload of cancer drugs. more...
An Emerging View of Evolution is Informing Cancer Research
Stanford Cancer Institute
Sitting in his office, at the Canary Center at Stanford for Cancer Early Detection, Parag Mallick, PhD, played a video on a computer: It showed a flock of birds wheeling in a blue sky. An assistant professor of radiology, Mallick said the way birds in flight move like a single, giant, living thing is key to an emerging view of the way cancer cells behave. more...
Scientists Track Metabolic Pathways to Find Drug Combinations for Pancreatic Cancer
Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center
In a new study using laboratory-grown cells and mice, Johns Hopkins scientists report that a method they used to track metabolic pathways heavily favored by cancer cells provides scientific evidence for combining anti-cancer drugs, including one in a nanoparticle format developed at Johns Hopkins, that specifically target those pathways. more...
Insights on Lung Micro-Environment Explain Why Cancer Spreads to the Lungs
The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center
James Cancer Hospital & Solove Research Institute

The same mechanisms that prevent people from having an inflammatory response to harmless environmental exposures in day-to-day life could also all allow rogue cancer cells to spread to the lungs, according to new research from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. Researchers have discovered and described how the lung's unique underlying immune environment enables cancer to readily spread to the organ. David Clever, PhD, first author of the manuscript. more...
'Bursts' of Chromosome Changes Fuel Breast Cancer Tumor Growth
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
As with most cancers, triple-negative breast cancer cells have abnormal amounts of chromosomes or DNA copy number aberrations (CNAs) in their genomes. A new study used single cell sequencing technology to provide previously unknown details about how and when CNAs impact tumor formation and growth, information that may have significant implications for diagnosis and treatment. The research results revealed that chromosomal changes occur in short, punctuated "bursts" at the earliest stages of tumor growth. Nicholas Navin, PhD, was lead author on the study. more...
Secrets of Age-Related Diseases May Lie in Cellular Targets
Roswell Park Cancer Institute
New insights on age-related diseases may hold the key to both delaying aging and, in the process, reducing the occurrence of diseases including cancer. These findings have been reported by a team from Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Everon Biosciences. Andrei Gudkov, PhD, DSci, is senior author on the study. more...
Immediate Aggressive Treatment May Not be Needed for all Adults with Advanced Kidney Cancer
Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Cleveland Clinic
Some adults with advanced kidney cancer (renal-cell carcinoma) who have slow-growing disease can live for months and even years without the disease getting worse with active surveillance, or close monitoring for evidence of disease progression, instead of having to undergo immediate treatment with highly toxic anticancer drugs, suggests new research. more...
Immune-Cell Population Predicts Immunotherapy Response in Melanoma
UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
The abundance of a subtype of white blood cells in melanoma tumors can predict whether or not patients will respond to a form of cancer immunotherapy known as checkpoint blockade, according to a new study led by UC San Francisco researchers and physicians. The research offers the beginnings of a solution to a puzzle that has vexed oncologists: Though many patients with previously untreatable cancers are in remission after receiving checkpoint-blockade drugs, only about 20 percent of patients who receive them respond. more...
Researchers Assess Adequacy of Lymph Node Dissection for Papillary Thyroid Cancer
Duke Cancer Institute
A new study by Duke cancer researchers is providing the first-ever guidance for physicians and patients on what constitutes an adequate lymph node dissection, especially in cases of intermediate-risk papillary thyroid cancer (PTC). Studies show that most intermediate-risk PTC patients have between one and three lymph nodes removed, which might not be enough to determine if there is in fact metastatic disease. more...
Socioeconomic Factors Affect Younger Multiple Myeloma Patients' Survival
UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center
A new University of Alabama at Birmingham study reveals socioeconomic factors, not race or ethnicity, influence the survival of younger multiple myeloma patients. Advances in treatment of multiple myeloma have led to improved survival, predominantly among young and white patients, with fewer benefits experienced by patients of other ethnicities. Luciano Jose Costa, MD, PhD, led a team that studied data of more than 10,000 multiple myeloma patients in the United States who were under the age of 65. more...
Scientists Use Already-Approved Drugs to Force Cancer Cell Death
University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center
New research from the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center sheds light on how leukemia cells cheat death. Alexandre Chigaev, PhD, and his team describe how leukemia cells expel cyclic AMP to evade apoptosis while normal cells cannot. The team discovered that some FDA-approved drugs can block this cyclic-AMP expulsion process in the leukemia cells but that these drugs do not affect normal cells. Dr. Chigaev hopes to begin leukemia clinical trials soon. more...
Venetoclax Safe, Shows Promise in Patients With Acute Myelogenous Leukemia
American Association for Cancer Research
Patients whose acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) had relapsed or was resistant to chemotherapy and those who were deemed unable to tolerate chemotherapy experienced responses to the selective BCL-2 inhibitor venetoclax (Venclexta), with complete remissions in some, according to phase II clinical trial data published in Cancer Discovery, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. more...
Mice Survive Brain Cancer Tumors Lacking Key Surface Proteins
Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital and Seidman Cancer Center
A new study has characterized a checkpoint protein that allows certain brain tumor cells to avoid the immune system. Tumors regularly avoid detection by decorating themselves with proteins that mimic those found on healthy cells. This protective shield allows them to grow undetected, often with deadly results. more...
Study Suggests Men with Metastatic Prostate Cancer Be Tested for Inherited Mutations
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
New findings by a team of researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering and five other institutions suggest that all men with metastatic prostate cancer - regardless of age or family history - be tested for inherited mutations in genes that are responsible for DNA repair. These genes, which include the BRCA genes, correct errors that arise when cells duplicate their DNA before dividing. The other institutions involved in the study were Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the University of Washington School of Medicine, the University of Michigan, and the Institute of Cancer Research Royal Marsden Hospital in London. more...
Aggressive Cancer's Aggressiveness May Prove its Achilles' Heel
University of Virginia Cancer Center
Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have discovered a flaw in the armor of the most aggressive form of lung cancer, a weakness that doctors may be able to exploit to slow or even stop the disease. Remarkably, this vulnerability stems from the very aggressiveness that makes the cancer so deadly. Using an existing drug, the scientists were able to halt the progression of small cell lung cancer (SCLC) tumors in genetically engineered mice. SCLC is known for spreading quickly throughout the body. more...
Cutting Off the Cancer Fuel Supply
Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
Research from investigators at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Princeton University has identified a new approach to cancer therapy in cutting off a cancer cell's 'fuel supply' by targeting a cellular survival mechanism known as autophagy. Future research should clarify if the autophagy pathways identified in Kras-driven lung cancers can be applied to other forms of cancer. more...
Stem Cells May Speed Up Screening of Drugs for Rare Cancers
Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center say they have developed a system that uses transformed human stem cells to speed up screening of existing drugs that might work against rare brain and other cancers. A report on their proof-of-concept work describes experiments that transform human stem cells into an aggressive and rare form of pediatric brain cancer called medulloblastoma. Those cancer cells' genetic profiles can then be rapidly compared with hundreds of common, lab-grown human cancer cells already tested against existing drugs. more...
Increased Eye Cancer Risk Linked to Pigmentation Genes That Dictate Eye Color
The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center
James Cancer Hospital & Solove Research Institute

Roughly 2,500 people are diagnosed with uveal melanoma in the United States annually. Previous clinical data suggests uveal melanoma is more common in Caucasians and individuals with light eye coloration; however, the genetic mechanisms underlying this cancer's development were largely unknown. In a new study, scientists report the first evidence of a strong association between genes linked to eye color and development of uveal melanoma. Reported data suggests that inherited genetic factors associated with eye and skin pigmentation could increase a person's risk for uveal melanoma. more...
Other News
Cancer Community Network Grows, Transforming Regional Cancer Care
UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Health System Cancer Community Network is leading the way for how oncology care is being delivered in the region. Launched in 2010, the network now consists of 12 hospitals across Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi that emphasize collaboration between UAB and community cancer centers to provide evidence-based, high-value cancer care to patients in their local communities. more...
Job Opportunities
Director of Finance and Administration/Associate Director  
Stanford Cancer Institute

Associate Center Director (ACD) of Population Science  
Moffitt Cancer Center
Meeting Announcements

2016 AACI/CCAF Annual Meeting
Register now:
October 23-25, 2016
Westin Chicago River North

4th Annual AACI Physician Clinical Leadership Initiative Meeting

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Please RSVP to by October 14, 2016, space is limited.
October 23, 2016, 4:00-6:00pm CT
Westin Chicago River North

9th Annual AACI Clinical Research Initiative Meeting

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July 12-13, 2017
Loews Chicago O'Hare Hotel

2017 AACI/CCAF Annual Meeting

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October 15-17, 2017
Grand Hyatt Washington
Washington, DC