The AACI Clinical Research Innovation (CRI) Steering Committee, with the assistance of peer reviewers from the CRI community, have selected three abstracts from 77 submissions for formal presentation at the 12th Annual AACI CRI Meeting, July 7-8. Winning abstract authors represent Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center; University of Hawai'i Cancer Center, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa; and Mays Cancer Center, UT Health San Antonio. The three winning abstracts will be presented individually during a virtual session on Wednesday, July 8.
Meagan Johnson will deliver the keynote presentation, "Zap the Generational Gap," at 1:35 pm eastern time on Tuesday, July 7 during the 12th Annual AACI CRI Meeting. Johnson, a "generational humorist," challenges audiences to think differently and act decisively when working across generations. Since 1997, she has worked with a variety of organizations and associations to help employees find common ground and build on the unique strengths and values of each generation.
For a joint virtual day of action on Friday, June 5, AACI and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) have drafted a letter for our associations' members to share with their representatives. The letter builds on AACI's previous request for increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in fiscal year (FY) 2021, with additional requests related to COVID-19.
AACI's Clinical Research Innovation (CRI) will host "Implementing the Shared Investigator Platform" at 2:00 pm eastern on Thursday, June 18. Members of AACI's Shared Investigator Platform (SIP) Task Force will share experiences and suggested workflows for the successful implementation of the SIP. For members who may have questions about the utilization of the SIP platform, a representative from Cognizant will address technology solutions and ways centers can move forward with SIP implementation.
In recent years there has been an increase in the number of social engineering attacks across the nonprofit industry. The attacks range from email phishing to ransomware attacks and can cost organizations significant resources. This is especially relevant now, when many individuals are working remotely and defenses may be lowered due to a focus on COVID-19 pandemic.
Thank you to the communications professionals who consistently provide AACI with news from their cancer centers — especially during the COVID-19 crisis. The July 2020 issue of AACI Update will be published on Wednesday, July 1. The deadline to submit your cancer center news is Friday, June 26. Please send your cancer center news to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roeland Nusse, PhD, professor of developmental biology, is the recipient of Canada’s Gairdner International Award for his work on understanding the role of the Wnt signaling pathway in normal development and in cancer. Nusse plans to donate his award to UNICEF to help provide protective equipment for health care workers caring for children amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Joan Weliky Conaway, PhD, an investigator at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research and member of The University of Kansas Cancer Center’s Cancer Biology research program, has been elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences for her distinguished and continuing achievements in original scientific research.
Two University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center members were recently elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Arul Chinnaiyan, MD, PhD, is a molecular pathologist and physician at the leading edge of translational cancer research and precision oncology. Janet L. Smith, PhD, focuses on understanding biological processes through knowledge of the structures of key protein molecules.
Christopher R. Cogle, MD, a professor of hematology and oncology at the University of Florida, is among the 10 leaders announced by the National Academy of Medicine as 2020 Emerging Leaders in Health and Medicine Scholars. Dr. Cogle discovered that adult blood stem cells make blood vessels. He used that discovery to invent and patent new therapeutics for patients with blood cancers and cardiovascular diseases.
A five-year grant of more than $1.86 million from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences will fund research aimed at reducing long-term neurological damage caused by a common cancer treatment regimen. Fen Xia, MD, PhD, received the grant for her project titled "The Novel Role of Sirtuin 2 in Regulation of Transcription-Associated DNA Damage Repair."
Hunter Underhill, MD, PhD, a Huntsman Cancer Institute brain cancer researcher, was awarded a special National Cancer Institute grant to advance his research in brain tumor detection. Dr. Underhill's award will provide approximately $1.75 million over five years to pursue new ways to detect glioblastoma, a type of aggressive and deadly brain tumor.
G. David Roodman, MD, PhD, has been awarded a five-year, $1.6 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to study ways to build bone and decrease tumor growth in multiple myeloma bone disease. Previously, Dr. Roodman and colleagues had shown the importance of the marrow microenvironment on the growth of the tumor cells in the bone destructive process.
Zhijun Yin, PhD has received the National Cancer Institute’s Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Award for Early Stage Investigators. The award will help Dr. Yin continue his work using machine learning methods to automatically stratify risk across the electronic health record population, based in part on messages sent by patients to the health care team via patient portals such as My Health at Vanderbilt.
Shikhar Mehrotra, PhD, and Sophie Paczesny, MD, PhD, have been named co-leaders of the Cancer Immunology program at Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Mehrotra’s appointment began March 2. Dr. Paczesny’s appointment begins July 1.
Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center announces the appointment of new leaders in three key areas of clinical care: Mary Ann Long, RN, MS, returns as senior vice president of nursing; Laurie J. Smith, MA, is the new vice president of clinical research services; and Timothy Quinn, MD, has been promoted to chief of critical care.
Timothy M. Fan, DVM, PhD, professor of veterinary oncology, has been appointed as program leader of the Cancer Center at Illinois research program in Cancer Discovery Platforms Across the Engineering-Biology Continuum. Dr. Fan will co-lead this research program with Brendan Harley, ScD, and he is is the current president of the Veterinary Cancer Society.
UK Markey Cancer Center announces that medical sociologist Pamela Hull, PhD, will join the center and serve as its associate director of population science and community impact. Dr. Hull’s expertise is in the development, testing and dissemination of behavioral interventions to promote cancer prevention behaviors, and she has more than 15 years of experience conducting community-engaged research.
The Wistar Institute announces the appointment of Italo Tempera, PhD, as associate professor in the Gene Expression & Regulation Program of The Wistar Institute Cancer Center. Dr. Tempera is a molecular virologist with special expertise in the study of the Epstein Barr virus and how it regulates expression of its genes in the host cell during infection.
The University of Colorado Cancer Center announces that Christopher Lieu, MD, is now associate director of clinical research. Dr. Lieu was interim associate director for eight months. For the past nine years Dr. Lieu has been an investigator on numerous CU Cancer Center studies, including taking the lead on early-onset colorectal cancer research.
Yale Cancer Center announces the appointment of Robert Bona, MD, as professor of medicine (hematology) and inaugural director of the Benign Hematology Program at Smilow Cancer Hospital. He will also join as medical director of Smilow's Hemophilia Treatment Center for the Pediatric Hematology & Oncology Program.
The Wistar Institute announces the appointment of molecular systems biologist Bin Tian, PhD, as professor in the cancer center. Dr. Tian focuses on RNA biology and understanding how gene expression is regulated at the post-transcriptional level. His research involves interdisciplinary approaches, including molecular biology, genomics and computational biology, to study RNA biogenesis and metabolism.
Richard J. Price, PhD, of UVA’s School of Medicine and School of Engineering, is using focused soundwaves to overcome the natural "blood-brain barrier," which protects the brain from harmful pathogens. Gene therapy introduced via focused ultrasound would essentially reprogram faulty cells.
Currently available immunotherapies in most cases either don’t work at all, or work, then stop working. The various mechanisms driving why this happens are not fully understood. The Hanks Lab at Duke Cancer Institute, led by Brent Hanks, MD, PhD, is directed at figuring out why this "immunotherapy resistance" is happening.
An ongoing, multicenter clinical trial involving Cleveland Clinic has found that a new blood test can accurately detect more than 50 types of cancer while still in the early stages – before any clinical signs or symptoms of the disease. In cases where the test detected cancer, the test determined where it was located in the body with 93 percent accuracy.
Stanford scientists have taken important steps toward figuring out how to use immune therapy for a group of severe pediatric brain tumors known as atypical teratoid/rhabdoid tumors. A new study identifies a molecular target that enables engineered, cancer-fighting immune cells to recognize and attack the tumors while leaving healthy brain tissue alone. Crystal Mackall, MD, is senior study author.
Glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive form of cancer in the brain, is typically fatal. But new findings by VCU Massey Cancer Center and VCU Institute of Molecular Medicine researchers could help increase the effectiveness of the most common current treatments with the addition of lumefantrine, an FDA-approved drug used to treat malaria. Paul B. Fisher, MPh, PhD, FNAI, is principal investigator of the study.
A group of graduate students working on a class project at the University of Florida developed a critical review of what’s known—and unknown—about the effects of certain cancer drugs on aquatic ecosystems. Their conclusion: studies are lacking that characterize these impacts, and more research is needed to inform future regulations.
A study led by Justin D. Lathia, PhD, identified sex differences in anti-tumor immune response, which served as the basis for a new therapeutic strategy against glioblastoma (GBM). While previous research has shown that males are predisposed to GBM, the findings uncover sexual dimorphism in immune-suppressing myeloid cell subset, prevalence, and localization as a contributor of disease pathology.
Children with the genetic condition neurofibromatosis type 1 can develop brain and nerve tumors that may lead to vision loss. New research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis indicates that the growth of these tumors is driven by nearby noncancerous neurons and immune cells, and that targeting immune cells slows tumor growth in mice. David H. Gutmann, MD, PhD, is the study's senior author.
A collaborative study between laboratories of Ramin Shiekhattar, PhD, and Stephen D. Nimer, MD, director of Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Miller School of Medicine, has developed a new anti-cancer approach called "targeted chemotherapy," which encourages tumor cells to commit suicide but does not trigger dormancy.
A group of researchers, including Duke Cancer Institute’s Andrew Armstrong, MD, MSc, FACP, has published patient-reported outcomes on the ARCHES study. The study evaluated the efficacy and safety of enzalutamide, an androgen-receptor inhibitor, in conjunction with androgen deprivation therapy in men with metastatic hormone-sensitive prostate cancer, as compared to ADT alone.
A collaboration between IU School of Medicine cancer researchers Xiongbin Lu, PhD, and Sophie Paczesny, MD, PhD, has identified ST2 as a novel checkpoint molecule that could help T cells become more effective. The finding could provide additional treatments for a larger number of colorectal cancer patients via a new immunotherapy pathway.
Scientists have found a first-line treatment that improves survival for people with hepatocellular carcinoma. A combination of atezolizumab, an immunotherapy drug, and bevacizumab, an anti-angiogenesis drug that inhibits the growth of tumors’ blood vessels, improved overall survival and reduced the risk of death by 42 percent. Richard Finn, MD, is principal investigator.
Enrollment in a supportive oncodermatology program is associated with a significantly improved quality of life score, according to a recent survey from GW Cancer Center. Supportive oncodermatology is a growing field that provides treatment and preventive care to oncology patients who experience adverse dermatologic events associated with their cancer treatments.
For years, surgeons have operated on pancreatic cancer patients to remove what they thought was a localized tumor only to discover that the disease had spread to other, inoperable parts of the body. Now, Ajay Goel, PhD, MS, AGAF, a City of Hope molecular scientist, may have found a way to prevent ineffective surgeries and prolong the lives of these patients.
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Innovent Biologics, Inc. has announced a strategic collaboration agreement to co-develop TYVYT® (sintilimab injection), Innovent’s anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibody, in rare cancers in the U.S.
Scientists at Huntsman Cancer Institute and collaborators at the University of California, San Francisco have published research extending our understanding of the intricate process of cell division. They discovered the protein LEM2 has two important functions during cell division. First, LEM2 creates seals in the protective coating of forming nuclei that keep the two sets of DNA shielded from damage. Second, LEM2 recruits factors that disassemble the apparatus of fibers responsible for separating the DNA sets.
Sixteen physicians, researchers, and educators from Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center have collaborated with the Tennessee Cancer Coalition, Tennessee Department of Health, and other statewide partners to create the Tennessee State Cancer Plan 2018-2022. Jennifer Pietenpol, PhD, is executive vice president for research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and director of the cancer center.
To prevent domestic shortages of critical medications, the Medicines for All Institute, based in the Virginia Commonwealth University College of Engineering and led by VCU Massey Cancer Center researcher B. Frank Gupton, PhD, has joined forces with pharmaceutical industry leaders to bring manufacturing of vulnerable pharmaceuticals and their ingredients back to the United States.
During the pandemic, cancer patients undergoing treatment or participating in clinical trials at The University of Kansas Cancer Center don’t have to worry about whether they can get a test for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The research arm of KU Cancer Center stepped up to allow patients to opt in to a study that provided the test and also covered its cost. Roy Jensen, MD, is director of KU Cancer Center and president of AACI.
Researchers in the Ludwig Center at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center report they have identified a drug treatment that could—if given early enough—potentially reduce the risk of death from the most serious complication of COVID-19. Prazosin, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved alpha blocker that relaxes blood vessels, may specifically target an extreme inflammatory process often referred to as cytokine storm syndrome that disproportionately affects older adults with underlying health conditions, and is associated with disease severity and increased risk of death in COVID-19 infection.
A unique two-drug immunotherapy combination first evaluated at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center as an approach for treating some cancers will soon be available to cancer patients with COVID-19 through a clinical trial at Roswell Park. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized clinical researchers at the center to conduct a study assessing the safety and effectiveness of giving both rintatolimod and interferon alfa to cancer patients with COVID-19.
A team of data scientists and cancer doctors from the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center and the U-M School of Public Health have developed a free, web-based application—the OncCOVID app—which draws on large, national cancer data sets to help assess the risk from of immediate treatment versus delayed treatment, depending on a patient’s individual characteristics, as well as on COVID’s impact on their local community.
David Peabody, PhD, and Bryce Chackerian, PhD, at the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center, are creating vaccines from particles that are the opposite of Trojan horses: they look deadly on the outside but are harmless on the inside. The spherical virus-like particles can be engineered to display viral epitopes on their surfaces, inciting the immune system to produce antibodies against the epitope. The technology has been used to create vaccines that target human papillomavirus, malaria, and even metastatic breast cancer cells.
Clinical leaders from the University of Kentucky’s Markey Cancer Center, College of Medicine, and College of Pharmacy have launched a clinical trial for experimental therapies to treat patients infected with COVID-19. The trial will investigate the effectiveness of azithromycin, ivermectin, and camostat mesylate —drugs that could inhibit replication of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease. The three will be tested either as stand-alone therapies or in combination with the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine.
Prior to COVID-19, video visits at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center were used sparingly. UC San Diego Health had completed just 870 telehealth appointments in the preceding three-year period. But days before California issued a stay-at-home ordinance, a plan was put in motion to provide health care providers with the tools and training they needed to convert in-person appointments to video visits. In just four days, 1,000 face-to-face clinic appointments were converted to telehealth visits.