AACI Update | May 2020

Headlines

Moffitt Appoints Cleveland as New Center Director

Moffitt Appoints Cleveland as New Center Director

John Cleveland, PhD, has been named center director and executive vice president of Moffitt Cancer Center, one of 51 National Cancer Institute-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the country. Dr. Cleveland joined Moffitt in 2014 as associate center director of basic science. He stepped into the interim center director role in December 2019.

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CRI Meeting Moves to Two-Day Virtual Format

CRI Meeting Moves to Two-Day Virtual Format

Prioritizing the health and safety of meeting attendees, AACI has shifted the 12th Annual AACI CRI Annual Meeting (July 7-8) from an in-person event to a virtual format. Registration is now free for AACI cancer center members and sustaining members. AACI is working to ensure that the online meeting will still deliver the innovative, quality education that its members have enjoyed at prior CRI annual meetings.

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AACI Calls on Congressional Leadership to Prioritize Academic Cancer Centers in COVID-19 Legislation

AACI Calls on Congressional Leadership to Prioritize Academic Cancer Centers in COVID-19 Legislation

In an April 24 letter, AACI called upon congressional leaders to consider the needs of academic cancer centers in any new COVID-19 supplemental response legislation. Priorities include supplemental appropriations for major research agencies, additional funding for hospitals and health systems, oral chemotherapy parity, requiring insurers to provide a 90-day supply of retail medications, a special enrollment period for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, increasing funding for state Medicaid programs, and assistance for people who have lost employer-sponsored health coverage.

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Submit Your Cancer Center News for June

Thank you to the communications professionals who consistently provide AACI with news from their cancer centers — especially during the COVID-19 crisis. The May 2020 issue of AACI Update will be published on Monday, June 1. The deadline to submit your cancer center news is Wednesday, May 27. Please send your cancer center news to aaciupdate@aaci-cancer.org.

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News from the Centers

Kwak Recognized by AIMBE

Kwak Recognized by AIMBE
City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center

Larry Kwak, MD, PhD, vice president and deputy director of City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, was inducted into the 2020 class of American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) Fellows. Dr. Kwak's latest research is on the first CAR T cell therapy targeting the B cell-activating factor receptor on cancerous cells with the goal of using it in patients who have relapsed after CD19 immunotherapy treatments.

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Goldberg Honored for Work in GI Cancers

Goldberg Honored for Work in GI Cancers
WVU Cancer Institute

Richard M. Goldberg, MD, retired in December 2019 as director of the WVU Cancer Institute. OncLive®, a multimedia resource focused on providing oncology professionals with patient care information, in conjunction with The Ruesch Center for the Cure of Gastrointestinal (GI) Cancers, honored Dr. Goldberg with a 2020 Luminary Award in GI Cancers for his commitment to the GI cancer community.

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Chapman Receives Geriatric Oncology Award

Chapman Receives Geriatric Oncology Award
Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Health

Andrew Chapman, DO, is being honored with the 2020 B.J. Kennedy Award for Scientific Excellence in Geriatric Oncology from the American Society of Clinical Oncology for his leadership and achievement in the field. Dr. Chapman is co-director of the Jefferson Senior Adult Oncology Center and chief of cancer services at Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Health.

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Chen Elected as ASCO Fellow

Chen Elected as ASCO Fellow
The University of Kansas Cancer Center

Ronald Chen, MD, MPH, has been named a Fellow of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (FASCO) in honor of his extraordinary volunteer service, dedication, and commitment to ASCO. The distinction of FASCO is given to those who have carried out efforts that benefit ASCO, the specialty of oncology, and the patients they serve. Dr. Chen is a leading genitourinary radiation oncologist and a renowned health services researcher.

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$9 Million Awarded to Study Extracellular RNA in Colorectal Cancer

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center

A multidisciplinary team of investigators at Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center has received a program project grant from the National Cancer Institute to explore extracellular RNA in colorectal cancer. The five-year, $9 million award will support multiple projects that aim to define fundamental biological principles about extracellular RNA signaling and the development and aggressiveness of colorectal cancer.

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$5.5 Million Grant Received to Study Health Impact of Youth Vaping

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute

Researchers at The Ohio State University will study the health effects of e-cigarettes and nicotine on youth and help develop vaping cessation programs after receiving a $5.5 million grant from the American Heart Association. The goal is to provide answers in three areas: the short- and long-term effects of e-cigarettes, including their impact on the brain, lungs and heart; the most effective regulations to reduce the appeal and addictiveness of e-cigarettes for youth; and the best methods to help youth kick their addiction to e-cigarettes. 

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$2.8 Million Grant to Help Develop Blood-Based Test for Liver Transplant Candidate Selection

UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center

Researchers from the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center received a $2.8 million, five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute to help develop a blood-based test to improve the selection and prioritization for patients with liver cancer who need liver transplantation. The work is led by Vatche Agopian, MD, and HR Tseng, PhD.

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$2.5 Million Supports Pancreatic Cancer Research

Siteman Cancer Center

Washington University scientists at Siteman Cancer Center have received a $2.5 million NCI grant to continue research into pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, which accounts for about 90 percent of all pancreatic cancer cases. The researchers seek to understand the impact that fibrosis has on immune microenvironment and radiation treatment response.

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$1.4 Million Grant Supports Radiation Oncology, Radiology Residents

Duke Cancer Institute, Duke University Medical Center

The National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health has awarded a $1.4 million R38 grant to support research by Duke Radiation Oncology and Radiology resident-investigators, beginning in July 2020. Each resident-investigator will complete 12 to 24 months of in-depth mentored research in cancer biology, radiation biology, imaging, or medical physics.

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Seven-Year Prostate Cancer Project Reaches Drug Discovery Phase

Seven-Year Prostate Cancer Project Reaches Drug Discovery Phase
Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center

The Department of Defense’s Prostate Cancer Research Program has awarded Nima Sharifi, MD, who directs the Cleveland Clinic Genitourinary Malignancies Research Center, a three-year, $1.2 million Translational Science Award. It will enable Dr. Sharifi and his collaborator, Shaun Stauffer, PhD, to continue investigating how an individual patient’s genetics can guide clinicians in treatment decision making.

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Grant Awarded to Study Physical Aspects of Cancer Cell

Grant Awarded to Study Physical Aspects of Cancer Cell
University of Florida Health Cancer Center

Tanmay Lele, PhD, has been awarded a National Cancer Institute U01 grant to examine the physical and molecular mechanisms of the cancer nucleus. Research in the Lele Lab is focused on how the cell nucleus is shaped and positioned, and how these functions become abnormal in disease conditions. A recent discovery from the Lele Lab is that nuclei are shaped by mechanical stresses generated internally in cytoskeletal structures.

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Wang Named Developmental Therapeutics Program Co-Leader

Wang Named Developmental Therapeutics Program Co-Leader
VCU Massey Cancer Center
Xiang-Yang (Shawn) Wang, PhD, has been appointed as the co-leader of the developmental therapeutics research program at VCU Massey Cancer Center. He will serve in this role alongside Steven Grant, MD, who has co-led the program since 2011, and Anthony Faber, PhD, who has co-led the program since 2018.
 

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New Surgical Oncology Chief Brings Expertise as Surgeon-Scientist

New Surgical Oncology Chief Brings Expertise as Surgeon-Scientist
Wilmot Cancer Institute, UR Medicine

Darren Carpizo, MD, PhD, has joined UR Medicine as the new chief of surgical oncology, vice-chair of basic/translational research, and co-leader of the Hallmarks of Cancer research program at Wilmot Cancer Institute. An expert in hepatobiliary and pancreatic surgery, Dr. Carpizo served on the faculty at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey since 2008.

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Serody, Basch Named to New Leadership Roles

UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

In a realignment of the division of hematology and oncology that will form two divisions from one, Jonathan Serody, MD, has been appointed chief of hematology, and Ethan Basch, MD, chief of oncology. Melba Ribeiro, MPH, will serve both divisions as associate chief for administration.

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Poynter, Harki Tapped for Leadership Roles

Poynter, Harki Tapped for Leadership Roles
Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota

Jenny Poynter, MPH, PhD, and Daniel Harki, PhD, have been appointed to the leadership team of Masonic Cancer Center. Dr. Poynter will serve as the cancer center’s first associate director for community outreach and engagement. Dr. Harki will become a co-leader of the center's Cellular Mechanisms Program. 

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Diehl Appointed Deputy Director, COO

Diehl Appointed Deputy Director, COO
Case Comprehensive Cancer Center

J. Alan Diehl has been appointed deputy director and chief operating officer of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, a collaboration of Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Clinic, and University Hospitals. This newly created role will provide substantive oversight of the cancer center to pursue its mission to advance cancer research, training, community outreach, and local and national impact.

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Brain Tumor Researcher to Lead Efforts to Move Research Discoveries to Patients

Brain Tumor Researcher to Lead Efforts to Move Research Discoveries to Patients
University of Florida Health Cancer Center

A leading expert in the search for ways to treat aggressive adult and pediatric brain tumors, Duane A. Mitchell, MD, PhD, will direct the University of Florida’s efforts to speed research discoveries to improve health, as well as UF’s expanded Clinical and Translational Science Award partnership with Florida State University.

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Enterprise Director of Breast Oncology Welcomed

Enterprise Director of Breast Oncology Welcomed
Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Health

Breast surgeon Kristin L. Brill, MD, has joined Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Health as enterprise director of breast oncology. Dr. Brill joins SKCC from Cooper University Health Care, in New Jersey, where she was head of the Division of Breast Surgery and director of the Janet Knowles Breast Cancer Center at MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper.

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Cancerous Tumors, Surrounding Cells Illuminated by New Imaging Agent

Cancerous Tumors, Surrounding Cells Illuminated by New Imaging Agent
Siteman Cancer Center
Washington University scientists at Siteman Cancer Center have developed a new imaging agent that could let physicians identify not only multiple types of tumors but the surrounding normal cells that the cancer takes over. Samuel Achilefu, PhD, directs the university’s Optical Radiology Lab at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology and is co-leader of the Oncologic Imaging Program at Siteman.
 

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Researcher Leads Clinical Trials on COVID-19 Investigational Drug Therapy

Researcher Leads Clinical Trials on COVID-19 Investigational Drug Therapy
VCU Massey Cancer Center

Massey Cancer Center researchers began two clinical trials this week on a potential, experimental treatment for COVID-19, the novel coronavirus rapidly spreading across the globe. The trials will be led by Arun Sanyal, MD, a member of the Cancer Cell Signaling and Cancer Prevention and Control research programs at the cancer center.

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Clinical Trial Examines Potential Treatment for COVID-19

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey is offering a clinical trial as a potential treatment for patients diagnosed with COVID-19. The trial is not limited to cancer patients. Researchers at Rutgers are exploring if azithromycin combined with hydroxychloroquine is better than hydroxychloroquine alone for treatment of patients with COVID-19. 

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Novel Approach Identified to Overcome Drug Resistance in Leukemia

The University of Kansas Cancer Center

Researchers from The University of Kansas Cancer Center, the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, and Children’s Mercy Kansas City have identified a novel approach to overcome drug resistance in leukemia, using a tried-and-true chemotherapy drug. The researchers found that low doses of doxorubicin inhibit two molecular pathways, Wnt/beta-catenin and PI3K/Akt, which work closely together to promote tumor growth and resistance to therapy.

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Study Identifies Precision Medicine Therapy for Rare Pediatric Glioma

Study Identifies Precision Medicine Therapy for Rare Pediatric Glioma
UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

David Solomon, MD, PhD, and colleagues shared a comprehensive genomic and epigenomic analysis of bithalamic glioma, identifying gene alterations and a unique epigenetic signature that distinguish this rare tumor type as a distinct tumor entity with potential sensitivity to a genomically-guided treatment strategy.

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Chronic Stress Can Impact Response to Radiation Therapy for Cancer

Chronic Stress Can Impact Response to Radiation Therapy for Cancer
Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center

While it has long been thought that locally-delivered radiation therapy typically does not help to shrink tumors outside the field of irradiation, new preclinical research from a team at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, led by Elizabeth Repasky, PhD, suggests a strategy for significantly increasing both the local and distant, or "abscopal," effects of radiation.

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Hereditary Prostate Cancer Linked to Family History of Breast, Ovarian Cancer

Hereditary Prostate Cancer Linked to Family History of Breast, Ovarian Cancer
Duke Cancer Institute, Duke University Medical Center

If his mother, sisters, and daughters have a history of breast and ovarian cancers, possibly stemming from mutations in genes like BRCA1/2, a man's risk for prostate cancer is also significantly increased, according to a a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The study, led by Kathleen Cooney, MD, suggests that this information could help guide screening, testing, and treatment.

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Study May Change Treatment Approach for Some Colorectal Cancer Patients

Study May Change Treatment Approach for Some Colorectal Cancer Patients
The University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center

A University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center researcher calls a new clinical study a "historic" step in the treatment of an aggressive form of metastatic colorectal cancer. The Phase III Beacon CRC Trial features a life-extending targeted drug trio and duo as an alternative to current therapies. Blase Polite, MD, is principal investigator on the study.

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Physician Leads Changes for Transplant, Cellular Therapy Guidelines

Physician Leads Changes for Transplant, Cellular Therapy Guidelines
WVU Cancer Institute
Abraham Kanate, MD, recently led the consensus guidelines from the American Society of Transplant and Cellular Therapy on indications for transplant and cellular therapy. The guidelines committee established a multi-stakeholder task force to provide guidance on indications for transplantation and cellular therapy to patients, transplant physicians, payers, and policymakers.
 

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New Therapy Could Benefit Underserved Patients With Lung, Ovarian Cancer

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

In a first-time disclosure of IPN60090, a small-molecule inhibitor of the metabolic enzyme glutaminase, researchers from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Therapeutics Discovery division and Ipsen Biopharmaceuticals reported the preclinical discovery and early-stage clinical development of this novel drug. IPN60090, now under investigation in a Phase I trial, may hold benefit for certain patients with lung and ovarian cancers.

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Superior Progression-Free Survival Associated With Continuous Targeted Therapy Combination for BRAF-mutated Melanoma

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

As part of the SWOG Cancer Research Network and ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group, investigators collaborated on a randomized Phase II clinical trial examining the targeted therapy drugs dabrafenib and tremetinib in both continuous and intermittent treatment of patients with BRAF-mutated melanoma and found continuous dosing yields superior progression-free survival.

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Cancer Clinicians Tackle COVID-19

The University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center

An over-active immune response may contribute to the severity of illness experienced by some COVID-19 patients. In this era of fighting cancer with immunotherapy, cancer clinicians are applying their understanding of the immune system to the battle against the coronavirus. These physician-scientists have been ushered to the frontline and are using their knowledge to launch COVID-19 clinical trials in record time.

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CRISPR-Based 'Discovery Engine' for New Cell Therapies to Advance Cancer Treatments

UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

A UC San Francisco team has advanced a technique to power a high-throughput platform to evaluate the specificity and potency of many different potential cell therapies simultaneously – comparable to the approach already widely used in industry to quickly screen large batches of small molecules to assess whether they would make effective drugs.

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Immunotherapy Before Surgery Could Advance Care of an Aggressive Form of Skin Cancer

Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University

In a study to evaluate the safety of a type of immunotherapy before surgery in patients with an aggressive form of skin cancer, researchers report that the treatment eliminated pathologic evidence of cancer in nearly half of the study participants undergoing surgery. The Merkel cell cancer trial is directed by investigators at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center in collaboration with the University of Washington Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and 10 other U.S. and European medical centers.

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Researchers Plan Study for Addressing Sexual Concerns in Breast Cancer Patients

Researchers Plan Study for Addressing Sexual Concerns in Breast Cancer Patients
Fox Chase Cancer Center, Temple Health

A recently published protocol paper by Fox Chase researchers describes a new trial evaluating an intervention program designed to improve sexual relationships for breast cancer survivors. Jennifer Barsky Reese, PhD, the study’s chief investigator, said the goal of the study is to see whether a four-session, couple-based intervention program done over the phone can help improve sexual function for breast cancer survivors.

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Scientists Survey CAR T-Cell Therapy Landscape

The University of Kansas Cancer Center

A historical review authored by Joseph McGuirk, DO, and Anurag Singh, MD, of KU Cancer Center chronicles decades of immune-based research leading to a new frontier in cancer treatment, chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR T) therapy. The cancer center is among the world’s first providers of FDA-approved CAR T-cell therapy and offers several related clinical trials.

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Cancer Outcomes Improved by Examining Patients' Genes

University of Virginia Cancer Center

By mining a vast trove of genetic data, researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine are enhancing doctors’ ability to treat cancer, predict patient outcomes, and determine which treatments will work best for individual patients. The researchers have identified inherited variations in genes that affect how well a patient will do after diagnosis and during treatment. Doctors will be able to use this information to examine a patient’s genetic makeup and provide truly personalized medicine.

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Chemotherapy Should Be Considered for Patients With Small ERBB2-Positive Breast Cancers

Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center

A new analysis led by physicians at Roswell Park shows that some patients with small node-negative breast tumors that test positive for both the hormone receptor (HR) and ERBB2, also known as HER2/neu, proteins could benefit from chemotherapy in addition to surgery, radiation, and endocrine therapy, also known as hormone therapy.

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Study Tracks Genomics of Lung Tumor Behavior

Study Tracks Genomics of Lung Tumor Behavior
Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center

A study by Vanderbilt researchers has identified genomic alterations in early stage adenocarcinomas of the lung that may indicate whether the lesions develop into aggressive tumors. The study is the largest analysis of in situ and early adenocarcinomas lesions using targeted sequencing. Pierre Massion, MD, led the research team.

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New York is Only State to Reduce Income-Based Disparities in Smoking, Study Finds

UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Lower-income Americans are more likely to smoke cigarettes than those who are more affluent. While the federal government and most states have set goals to reduce income-based disparities in tobacco use, only one state has lessened the gap, researchers at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer and UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health report.

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No Overall Survival Benefit, But Improved Quality of Life Found With Talazoparib in Advanced BRCA-Mutated Breast Cancer

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

New data from the Phase III EMBRACA trial led by researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center found the PARP inhibitor talazoparib did not demonstrate a statistically significant overall survival benefit for patients with metastatic HER2-negative breast cancer and mutations in the BRCA1/2 genes. Most patients included in the study went on to receive subsequent systemic therapies, which may have affected the survival outcome analysis. 

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Researchers Identify Molecular Pathway That Controls Immunosuppression in Tumors

Moffitt Cancer Center

In a new study, Moffitt researchers reveal how protein-signaling pathways associated with cellular stress processes turn myeloid cells into tumor-promoting players and suggest that targeting the PERK protein may be an effective therapeutic approach to reactivate the immune system and boost the effectiveness of immunotherapy.

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Experts Offer Advice on Managing Cancer Care During COVID-19 Pandemic

Fox Chase Cancer Center, Temple Health

A group of Fox Chase clinicians shared their expertise in an article that advised physicians on the best approach to take with patients who have been diagnosed or are currently under treatment for cancer during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The article was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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'Smart' Toilet Monitors for Signs of Disease

'Smart' Toilet Monitors for Signs of Disease
Stanford Cancer Institute

A disease-detecting "precision health" toilet can sense multiple signs of illness through automated urine and stool analysis, a new Stanford study reports. The toilet is fitted with technology that can detect a range of disease markers in stool and urine, including those of some cancers, such as colorectal or urologic cancers. 

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Study Examines Ways to Improve Cancer Literacy in Kentucky Students

UK Markey Cancer Center

A study led by UK Markey Cancer Center researchers suggests that implementing cancer education curricula in middle and high schools may improve cancer literacy and ultimately help reduce cancer rates. The study included 349 middle and high school students in Kentucky. Students were given a baseline test to determine their cancer literacy, followed by a cancer education presentation and another test. Scores for all individual items increased after the intervention, and the average test scores improved by 30 percent.

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Cancer Center Jobs

Assistant Vice President and Chief of Oncology Nursing Services
Duke Cancer Institute, Duke University Medical Center
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Senior Scientist, Cancer Lipids and Metabolism Research Program
Stony Brook Cancer Center
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Clinical Research Manager - Clinical Operations
Cedars-Sinai Cancer
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