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Member Feature: University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center

Nov. 1, 2017:

Investigator Spotlight

 Dr. Zachary Morris is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Oncology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and is a member of the UW Carbone Cancer Center.

This story is adapted from an earlier version, originally published by UW Health

Teaching the Immune System to Fight Cancer

Vaccines against an infection work by training the immune system at the site of injection and then spreading those educated immune cells throughout the body.

UW Carbone Cancer Center researcher and Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium (Big Ten CRC) Head and Neck Clinical Trial Working Group member Zachary Morris, MD, PhD, thinks that same immunotherapy concept can be applied to fighting cancer, especially metastatic cancers where cells from the initial tumor have spread to other parts of the body. Morris is also working with Big Ten CRC to launch a Sarcoma Clinical Trial Working Group.

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Member feature: Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center

Oct. 1, 2017:

Investigator Spotlight

Hamid Band, MD, PhD, Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center

Educational background: M.D. Medical College, Srinagar,, Kashmir University, India; Ph.D. Immunology, All-India Insitute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

Research interests: Our research focuses on two major topics, both geared to understand, and potentially target, the intracellular traffic of cell surface receptors coupled to activation of tyrosine kinase signaling: the CBL-family of ubiquitin ligases, which provides an essential mechanism of negative regulation of receptor and non-receptor tyrosine kinases through ubiquitin-dependent proteasomal and lysosomal degradation; and members of the EHD family of endocytic regulatory proteins, which control subcellular traffic of cell surface receptors involved in a variety of fundamental cellular processes. We use mouse genetic models, cell biology, biochemistry and molecular biology approaches to investigate the roles of these protein families in the context of epithelial (mammary and intestinal) and hematopoietic stem cell homeostasis, immune responses in cancer, and tumor progression and metastasis in breast cancer and myeloid leukemia. A newer interest in the laboratory is on cancer immunology, with a focus on enhancing the efficacy of CAR T-cell immunotherapy of solid tumors.

Little-known facts about Dr. Band: 

  • As a child, I walked a mile and a quarter each way to attend middle school, rain or shine. Thank God, they gave us six weeks off in winter.
  • In 1980/1981, I applied to Ph.D. programs at five U.S. universities and was rejected by all. About eight years later (three years after receiving my official Ph.D. degree from India), I accepted my first Ph.D. student and taught a course in immunology at one of those universities — Harvard.
  • Except for Wheatfield’s Bakery in Omaha, I rarely buy foods without scanning the nutritional information on the package.

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Member Feature: Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University

Aug. 2, 2017:

Investigator Spotlight

Barbara Pro, MD, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University

Educational background: MD, University La Sapienza in Rome Italy; Residency: Mount Sinai Hospital, New York

Research interests: Dr Pro’s research focus has been on the development of new therapies for the management of patients with Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. She has served as the PI on numerous clinical trials, including three trials that led to the approval of novel agents for the treatment of T-cell lymphomas. Dr. Pro is an internationally renowned clinician and researcher and her work has been published extensively.

Little-known facts about Dr. Pro: 

  • When my father died from colon cancer at the age of 42 I decided to become an oncologist and help cure cancer.
  • I love teaching and sharing my experience with our Fellows.
  • I wish I’d studied English sooner! I went to medical school in Italy and had no idea I would eventually practice in the U.S.

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Member Feature: University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center

June 2, 2017:

Investigator Spotlight

Dr. Ryan Alan Wilcox

Ryan Alan Wilcox, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of hematology, University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center 

Member of the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium Lymphoid Malignancies Clinical Trial Working Group 

Interests: T-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas 

  • Medical School or Training
    • Mayo Medical School, 2004
  • Residency 
    • Mayo Clinic, Internal Medicine, MN, 2007
  • Fellowship
    • Hematology/Oncology, Mayo Clinic, 2011
  • Board Certification
    • Internal Medicine
    • Medical Oncology
    • Hematology 

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Member Feature: Michigan State University Breslin Cancer Center

May 15, 2017:

Jatin Rana, MD

Investigator Spotlight

Jatin Rana, MD

Educational Background: BS from University of Michigan, MS from Wayne State University, and MD from Wayne State University

Research Interests: My primary interests both clinically and investigational is in gastrointestinal and breast malignancies. As a young investigator I’m excited to offer treatment opportunities through clinical trials for my patients. I am also involved in developing quality improvement projects to provide the best oncology care for our patients.

Fun Facts: I enjoy cooking/grilling.

I enjoy hands-on projects including fixing cars and working in the yard.

I was born in England.

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Member Feature: University of Illinois Cancer Center

April 1, 2017:

Investigator Spotlight

Lawrence Feldman, MD

Educational Background: MD from University of Michigan

Research Interests: Dr. Feldman’s research interests lie in finding the optimal treatments to improve the response, survival rates, and quality of life in the treatment of lung and head and neck cancers. He is the UIC Principal Investigator on several studies that test the role of targeted agents in the treatment of lung and head and neck cancer. He is also interested in the application of large databases to answer critical clinical questions in the management of these malignancies.

Fun Facts: He is a “gym rat” and loves the game of basketball.

His father was a family practice physician and used to make house calls.

He and his wife have 2 grown sons and 2 dogs (cocker spaniels).

 

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Member Feature: Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

March 1, 2017:

Investigator Spotlight

Mark Stein, MD

Educational Background: BS, Yale; MD, New York Medical College; Internal Medicine, Albert Einstein; Fellowship in Oncology Hematology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. 1/13/17 Photo by John O’Boyle

Research Interests: I am interested in developing novel therapies for the treatment of genitourinary malignancies. The potential benefit of immunotherapy for the treatment of prostate cancer is still poorly understood. Through collaboration’s with my colleagues at Rutgers, pharmaceutical companies (some of which are even located in New Jersey) and other members of the Big Ten, it is my hope that we will be able to utilize immunotherapy earlier in the course of treatment of prostate cancer and potentially the effects from treatments that decrease testosterone levels and cause significant side effects. Kidney and bladder cancer have likewise seen tremendous progress through use of immune checkpoint inhibitors. However, the majority of patients still did not benefit from these therapies. The GU group in the Big Ten has developed very innovative trials to potentially extend the benefits of immunotherapy to additional patients.

Fun Facts: I have been trying to perfect my freestyle swim stroke for the last three years. I think I finally figured it out last week.

A vacation doesn’t count unless it involves getting into a boat – preferably a kayak moving quickly.

My dream is to cure cancer and use my scientific knowledge to make very good wine.


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Member Feature: Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center

Jan. 1, 2017:

Investigator Spotlight

Nasser Hanna, MDscreen-shot-2016-12-27-at-11-32-38-am

Educational Background: BA in biology from St. Louis University; MD from University of Missouri-Columbia

Research Interests: My research interests are in the areas of lung cancer and testicular cancer. My lung cancer research has focused on the treatment of stage III and IV non-small cell lung cancer and extensive stage small cell lung cancer. I have led multiple phase II and III clinical trials in each of these disease states. I am also interested in studying novel therapies in the refractory setting of men with testicular cancer.

Fun Facts: I love watching open wheel racing.

I played competitive tennis in high school.

I have four children.


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Member Feature: Purdue University Center for Cancer Research

Dec. 19, 2016:

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-2-18-23-pm

Andrea L. Kasinski, PhD

Investigator Spotlight

Andrea L. Kasinski, PhD

Educational Background: PhD, Emory University (2009), Postdoctoral Fellow, Yale University

Research Interests: My laboratory works on non-coding RNA biology and therapeutics. Specifically, we focus on identifying biologically important RNAs whose misexpression drives the tumorigenic process. We then utilize this information to design, develop, and implement RNA-based therapeutics. Specifically, evidence-based approaches are being developed to identify microRNAs that drive the process of tumorigenesis, or to identify microRNAs that are required for tumor cell maintenance or therapeutic resistance. Using this data, we then develop various strategies to alter the concentration of theses microRNAs in vivo using either small molecule inhibitors, or novel targeting approaches that deliver microRNAs in the absence of toxic delivery vehicles. Our overarching goal is to generate substantial knowledge that will lead to the clinical utility of non-coding RNAs.

Fun Facts: I have a loving and supportive husband, Scott Haymond, and two incredible step-children, Abby and Parker.

Growing up in a traditional blue-collar family, I had little knowledge on what a PhD was. A great deal of my scientific success is due to the late Dr. Dean Danner at Emory University, a fantastic mentor that recognized my strengths and recommended that I pursue my doctorate.

Originally I wanted to be a cardiac transplant surgeon; however, after I got involved in research I recognized that my passion was in research and discovery.


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Member Feature: University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center

Nov. 2, 2016:

Investigator Spotlight

Natalie Callander, MD, is a hematologist at the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center who focuses on the treatment of patients with multiple myeloma, the second most common formcallander_natalie_md of blood cancer. She serves as co-chair of the BTCRC’s Multiple Myeloma Clinical Trial group, along with Dr. Craig Cole of the University of Michigan. “Our mission at the BTCRC is to foster collaboration between researchers and industry partners in order to develop novel therapies, particularly for patients with relapsed myeloma,” Callander said. “We also hope to provide young investigators a venue to explore new treatment paradigms.”

Callander is the Medical Director of the Myeloma Clinical Program at UW, where she has worked to increase the number of high quality myeloma clinical trials. Under her leadership, UW has become the one of the top accuers for myeloma clinical trials in ECOG (the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group). She also assembled a myeloma translational research group on campus, including Shigeki Miyamoto, PhD, Peiman Hematti, MD, Fotis Asimakopoulos, MB, PhD, and Alan Rapraeger, PhD, which has been working together now for nearly a decade. One of her projects involves collecting bone marrow samples from myeloma, patients, so that their tumor cells can be studies in a variety of ways. One investigation involves the study of how drug resistance develops and to identify new biological markers that could serve as therapeutic targets. Their group is also researching a personalized approach to treatment, where they test drug therapies on both cancerous and healthy cells culled from these donated bone marrow samples to accurately recapitulate the marrow microenvironment. “We hope that this approach will lead to a real time method of helping to decide the best treatments for relapsed patients, and ultimately spare them from ineffective and potentially toxic drugs,” Callander said. Read More

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