Tag Archives: University of Arizona Cancer Center

cancer

$1.8M grant supports UA cancer biology program

The National Cancer Institute has awarded the University of Arizona Cancer Center a $1.8 million grant to continue training cancer researchers for the future.

The grant, called a T32 Training Grant, is a five-year award that will draw on the strengths of research faculty at The University of Arizona who direct their efforts toward the understanding of cancer causation, prevention and treatment to train future cancer researchers. The grant will fund six pre-doctoral and two postdoctoral trainees.

The training grant has been continuously competitively renewed by the UA Cancer Center since 1978, when Eugene Gerner, PhD, was the first principal investigator. In 1992, G. Tim Bowden, PhD, the center’s chief science officer and chair of the Cancer Biology Graduate Interdisciplinary Program, became the principal investigator. Jesse Martinez, PhD, became PI when Dr. Bowden retired in 2010. Dr. Martinez also serves as chair of the Cancer Biology Graduate Interdisciplinary Program, known as CBIO GIDP.

“The renewal of this training grant, which we have had at the UA Cancer Center for 36 years, means that we can continue to train the next generation of cancer researchers who will contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer,” said UA Cancer Center Director Andrew S. Kraft, MD. There are currently 20 students enrolled in the cancer biology graduate program.

The CBIO GIDP, which grew as part of the training grant, was approved by the Arizona Board of Regents in 1988. The GIDP training leads to a doctorate in cancer biology and offers graduate students the opportunity to interact with both basic scientists and clinical researchers. They can then establish themselves as independent investigators pursuing research into the origins and treatment of cancer. Since 1988, the program has trained and graduated more than 75 cancer researchers, including 7 MD/PhDs, who are working in industry, academia and government.

The UA’s Cancer Biology Program is the only program of its kind in the Southwest, excluding Southern California.

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Az Business honors healthcare leaders

Each year, Az Business magazine hosts the Healthcare Leadership Awards to honor the women, men and institutions that bring excellence and innovation to Arizona’s healthcare system. Here are the winners and finalists who were chosen by a panel of industry experts and were recognized at the 2014 Healthcare Leadership Awards on Thursday, April 10 at the Ritz Carlton in Phoenix. See photos from the event here or on our Facebook page.

BIOSCIENCE COMPANY
Winner: Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen)
TGen has made great strides in the field if genomics medicine. TGen researchers work to help physicians prescribe drugs that are designed more intelligently, work more effectively and have fewer toxic side effects. They have received numerous grants to support research into brain cancer and brain injuries, advanced cancers, Parkinson’s, rare childhood disorders, and more.

Finalists:
Barrow at PCH
Sonora Quest

COMMUNITY OUTREACH/EDUCATION
Winner: Barbara Kavanagh, Arizona Myeloma Network
Kavanagh’s mission is to change the lack of information and support resources for myeloma cancer by forming the Arizona Myeloma Network and the Living with Myeloma Conference, which has grown to 300 people. She also introduced the Pat and Bill Hite Cancer Caregivers Education and Support Program for caregivers to receive support and answers.

Finalists:
Catherine Ivy, Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation
Kathleen Goeppinger, Ph.D., Midwestern University

HEALTHCARE EXECUTIVE
Winner: Robert L. Meyer, Phoenix Children’s Hospital
Meyer is credited for the rapid and significant turnaround of Phoenix Children’s Hospital from the edge of financial failure to a successful $588 million expansion that made the hospital into one of the largest pediatric medical centers in the country. PCH is ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals.

Finalists:
Tim Bricker, Chandler Regional and Mercy Gilbert
Mary Lee DeCoster, Maricopa Integrated Health System
Tony Marinello, CEO of Mountain Vista, IASIS Healthcare
Ed Myers, St. Luke’s Medical Center, IASIS Healthcare

HEALTHCARE ADVOCATE
Winner: Dr. John Chen, Maricopa Integrated Health System
Serving the community’s most vulnerable residents, Chen has helped thousands of patients within the Maricopa Integrated Health System. He sees patients who are in urgent need of treatment because of their lack of dental insurance or location in third world countries. He promotes dental care and hygiene to help prevent serious diseases.

Finalists:
Dr. Randal Christensen, Crews ‘n’ Healthcare
Gerri Hether, Orchard Medical Consulting

INSURANCE PROVIDER
Winner: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
Marking its 75th anniversary in Arizona, BCBSAZ is committed to improving the quality of life for all Arizonans. The company focuses on providing the best value in health insurance as well as outside programs targeted to children and their families to help reduce childhood obesity.

Finalists:
Health Net of Arizona
UnitedHealthcare of Arizona

LEGAL ADVOCATE
Winner: Kristen Rosati, Polsinelli
As an attorney dedicated to the healthcare industry, especially to healthcare privacy, health information exchange and clinical research, Rosati has written 12 books, 30 articles and made 200 presentations on healthcare topics. She also helped establish two nonprofits in Arizona that support health information exchange and health information technology.

Finalists:
Richard Mallery, Snell and Wilmer
Martin L. Shultz, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck

MEDICAL CENTER OR HOSPITAL
Winner: Scottsdale Healthcare
As a nonprofit, Scottsdale Healthcare not only employs 6,500 staff members, but also is comprised of 1,400 volunteers who donate more than 155,000 hours of service each year. They are the largest employer in the City of Scottsdale and is known for its innovative medical technology, research and patient care.

Finalists:
Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center
Cancer Treatment Centers of America
St. Joseph’s Medical Center
St. Luke’s Medical Center

MEDICAL COMPANY OF THE YEAR
Winner: Ventana
Ventana is driving personalized healthcare through the development of “companion diagnostics” to identify patients most likely to respond favorably to specific therapies. Ventana has worked is currently engaged in more that 150 collaborative projects to develop and commercialize companion diagnostics globally.

Finalists:
Medtronic
W.L. Gore and Associates

MEDICAL RESEARCH COMPANY
Winner: Banner Alzheimer’s Institute
BAI has undergone a major prevention trial to evaluate a treatment in cognitively healthy older adults at the highest known genetic risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease at older ages. The study is part of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative API, an international collaboration led by BAI to accelerate the evaluation of promising but unproven prevention therapies.

Finalists:
Banner MD Anderson
University of Arizona Cancer Center

PHYSICIAN OF THE YEAR
Winner: Jimmy Chow, IASIS Healthcare
Chow improved the field of orthopedics by helping to design and teach a hybrid technique of a minimally invasive total hip replacement where the surgeon builds a new hip from inside the body. This surgery results in no post-operative limitations and many patients are discharged within 24 hours. Chow is one of 10 surgeons in the world to perform his surgery.

Finalists:
Karen Corallo Chaney, Magellan Health Services
David Notrica, Phoenix Children’s Hospital

RESEARCHER OF THE YEAR
Winner: Venkatesh G. Ramaiah, Arizona Heart Hospital
Ramaiah, the medical director and director of vascular and endovascular research, successfully created the “un balloon,” which is used to remodel thoracic endografts without the wind sock effect. This products was able to be marketed and sold.

Finalists:
David Jacofsky, CORE Institute
Glen Weiss, CTCA

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT
Linda Hunt, Dignity Health
Hunt, who has served as the leader of Dignity Health in Arizona since 2012, has taken a leadership role to advance healthcare and the biosciences for the people of Arizona. She has worked diligently with legislators, business leaders, educators, scientists and community organizations in order to identify, formulate, and support policies that will give Arizonans better healthcare and raise the bar of knowledge.


Click here to see all the photos.

bioscience

Renowned Bioinformatician Joins UA

Yves A. Lussier, MD, FAMCI, a professional engineer and physician-scientist who conducts research in translational bioinformatics and personal genomics, has joined the Arizona Health Sciences Center at the University of Arizona.

Dr. Lussier will serve as UA professor of medicine; associate vice president for health sciences and chief knowledge officer for AHSC; associate director for cancer informatics and precision health for the University of Arizona Cancer Center; and associate director, BIO5 informatics, for the UA BIO5 Institute. He assumed his new duties Dec. 2.

Dr. Lussier is an international expert in translational bioinformatics and a pioneer in research informatics techniques including systems biology, data representation through ontologies and high-throughput methods in personalized medicine. At the UA, he will lead efforts to fully develop novel programs in biomedical informatics, computational genomics and precision health. Dr. Lussier will provide critical leadership in efforts to advance precision health approaches to health outcomes and healthcare delivery and in the development of big data analytical tools and resource services in support of the University’s clinical research and service missions.

“I’m extremely pleased to have Yves join the University of Arizona,” said Joe G.N. “Skip” Garcia, MD, UA senior vice president for health sciences. “Yves and his team of computational specialists bring much needed expertise and program capacity in informatics, sequence analysis, genomic annotation and computational biology that will accelerate translational research activity across campus and throughout the state.”

Anne E. Cress, PhD, interim director of the UA Cancer Center, noted that “the integration of genomics with clinical information is the key to innovative approaches to provide ‘tomorrow’s medicine today’ for cancer patients. The addition of Dr. Lussier to the Cancer Center will greatly strengthen our clinical research efforts in cancer informatics and the delivery of personalized treatment plans.”

Fernando D. Martinez, MD, director of the UA BIO5 Institute, shared his enthusiasm for Dr. Lussier’s recruitment. “Informatics bridges the five core disciplines – agriculture, engineering, medicine, pharmacy and science – of BIO5. Dr. Lussier and his team will advance the Institute’s interdisciplinary, collaborative research efforts to successfully create solutions to the grand biological challenges.”

Dr. Lussier comes to UA from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), where he was professor of medicine, bioengineering and biopharmaceutical sciences, and assistant vice president for health affairs and chief research information officer for the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System. Prior to his tenure at UIC, Dr. Lussier was associate director of informatics for the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center as well as co-director of biomedical informatics for the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA)-funded Institute for Translational Medicine (2006-2011). From 2001-2006, Dr. Lussier was an assistant professor in the Departments of Biomedical Informatics and Medicine at Columbia University in New York.

Dr. Lussier’s research interests focus on the use of ontologies, knowledge technologies and genomic network model to accurately individualize the treatment of disease and to repurpose therapies. He has National Institutes of Health funding for a clinical trial that repositioned a combination therapy, he also bioinformatically predicted and obtained biological confirmation of several novel tumor suppressor microRNAs, including the first one underpinning the oligo- vs poly- metastasis development of cancer.

His research has been featured in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He has authored 130 publications and delivered more than 100 invited presentations in precision medicine, systems medicine and translational bioinformatics, including 14 opening conference keynotes.

A Fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics, Dr. Lussier is a member of numerous governance, technology transfer, scientific and editorial boards, including the American Medical Informatics Association, International Society for Computational Biology, Society for Clinical and Translational Science, American Society for Cancer Research, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, American Association for the Advancement of Science and American Society for Human Genetics.

health.education

UA Cancer Center Director Earns Title

David S. Alberts, MD, director of the University of Arizona Cancer Center from 2005-2013, has been granted the director emeritus title by the Arizona Health Sciences Center.

The title is retroactive to July 1 and will accompany his current title of Regents Professor of Medicine, Pharmacology, Nutritional Science and Public Health. Anne Cress, PhD, was named interim director of the UA Cancer Center on July 19.

“Your career at the University of Arizona has been more than distinguished, and your years of service to advancing our institution is much appreciated,” said Joe G. N. “Skip” Garcia, MD, UA senior vice president for health sciences, in a letter addressed to Dr. Alberts on Oct. 4. “We value the renown and prestige you have built for the Cancer Center, and thank you for your dedication and leadership. The passion by which you have served is evident to all.”

Under Dr. Alberts’ leadership, the extensive research portfolio of the UA Cancer Center includes more than $60 million in annual research funding. Clinically, Dr. Alberts pioneered new treatments for advanced ovarian cancers, including in vitro tumor cell chemosensitivity testing for personalized medicine strategies, intraperitoneal chemotherapy and maintenance chemotherapy.

Currently, Dr. Alberts helps to coordinate Phase I and II and pharmacokinetic drug studies at the UA Cancer Center for molecularly targeted chemopreventive agents. His laboratory research is concentrated on the evaluation of new surrogate endpoint biomarkers for cancer prevention trials. His National Cancer Institute-funded drug and diagnostics research has resulted in more than two dozen patents and the co-founding of five Arizona pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

During his career, Dr. Alberts has served as an advisor to numerous cancer research foundations and committees, such as chair of the Oncologic Drug Advisory Committee to the Food and Drug Administration (1984-1986). And he was a member of the NCI’s Board of Counselors (to the Division of Cancer Prevention, 1990-1994), the Board of Scientific Advisors (1999-2006), and the coordinating subcommittee to the NCI’s Clinical Translational Advisory Committee (2006-2009).

Dr. Alberts has authored or co-authored more than 550 peer-reviewed publications, more than 100 book chapters and 60 invited articles, and has served as editor and co-editor of eight books. He has served on the editorial boards of several peer-reviewed scientific journals, including associate editor for Cancer Research from 1989-2002. Between 2002-2008, he acted as the co-editor-in-chief of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, the leading cancer public health research journal worldwide.

Dr. Alberts received his MD in 1966 from University of Virginia School of Medicine. He conducted his internship at the University of Wisconsin, before becoming a clinical associate in medical oncology at the National Cancer Institute’s Baltimore Cancer Research Center. Dr. Alberts conducted his internal medicine residency at the University of Minnesota and then served on the faculty of the University of California, San Francisco, for five years and obtained board certification in medicine and medical oncology in 1973. He joined the UA College of Medicine in 1975 as an assistant professor, where he has served for 38 years.

 

medical.research

UA Seeking People for Breast Cancer-Vegetable Study

University of Arizona Cancer Center researchers are seeking participants in Maricopa County for a study designed to determine if a compound found in broccoli can enhance the health-promoting effects of the breast cancer drug Tamoxifen in women at risk of developing breast cancer or those previously treated for early-stage breast cancer.

Since receiving a $3 million grant from the National Cancer Institute in 2011, UACC researcher Cynthia Thomson, PhD, RD, and her team have recruited 106 women who are taking Tamoxifen for the DIME study. Enrollment will continue both in Tucson and Phoenix, through the early part of 2014 with a goal of 170 participants.

Tamoxifen is an accepted treatment for breast cancer. Dr. Thomson, a professor of Health Promotion Sciences in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona, notes that data from diet studies of people who have a higher intake of cruciferous vegetables – cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi and broccoli – suggest that intake may reduce the risk of certain cancers, including breast, colorectal, bladder and possibly prostate.

“We have previously shown that women taking Tamoxifen who eat more vegetables may decrease cancer recurrence risk. This study will test the potential health-promoting effects using one isolated bioactive compound found in cruciferous vegetables, diindolylmethane (DIM), and compare it to a placebo intervention in favorably changing hormone levels and breast characteristics like breast density,” Dr. Thomson says.

Alison Stopeck, MD, a co-investigator in the study and the director of the Clinical Breast Cancer Program at the UA Cancer Center, sees this research as a unique opportunity to determine the potential of non-invasive imaging to be a reliable biomarker for breast cancer risk. Women in the study will complete periodic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedures for measuring breast characteristics.

Study participants will be asked to take the supplement or placebo for 18 months and complete periodic clinical evaluation visits. The supplement is a patented, absorption enhancing formulation of diindolylmethane known as BioResponse DIM® (also known under the tradenames Indolplex® or BR-Dim®) supplied by BioResponse, LLC, of  Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the DIME study in Maricopa County, call Dianne Parish, RN, at 602-264-4461 for Central Phoenix or Patti Blair, RN, at 480-461-3772 for Mesa. More information is also available at azcc.arizona.edu/node/3628.

The DIME Study is supported by grant number CA149417 from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

rsz_ua_cancer_center

Regents Give Final Approval For UA Cancer Center in Downtown Phoenix

 

The Arizona Board of Regents has given final project approval for construction of The University of Arizona Cancer Center-Phoenix outpatient clinic at the Phoenix Biomedical Campus.

Hensel Phelps Construction is the general contractor and ZGF Architects is the architectural firm.

The regents also approved a ground lease for 1.56 acres from the City of Phoenix at the Biomedical Campus, and a 20-year facility lease with St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center/ Dignity Health, which upon finalization of the lease will operate inpatient clinical cancer services at its main hospital campus and outpatient services at the new facility and at its hospital campus. Construction on the new facility will begin later this month.

The 6-story, $100M, 230,000 SF cancer clinic will be located at the NWC of Fillmore and Seventh streets and will offer comprehensive cancer services, including infusion, radiation oncology, diagnostic imaging, endoscopic/interventional radiology, a breast center, specialized cancer clinics, patient wellness and support services, a prevention/executive health clinic, clinical lab space and other related support spaces. The new clinic should be open to patients by early 2015.

Plans call for four floors to be built out for immediate use; the fifth floor will be constructed as “shell space” for future development, and the sixth floor will consist of enclosed space for mechanical equipment.

The UA Cancer Center is one of just 41 comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health. It is the only NCI comprehensive cancer center headquartered in Arizona.

“We are very pleased with this progress,” said UA President Ann Weaver Hart. “Effective partnerships are one example of ways in which we can make our boundaries more permeable and our innovations more effective. The University of Arizona is proud to work with St. Joseph’s Hospital and the City of Phoenix to further cancer research, prevention and treatment.”

“We also give a special thank you to Mayor Greg Stanton and members of the Phoenix City Council. The center will create several hundred permanent jobs and have an economic impact of $250 million per year,” Hart added.

“As our affiliation with the UA is established and evolves, our cancer services will continue to expand and develop an extraordinary level of specialization,” said Linda Hunt, president and CEO of Dignity Health Arizona. “Through this effort, we are collaborating with talented UA and community physicians, as well as other providers throughout the valley. Patients will now have access to care that is truly exceptional.”

Of the total $100M project budget, the Cancer Center will raise $20M from philanthropic giving. The City of Phoenix is supporting the UACC-Phoenix project with $14M in funding. The UA will issue $66 million in revenue bonds. The University will use UACC-Phoenix lease revenues and operating revenues to fund the project’s debt service.

“The City of Phoenix is thrilled to be the newest home of The University of Arizona Cancer Center. We look forward to the wonderful advances in cancer care and treatment that will arise from this collaboration between the UA and St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center,” Stanton said. “Not only will patients in the Greater Phoenix area benefit from the advanced cancer care, but also the city’s and state’s economy will benefit from the economic impact and the jobs that will be created. The Arizona Cancer Center is a tremendous next step on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, and we look forward to continued growth.”

“The establishment of this Cancer Center is a momentous event for the landscape of health care in Arizona and represents a new beacon of hope for cancer patients in our state,” said Anne Mariucci, chair of the Arizona Board of Regents Business and Finance Committee. “Not only will this Cancer Center provide access to the leading-edge cancer treatments for patients, but this prestigious facility will attract top researchers to our state, generate new jobs and result in important research expenditures as well, all important markers for our economy.”

“The University of Arizona Cancer Center-Phoenix will focus on delivering the highest standard of cancer care with an evidence-based, research-driven, disease-oriented multidisciplinary model, along with the most modern technologies and a compassionate, patient-centered approach,” said UACC Director Dr. David S. Alberts.

The new UA Cancer Center-Phoenix will be home to approximately 100 providers and hundreds of healthcare professionals and administrative staff members. The innovative Cancer Center will add a clinical health-care component to the Phoenix Biomedical Campus and is projected to treat approximately 60,000 patients a year within 10 years of opening.

In keeping with the UA’s commitment to responsible and sustainable design, the Cancer Center building will be designed to conform to the standard United States Green Building Council LEED Silver Certification.