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Karmanos Cancer Institute’s Molecular Therapeutics Program hosts Annual Research Retreat

Photo of Keynote Speaker - William Pao, M.D., Ph.D., Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center

More than 125 scientists and medical students from the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, Wayne State University School of Medicine (WSU SOM) and Henry Ford Health System listened to presentations about recent and upcoming advances in molecular therapeutics during the 2013 Annual Research Retreat, hosted June 19 by the Institute. The day-long event was held at the Margherio Family Conference Center in Scott Hall at WSU SOM.

Gerold Bepler, M.D., Ph.D., president and CEO of Karmanos, opened the day by welcoming attendees and noting this was the first independent retreat of the recently reorganized Molecular Therapeutics Program at Karmanos.

Larry Matherly, Ph.D., leader of the Molecular Therapeutics Program, thanked the retreat steering committee and Julie Boerner, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Oncology at Karmanos and WSU SOM, in particular for her contributions in organizing the event. Special thanks also went to KCI Research Administration, particularly Research Administrative Coordinator Michelle Case and Evano Piasentin, project administrator of Investigator Grants, for their assistance.

Keynote speaker William Pao, M.D., Ph.D. capped off the morning presentations with a thoughtful discussion on “Defining Clinically Relevant Molecular Subsets of Cancer.” Dr. Pao, a lung cancer expert, is a physician scientist and division chief of the Hematology/Oncology Department of Medicine at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, Tenn.

Additionally, presentations were given by several members from Karmanos’ Molecular Therapeutics Program, who included:
  • Elisabeth Heath, M.D, professor of Oncology at Karmanos and WSU SOM, “Clinical and Translational Prostate Cancer Research: Advancing Team Science.”
  • Aliccia Bollig-Fischer, Ph.D., assistant professor of Oncology at Karmanos and WSU SOM, “Translational Genomics.”
  • Ana C. deCarvalho, Ph.D., instructor scientist II of Neurosurgery at Henry Ford Health System, “Glioblastoma Patient-Derived Mouse Xenografts are Clinically Relevant Models for the Study of Molecular Heterogeneity and Differential Response to Targeted Therapy.”
  • Nicholas Szerlip, M.D., assistant professor of Neurosurgery at WSU SOM , “Targeting Neuregulin and ErbB2 in Glioma therapy;”
  • Patricia LoRusso, D.O., professor of Oncology at Karmanos and WSU SOM, “Melanoma Dream Team.”
  • Jeffrey Zonder, M.D., associate professor of Oncology at WSU SOM, “New Therapeutic Targets in Multiple Myeloma.”
  • Manohar Ratnam, Ph.D., professor of Oncology at Karmanos and WSU SOM, “A New Approach to Targeting the Androgen Signaling Axis in Prostate Cancer.”
  • Lori Pile, Ph.D., assistant professor of Biological Sciences at WSU, “Histone Modifying Enzymes in Cell Proliferation and Development.”
  • G. Andrés Cisneros, Ph.D., assistant professor of Chemistry at WSU, “Hypothesis Driven-SNP-Search: A New Method to Find Disease Related SNPs.”
  • Andrew Fribley, Ph.D., assistant professor of Pediatrics at WSU SOM, “Novel Small Molecules Activate Unfolded Protein Response Signaling and Cell Death in Head and Neck Cancer.”
Finally, a competitive poster session highlighting research from undergraduate students, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows was held midday.  Twenty-five participants discussed their research projects with attendees and judges.  Poster prizes were awarded in each of the following categories: undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral fellow.  Winners are as follows:

Undergraduate: First  prize – Adam Edmunds – laboratory of Dr. Mittal
Graduate: First prize – Daniela Buac – laboratory of Dr. Dou and Second  prize – Julie Madden Laboratory of Dr. Boerner
Post-Doctoral Fellow: First prize – Eric Hales, Ph.D. – laboratory of Dr. Matherly

Karmanos’ Research Retreats are held annually and highlight basic, clinical and population research across the Institute’s four cancer center research programs, which include Tumor and Microenvironment, Molecular Imaging and Diagnostics, Molecular Therapeutics, and Population Studies and Disparities Research.
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