Our latest issue of Act Against Cancer
has arrived, and we couldn't be more proud of how this edition turned out.
We conducted around a dozen interviews and poured through hundreds of historical documents and photos to tell the story of this tremendous organization. In the fight against cancer, it's important to know where you came from so you can effectively decide where you want to go.
This issue covers the early days of the National Cancer Act, the circumstances that led to the formation of the University of Arizona Cancer Center, and the unique leadership abilities of Sydney E. Salmon, MD, as the UACC became one of the research world's most influential and respected institutions.
We delve into the UACC's atmosphere of innovation and imagination, and how that led to some major breakthroughs in translational research, as well as how that spirit of teamwork and will carry us -- and the field of cancer research as a whole -- through the present and into the future to help everyone achieve our common goal: to prevent and cure cancer.
Download the PDF here
, but be sure to also visit our website at arizonacancercenter.org
, where we'll be supplementing these stories with audio clips from the researchers who have been there from the beginning.
It may only be his second week on the job, but Joe G. N. "Skip" Garcia, MD
, the new senior vice president for health sciences at the University of Arizona, took part in a Town Hall event at Kiewit Auditorium on Monday.
Dr. Garcia is wasting no time in communicating his message and laying out his goals for the Arizona Health Sciences Center - specifically, his vision for the UA Cancer Center.
"As the senior vice president of health sciences, I believe we should be focusing our thinking on expanding our research prowess as a university. Everyone around here knows that the cancer center resides at the epicenter of our research goals. The translational and applied research that takes place here has an impact across colleges. It is a key area for us to deploy key resources," Dr. Garcia said.
Dr. Garcia - along with UA Cancer Center interim director Anne Cress, PhD
, UA Health Network CEO Michael Waldrum, MD, and College of Medicine - Tucson Dean Steve Goldschmid - addressed the Kiewit Auditorium audience and covered a wide range of topics regarding the UA Cancer Center and its direction going forward.
As the UA senior vice president for health sciences, and a key member of UA President Ann Weaver Hart's executive team, Dr. Garcia provides academic leadership for the Arizona Health Sciences Center (AHSC) colleges: the UA College of Medicine – Tucson; the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix; the UA College of Pharmacy; the UA College of Nursing; and the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. He also has direct oversight of the UA Cancer Center.
"I'm a physician scientist myself. I have a very deep respect for the breadth and type of science that is involved in clinical cancer research. I’m really interested in expanding our research portfolio, particularly our translational and applied research. We need to recruit program leaders and game-changers that can advance our science," Dr. Garcia added.
Watch the archived video from the Town Hall event
at the AHSC Biomedical Communications website. Dr. Garcia's next speaking event will take place at the BIO5 Institute (Thomas W. Keating Building, Room 103) on Thursday, Sept. 19 from 3:30-5 p.m.
University of Arizona Cancer Center Interim Director Anne Cress, PhD, has hit the ground running.
Dr. Cress sees this transition period as an opportunity to crystalize the UACC's mission and vision going forward. One of the first stops on her public information tour was a stop at the Buckmaster Show on Aug. 6
Dr. Cress' interview with Bill Buckmaster begins two minutes into the segment and lasts for roughly 10 minutes. It's a thoughtful, illuminating discussion on not only the UACC, but on the future of the field of cancer treatment. Listen to the interview here
Anne E. Cress, PhD
The University of Arizona Cancer Center is starting a new chapter. This week, Anne E. Cress, PhD, was named as the UACC's interim director.
With David S. Alberts, MD
, finishing an eight-year run as director at the end of June to focus on his many research projects, Dr. Cress will lead the cancer center into this exciting new era.
Dr. Cress is currently a professor of cellular and molecular medicine and radiation oncology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, as well as the deputy dean for research affairs.
"Anne Cress is one of the top cancer biology scientists in the world," said incoming UA Senior Vice President for Health Sciences Joe G.N. "Skip" Garcia, MD. "Her breadth of knowledge about translational approaches to cancer will be crucial as she leads the UA’s comprehensive cancer center through this time of transition."
UA College of Medicine - Tucson Dean Steve Goldschmid, MD, added: "Anne Cress' service to the University of Arizona, especially within the College of Medicine, is unparalled. Between her extensive research credentials and her administrative leadership, she is unquestionably the right person to take the reins of our cancer center at this critical time."
Read the full release at the official UA Cancer Center website
Those of us at the University of Arizona Cancer Center would like to thank the fine folks at Becker's Hospital Review
for including us
in their list of great oncology programs.
On Feb. 22, Becker's released its list
of "100 Hospitals and Health Systems With Great Oncology Programs." According to Becker's, "[t]hese hospitals are on the cutting edge of cancer treatment, prevention and research, and the Becker's Hospital Review editorial team selected them based on clinical accolades, quality care and contributions to the field of oncology."Here is what Becker's had to say specifically about the UA Cancer Center:
"The University of Arizona Cancer Center was established in 1976 and has a staff of more than 300 physicians and scientists. It has 73 research labs, and its scientists are currently involved in more than 200 clinical trials. The center is one of six in the nation with a National Cancer Institute Specialized Program of Research Excellence grant for gastrointestinal cancers. University of Arizona Medical Center was also named one of America's Top Quality Hospitals in 2013 by CareChex."
How does Becker's compile its list? "These hospitals have been recognized for excellence in this specialty by reputable healthcare rating resources, including U.S. News & World Report, Thomson Reuters, the National Cancer Institute, the American College of Surgeons, the American Nurses Credentialing Center and CareChex. Each organization has demonstrated a focus on patient-centered cancer care and emphasis on continual innovation in treatments and services. Many of these organizations also have a place in the history of cancer prevention and research, as they've driven groundbreaking discoveries and made clinical milestones."Click here
to read the full list.
“If the PIKEs had not picked up the [CATWalk], the event would have been dropped.”
That's what legendary former Arizona basketball coach Lute Olson had to say
about the Phi Kappa Alpha fraternity and their efforts to keep the CATWalk alive.
The original CATWalk took place in 2001, shortly after Lute's wife, Bobbi, passed away from ovarian cancer. She was one of the campus's most beloved individuals, and the CATWalk turned into a way for the entire community to honor her.
The event was nearly called off last year, but the PIKEs stepped up and put on the 13th annual CATWalk on Dec. 1, raising $14,500 for the UA Cancer Center to go toward women's cancer research. The PIKEs present Olson with the check on Friday, Jan. 25.
Patrick Weber, a systems engineering junior and the new director of PIKE, is already planning the nextCATWalk.
“It is the most meaningful and enriching event I have ever participated in because the people I have met just through coordinating this, from Dr. [David] Alberts, the director of the Arizona Cancer Center, to Lute and Kelly Olson, to business owners, and to actual cancer survivor patients, you just see the passion these people have to fight this horrible disease,” Pfeiffer said.
The University of Arizona Cancer Center
has completed the initial steps of its search for a new director, identifying five candidates for campus visits and in-depth interviews.
Search committee chair and Cancer Center member Serrine Lau, PhD, a UA professor of pharmacology and toxicology and pharmaceutical sciences and director of the UA Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center, stressed that the search is still “very open” and that the committee is still accepting applications, but that the five individuals on the “short list” are outstanding, highly qualified candidates.
The 13-member committee, which includes six UACC members, sifted through more than 100 nominations on Aug. 1, with help from the executive search firm Witt/Kieffer. Thirty-five candidates completed applications. Out of that pool, the search committee selected 12 candidates for “airport interviews,” each of which lasted for roughly 75 minutes.
On July 30 and 31, the search committee conducted six airport interviews, followed by three more on Aug. 6. The committee finished the remaining three interviews on Aug. 24 and identified five candidates for first round of campus interviews. These visits will include meetings with the search committee, current director David Alberts, MD, and various members of University of Arizona and UA College of Medicine leadership.
Dr. Lau said she hopes to conclude these interviews by the middle of October.
Natalia Ignatenko, PhD
University of Arizona Cancer Center researchers and physicians have seen their names attached to some awfully exciting news these past few days. Here is a quick round-up of some of the latest noteworthy accomplishments:• Natalia Ignatenko, PhD
, has been awarded $1.6 million by the NIH National Cancer Institute to study the role of Kallikrein 6
in colon cancer.
Dr. Ignatenko, a Research Associate Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University Of Arizona Cancer Center and College of Medicine, will generate data on KLK6 functions and enzymatic activity in colon cancer. It will evaluate KLK6 as a specific molecular marker for colon cancer progression, metastasis and targeted therapy.• Alison Stopeck, MD, spoke
to the US News and World Report
on behalf of new research that suggests that the new drug denosumab (or Xgeva) may be more effective to help treat advanced breast cancer patients and the ensuing bone-related complications than long-time osteoporosis drug zoledronic acid (Zometa).
"It's more effective at preventing bone destruction caused by breast cancer that has spread to the bone," Stopeck said. She was a contributing investigator on this study, which was published in the Aug. 14 issue of Clinical Cancer Research.It's still very early in the process, and many physicians still believe it's too early to rely solely on denosumab over zoledronic acid, but the initial research has been exciting to track.• Lisa Rimsza, MD, was part of a fascinating study regarding Burkitt's lymphoma, which was highlighted in the Aug. 12 edition of Nature. Rimsza, along with nearly four dozen fellow researchers, looked at potential theraputic ways to treat BL, as opposed to the intense chemotherapy that has often been used to treat the disease.The study's introduction states that, "
the toxicity of such therapy precludes its use in the elderly and in patients with endemic BL in developing countries, necessitating new strategies."Through genetic sequencing, the researchers studying the regulatory pathways in the disease that cooperate with what's called, "MYC
, the defining oncogene of this cancer." These findings suggest opportunities to improve therapy for patients with BL.
Sydney Salmon, MD
"He raised the bar for science."This is what current University of Arizona Cancer Center director David Alberts, MD, had to say to the Arizona Daily Star after Dr. Sydney Salmon's passing in 1999.Today, the Star remembers Sydney Salmon, MD, as part of its "100 days of science" series
, spotlighting his tremendous achievements in the field of cancer research.Salmon, the
UA Cancer Center's founding director in 1976, was the key figure behind some landmark cancer research breakthroughs, including his efforts to combat multiple myeloma and breast cancer. Salmon passed away at the age of 63 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
A.E. Araiza, Arizona Daily Star (photo)
In medical research and drug development, the biggest discoveries are often found in the most microscopic packages.
The Sanofi research center in Southern Arizona is among the best at searching for those needles (the potentially useful molecules that may have medical application) in the vast haystacks of scientific discovery.
In the July 24 edition of the Arizona Daily Star
, assistant business editor David Wichner wrote about the exciting possibilities
at the Sanofi research center in Oro Valley — a lab with significant ties to the University of Arizona, as well as the Cancer Center.
UACC founding director Sydney Salmon, former UACC member Kit Lam, and current UACC members Victor Hruby and Evan Hersh formed Selectide Corp. in 1990, which, according to Wichner, "was sold to Marion Merrill Dow in 1995 for $53 million, and through a series of sales and mergers became part of Sanofi in 2004." Sanofi is an enormous French-based multinational pharmaceutical company with more than a dozen potential drug launches set for the next few years.