Jefferson Post-Doc Receives National Cancer Center Fellowship

Dr. Edward Hartsough

Dr. Edward Hartsough

Edward Hartsough, Ph.D. received a post-doctoral fellowship from the National Cancer Center Organization ( http://www.nationalcancercenter.org/ ).  The fellowship grant is entitled “Next-Generation RAF Inhibitors in V600E BRAF Melanoma.”  Dr. Hartsough works in Dr. Andrew Aplin’s lab at the Kimmel Cancer Center.

The National Cancer Center was founded by Dr. J. Ernest Ayre in 1953 as a non-profit organization committed to research and education about cancer. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and its incidence is on the rise. BRAF mutations are found in half of melanomas and the funded work will study new mutant BRAF targeting agents in preclinical models.




KCC To Host Melanoma Research Foundation Symposium

Melanoma Research Foundation

http://www.melanoma.org

CURE OM has announced the inaugural Eyes on a Cure: Patient and Caregiver Symposium to be held on June 16th and 17th, 2012.  The meeting will be held one month after the first CURE OM Scientific Meeting (for physicians and researchers) with the goal of bringing the latest news from the ocular melanoma scientific community directly to patients and their loved ones.  Eyes on a Cure will bring patients, caregivers and researchers from around the world together to offer educational sessions, support groups led by oncology social workers, sessions on complementary therapies, as well as informal time for networking.

This first patient and caregiver symposium will be held in Philadelphia at the Kimmel Cancer Center of Thomas Jefferson University.  Confirmed speakers include: Carol Shields, Takami Sato, David Eschelman, Carin Gonsalves, and James Pingpank.

For more information about the symposium go to the MRF Symposium Announcement



Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Celebrates 20 Years of Patient Care and Cancer Discovery

October 2011 marks 20 years of exceptional cancer care and research at KCC

From October forward, the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson (KCC), a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, is celebrating 20 years of service to the community and the groundbreaking cancer research from the scientists and physicians who’ve provided an invaluable contribution to medical science and healthcare.

“This is truly a milestone for the Kimmel Cancer Center—it’s two decades of caring and collaborating to beat cancer,” says Richard Pestell, M.D., Ph.D., director of the KCC and Chair of the Department of Cancer Biology at Thomas Jefferson University.

“With our multidisciplinary approach, KCC’s team of clinicians and researchers has continued to put their best feet forward to provide excellent, stand-out personalized care for cancer patients in the Philadelphia region and beyond and uncover new pathways to better prevent, diagnose and treat the disease,” he added.

Today, the KCC offers up an experienced team of medical and radiation oncologists, surgeons, pathologists, urologists, neurosurgeons, nurses and other specialists for patients as they fight against cancer. With the Jefferson Breast Care Center, the Bodine Center for Radiation Therapy, the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine, and Jefferson Pancreatic, Biliary Tract and Related Cancer Center, to name a few, patients have access to the best facilities, providers and technologies for cancer screening and treatment.

It was October 1991 when the Jefferson Cancer Institute opened, with the dedication of the Bluemle Life Science Building on the Thomas Jefferson University campus. Four years later, with the awarding of a Cancer Center Support Grant, the National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute (NCI) officially recognized it as one of only 54 NCI-designated cancer centers in the U.S. at the time. The institute took its current name in 1996 when businessman and philanthropist Sidney Kimmel made a generous donation to the institute to expand its research activities.

The donation to Jefferson is not a “gift,” but “an investment for humanity,” Mr. Kimmel told the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1996. “I really believe we’re going to have a breakthrough” in cancer research.

Living up to his expectations, KCC cancer researchers have made significant contributions over the last two decades, including better care in prostate cancer (Leonard Gomella, M.D.); new targets and diagnostics for prostate and breast cancer (Hallgeir Rui, M.D., Ph.D., Dr. Pestell); discoveries in colon cancer (Scott Waldman, M.D., Ph.D); pioneering discoveries in cancer metabolism and stem cells (Michael Lisanti, M.D. Ph.D., Dr. Pestell); better bone marrow transplants (Neal Flomenberg, M.D.); more selective radiation treatment (Adam Dicker, M.D.); and new areas of the human genome to treat (Isidore Rigoutsos, Ph.D., and  Paolo M. Fortina, M.D., Ph.D.).

Dr. Pestell, who became director in 2005, has made significant contributions to understanding cell cycle regulation and the aberrations that can lead to cells turning cancerous. His work identified new molecular markers, and new targets for cancer treatment. An internationally renowned expert in oncology and endocrinology, Dr. Pestell’s record of research funding is outstanding, securing substantial National Institutes of Health grants for the KCC.

Today, KCC’s well-funded basic science programs include cell biology, immunology and structural biology, developmental therapeutics, melanoma, leukemia/lymphoma, prostate and breast cancers, and gastrointestinal and genitourinary cancers. KCC also conducts numerous cancer clinical trials each year aimed at prevention and treatment of cancer.

Two recent clinical trials have resulted in the addition of new procedures at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.  For example, in the Department of Urology, under chairman Leonard Gomella, M.D, a bladder cancer diagnostic tool using an imaging agent and blue light technology is now helping physicians better detect tumors along the bladder lining. Also, a new, two-step approach to half-match bone marrow transplants (where a patient can use a sibling or parent as a donor) developed by Chair of Medical Oncology Neal Flomenberg, M.D., is proving to be a success for blood cancer patients whose options were otherwise limited.  Jefferson is the only hospital in the region performing half-match procedures.

Since being appointed as chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology in 2010, Adam Dicker, M.D., Ph.D., has led extensive clinic renovations and the ongoing addition of new technologies. That includes Bodine’s recently acquired radiation therapy equipment for head and neck and prostate cancer patients and an upcoming radiosurgey instrument designed to deliver higher doses of radiation to smaller areas. Bodine’s state-of-the-art brachytherapy suite is also set to open in early 2012.

Last year, Charles J. Yeo, M.D., Chair of Surgery, performed his 1,000th Whipple procedure.  The Whipple procedure is a major surgical operation involving removal of portions of the pancreas, bile duct and duodenum, and is typically performed to treat malignant tumors involving the pancreas, common bile duct or duodenum.  Jefferson’s surgery department treats more pancreatic cases than anywhere in the region.

Thomas Jefferson University Hospital is consistently ranked in the top 50 best hospitals for treating cancer in America (#31 in 2011) in U.S. News and World Report. What’s more, the hospital has moved up more than 20 places in the past five years for cancer.



Melanoma Awereness Night At The Philles Organized By Kelly Kroll and the “Bonnie Kroll Melanoma Memorial Fund”


May is Melanoma Awareness Month. Kelly Kroll of Ambler PA has set up the “Bonnie Kroll Melanoma Memorial Fund” in honor of her mother who died in 2001 from uveal melanoma. The fund has raised over $150,000 to support research at the the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and the Kimmel Cancer Center of Thomas Jefferson University. Kelly marked the 10th anniversary of the fund by organizing a special Melanoma Awareness night with the Philadelphia Phillies. Jefferson Doctors participated in the attached video and also were present to throw out the first pitch.

Below are some photos of the event at Citizens Bank Park and the check presentation prior to the game. The photos from Citizens Bank Park were provided by photo: Sarah F Wimberley / www.flickfoto.com



Dr. Sato Recieves Generous Gift For Uveal Melanoma Research

Dr. Takami Sato, Mrs. Alison Weinzerl, Mr. Mark Weinzerl, Dr. Richard Pestell

Benefactors Mark and Alison Weinzierl pose with Kimmel Cancer Center Director Dr. Richard G. Pestell (R) and Dr. Takami Sato (L), Professor of Medical Oncology and director of the Uveal Melanoma research program at the KCC.  The Weinzierls (from the Dallas, Texas, area) are providing $1 million in support of Dr. Sato’s work.



KCC Graduate Student Ethan Abel Receives Award From The Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation

Dr. Andrew Aplin, Ethan Abel, Gary Safko and Dr. Richard Pestell

Dr. Andrew Aplin, Ethan Abel, Gary Safko and Dr. Richard Pestell

Graduate student Ethan Abel has been awarded a Research Scholar Award from the Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation. Twenty-four candidates were evaluated for the award.

Ethan Abel, a graduate student working with Andrew Aplin, PhD, in the Kimmel Cancer Center, has received a $10,000 Research Scholar Award from the Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation.

The primary objective of the Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation is to give recognition and support to outstanding graduate students and their institutions that are actively involved in melanoma research. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Ethan’s research will focus on the mutations in a protein called BRAF. Mutant B-RAF alters the expression of other genes in melanocytes to promote uncontrolled growth, resistance to death, and spreading beyond the confines of the skin. One gene that is suppressed by mutant B-RAF is called FOXD3, which functions as a cellular switch by turning the expression of genes on and off as needed. Ethan’s research will seek to determine how FOXD3 induces a growth arrest in melanoma cells, how B-RAF suppresses FOXD3 expression, and what factors can induce its expression. A further understanding of the role and regulation of FOXD3 in melanoma may lead to novel therapies for treating the disease.

Also pictured: Gary Safko, President, Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation and Dr. Richard Pestell, Director, Kimmel Cancer Center

Learn more about the: Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation



Melanoma Monday

May is Skin Cancer Detection & Prevention Month, so accordingly this coming Monday is "Melanoma Monday". Although having an unfortunate name, the topic it raises is no laughing matter as skin cancer is the most diagnosed cancer type with over 1 million new diagnosis in the United States each year and rising. So if you haven’t lately, take a little longer look in the mirror this weekend and use the resources below to find out more about self-examination. And if your needing a push to get out of the house and get screened, let free skin cancer screenings from Jefferson Dermatology Associates in the Philadelphia area on the 22nd (Friday) and the 27th (Wednesday) of this month be your motivation. Call 1-800-JEFF-NOW to make an appointment soon, as they are booking up quickly. For other locations, the American Academy of Dermatology has a location search on their website to find a free screening in you area.



New Therapeutic Target for Melanoma Identified

Dr. Andrew Aplin

Dr. Andrew Aplin

A protein called Mcl-1 plays a critical role in melanoma cell resistance to a form of apoptosis called anoikis, according to research published this week in Molecular Cancer Research.

The presence of Mcl-1 causes cell resistance to anoikis. This resistance to anoikis enables the melanoma cells to metastasize and survive at sites distant from the primary tumor, according to Andrew Aplin, Ph.D., an associate professor of Cancer Biology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, and a member of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson. The research was conducted at Albany Medical College in New York by Dr. Aplin and colleagues.

Mcl-1 is part of the Bcl-2 protein family, and is regulated by B-RAF proteins, which are mutated in approximately 60 percent of all human melanomas.  The Bcl-2 family includes several prosurvival proteins that are associated with the resistance of cancer cells to apoptosis, or cell death. Dr. Aplin and colleagues analyzed three candidate Bcl-2 proteins: Mcl-1, Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL.

Read more…