Volume 1, Issue 11

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Cancer Awareness Month

October is…

  • Breast Cancer
  • Liver Cancer

GRU Cancer Center Clinical Employee of the Month

Laura Logue, RN, MSN, AOCN

Laura Logue“Laura connects with her patients, identifies their needs, and calms their fears while providing excellent nursing care to the patient and their family. She communicates with her patients in a way that is indescribable. You must witness it to understand it’s wonderful impact on her patients.”


Welcome New Staff

  • Shannon Albert, RN, Infusion
  • Roxan Ara, Research Assistant, Chaperone Biology
  • Allegra Blair, Admin Asst, Radiation Oncology
  • Judith Chang, Research Assistant, Chaperone Biology
  • Monica Cromer, Pharmacist
  • Argenail Darrington, Project Coordinator
  • Laquana Foster, Registered Nurse, Inpatient Services
  • Brittany Frankhouser, Nurse Practitioner
  • Briana Golphin, Registered Nurse, Inpatient Services
  • Quar-an Green, Administrative Assistant
  • Rosanne Gschwendner, Dietitian
  • Brian Griffin, Pharmacist
  • Michal Kuczma, Research Associate, Cancer Immunology, Inflammation and Tolerance
  • Xin Li, Post Doc, Molecular Oncology and Biomarkers
  • Kenza Mamouni, Post Doc, Molecular Oncology and Biomarkers
  • Selena Menendez, Desk Operations
  • Ena Novakovic, Post Doc, Molecular Oncology and Biomarkers
  • Amber Otis, Nurse Navigator
  • Surendra Rajpurohit, Post Doc, Chaperone Biology
  • Nicole Walker, Family Support Coordinator with Patient & Family Centered Care
  • Wei Yang, Post Doc, Cancer Immunology, Inflammation and Tolerance
  • Jinling Yuan, Research Assistant, Chaperone Biology


The following nurses recently earned their oncology certification of nursing:

  • Neva Harrison
  • Angela Hornsby
  • Steve McKinnon
  • Karen Ryan

The GRU Cancer Center Postdoctoral Graduate Association (PGA) is now on LinkedIn!

The PGA has recently developed a LinkedIn group for the professional trainees at the GRU Cancer Center. This group will be used as a means for the PGA to share useful information, including professional development seminar announcements, social event plans, and postings of potential fellowships and job opportunities. Join Us!

Reflections on Success: It’s all in how you look at it.

Director's Corner: Samir N. Khleif, MD
“The successful person and the unsuccessful person are looking at the same world. The difference between them is what they see.”Dr. Steve Maraboli

There are many sides to a success story. How we gauge success is often a matter perception, a matter of point of view.

Such is the case with the NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) grant recently awarded to the GRU Cancer Center. It’s a success story that reflects differently on the Cancer Center and the work we do here, depending on how you look at it.

On one hand, this is a welcome tool. It increases our ability to not only address those issues of disparity that we have made a priority here, but grants us the privilege of partnering with like-minded scientists and clinicians across the state.

It’s also a validation. Competition for these grants was fierce and to receive one means more than just an acknowledgment of good intentions. It’s sends the message that the work we are doing here, both in terms of minority and underserved populations and generally, meets that standard of excellence we all strive for. We work hard, people notice and we are rewarded. We are rewarded with grants, such as NCORP, but also with the knowledge that the work we do here can, and will, make a difference.

That’s a win, no matter what your perspective.

Have you Heard…?

  • GRU Cancer Center-led Statewide Consortium Awarded NCI Grant to Lead Only NCORP Minority/Underserved Community Site in Georgia
    The GRU Cancer Center has been awarded a five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to lead an NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) Minority/Underserved Community Site. Working in partnership with the Morehouse School of Medicine (Atlanta), University Cancer and Blood Center (Athens) and the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health at Georgia Southern University (Statesboro), GRU Cancer Center will use the grant to increase awareness of and participation in NCI-sponsored clinical trials and cancer care delivery research throughout Georgia, particularly among minority and underserved populations. >> Continue reading
  • The STARs Are Out
    Each summer, GRU hosts its Student Training and Research – STAR – Program, designed to introduce undergraduate students to the world of biomedical research. The nine-week program provides mentored, hands-on experience to jumpstart the development of foundational skills for a future career in the biomedical sciences. >> Continue reading
  • NIH Annual Progress Reports and Individual Development Plans
    On August 4, 2014, NIH released a revised notice on the use of individual development plans for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.  “NIH annual progress reports received on/after October 1, 2014 must include a section to describe how individual development plans (IDPs) are used to identify and promote the career goals of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers associated with the award. >> Continue reading
  • GRU Cancer Center Postdoctoral Graduate Association
    We are pleased to announce that the Postdoctoral Graduate Association (PGA) for research trainees at the GRU Cancer Center is up and rolling! The purpose of the PGA is to improve career development resources for trainees and to promote a network of collaboration among trainees at GRU and the Cancer Center. Peer mentorship has been shown to contribute to the career success and satisfaction of scientists across disciplines (Johnson et al, Acad Med. 2011 86:1577-82).  >> Continue reading
  • Two New Series sponsored by the GRU Cancer Center Education Program
    In response to feedback from the recently formed GRU Cancer Center Postdoctoral-Graduate Association (PGA), the GRU Cancer Center Education Program will begin a Professional Skills Development series this Fall. This series reflects the Cancer Center’s commitment to the career goals and advancement of all cancer research trainees at GRU.  Bi-monthly interactive and engaging Professional Skills Development sessions will be organized during the coming year to provide the opportunity for trainees at all levels to improve their professional skills. The GRU Cancer Center Education Program is also launching an exciting new series called Pathways to Success. This series is intended to consist of interactive discussions – not seminars – that allow successful scientists from diverse backgrounds and various careers to share with Cancer Center trainees how they have successfully navigated key decision-making periods. >> Continue reading

Research Highlights

  •  New Clinical Trial Strategy for Cancer Vaccines
    A report recently published in Clinical Cancer Research by Dr. Samir Khleif along with colleagues from the University of Virginia and the National Cancer Institute addresses the FDA’s recognition of a needed paradigm shift in the approach to cancer vaccine development. Since the mechanism of action of cancer vaccines is distinct from that for cytotoxic agents, the applicability of the traditional phase I dose escalation design to identify a maximum tolerated dose or biologically active dose has been questioned. >> Continue reading
  • Making No Escape for Tumors
    GRU Cancer Center researchers have identified a previously overlooked mechanism that gives tumors an advantage in evading chemoimmunotherapy – and propose how to prevent this evasion to achieve a lasting curative effect. A problem in treating cancer is that many anti-cancer drugs, including cyclophosphamide (CTX), work only initially, followed by tumor relapse.   Although CTX is used to stimulate the immune system’s action against tumors, it can also activate cells that suppress immune responses.  Recently published in Cancer Research, a team led by Dr. Gang Zhou, along with Cancer Center colleagues Drs. Lei Huang, Kebin Liu, Andrew Mellor, and David Munn, discovered a mechanism responsible for this suppression. >> Continue reading
  • Improving Anticancer Immune Strategies
    Researchers at the GRU Cancer Center of Georgia Regents University in Augusta, Georgia have identified a way to boost the immune system’s efficacy against cancer.  Often immune therapies are stunted due to an increase in immune cells called regulatory T cells (Tregs), which suppress immune responses.  Being able to inhibit Tregs without affecting other immune cells has been an ongoing challenge to the development of anticancer immunotherapies. Published in Cancer Immunology Research, a study led by Dr. Samir Khleif, GRU Cancer Center Director, presents a promising new approach. >> Continue reading

Grant News

  • Ali Arbab, MD, PhD, brings to the GRU Cancer Center the remaining $94K of his NCI/NIH R01 grant, “In vivo detection of involvement of endogenous BM progenitor cells in glioma” that was awarded during his time at the Henry Ford Health System.Description: The proposed investigations will shed new lights on the mechanisms of tumor neovascularization following anti-angiogenic/anti-vasculogenic treatments and apply both optical and MR imaging techniques to track changes in the tumor. Specifically, researchers will: 1) create a chimeric animal model by replacing bone marrow cells with GFP+ bone marrow, 2) use established imaging modalities and techniques to determine, in vivo, the changes in the tumors during anti-angiogenic/anti-vasculogenic treatments, 3) track the migration of endogenous GFP+ bone marrow progenitor cells to the sites of tumor, using optical imaging, 4) use exogenous stem cells to determine the role of stem cells during anti-angiogenic/anti-vasculogenic treatments by MRI, and 5) use both optical imaging and cellular MRI to track how progenitor cells become involved in tumor angiogenesis/vasculogenesis during anti-angiogenic/anti-vasculogenic treatments.
  • Daron Ferris, MD, received a $40.7K subcontract from a Georgia Southern University NCI/NIH R01 for “Implementation evaluation of a cervical cancer screening initiative in Cusco, Peru.” Description: This project aims to positively impact the gynecological health of Quechua women in the Andean region of Peru. Its innovative design proposes Rapid Assessment Procedures (RAP) to evaluate a large cervical cancer screening initiative and then formulate and implement social media-based intervention to increase participation in screenings.

New Clinical Trials

  • Samir Khleif, MD: “Phase 1-2 Study Evaluating High Dose ADXS11-001 (1 x 1010 CFU) Treatment in Women with HPV+ Carcinoma of the Cervix” (Advaxis, Inc.)
  • Samir Khleif, MD: “A Phase I/II Study of the Concomitant Administration of Indoximod plus Ipilimumab for Adult Patients with Metastatic Melanoma” (NewLink Genetics, Corp.)
  • Asha Nayak, MD: A Phase 1/2 Study of Indoximod in Combination with Gemcitabine and Nab-Paclitaxel in Patients with Metastatic Adenocarcinoma of the Pancreas”(NewLink Genetics, Corp.)
  • Zhonglin Hao, MD: “A Phase 1b, Open-Label, Dose Escalation Trial Investigating Different Doses and Schedules of SYM004 in Combination with Platinum-Doublets in Subjects with Stage IV Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer”(EMD Serono, Inc.)

Recent Publications

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Jagwire is the official source for news and stories from Augusta University and AU Health. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia. Read on for stories of innovation in education and health care, opportunities at the center of Georgia’s new cybersecurity hub, and experiential learning that blends arts and application, humanities and the health sciences. Have a story to share with Jaguar Nation? Contact the Division of Communications & Marketing.
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