Volume 1, Issue 12

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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

Dr. Shou-Ching Tang has been invited to chair and speak at the 19th
World Congress on Advances in Oncology and 17th International Symposium on Molecular Medicine, October 9-11, 2014, Metropolitan Hotel, Athens, Greece.

Dr. Shou-Ching Tang joins Drs. Jian Yue Jin and Samir Khleif as editors
of the ScienceScript Open Access Journal, Journal of Cancer Studies and

Drs. Frank Mott, Shou-Ching Tang, and Jeremy Pantin have been selected
to serve as editors for the International Journal of Cancer and Clinical
Research, an open-access journal focused on innovative clinical and
translational cancer research. 

Dr. Ali Arbab has been asked to act as an expert reviewer for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM),  a public agency that manages the $3 billion dollars California voters set aside for funding stem cell and regenerative medicine research at non-profit institutions and companies throughout California. Dr. Arbab will be reviewing applications submitted in response to the CIRM Tools and Technology initiative, designed to support research addressing regenerative medicine’s unique translational challenges, including bottlenecks in the areas of cell engraftment, preclinical evaluation, cell tracking and cost-efficient production of stem cell therapies. CIRM will commit up to $35 million to support up to 20 awards for 3 years each. 



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!

Communing with the community: Our approach to building bridges

Director's Corner: Samir N. Khleif, MD
A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm.”Henrik Ibsen

The GRU Cancer Center’s place in the community is, as it should be, primarily as a place of science, care and healing. It is, after all, our primary purpose. That said, it’s important to remember that life is lived outside the walls of those clinics and laboratories and, for much of the community, the things we do here are more of an abstract idea than a concrete reality.

Which is why to become part of the community, we must go out into the community.

In September we enjoyed having a presence at the Arts in the Heart of Augusta Festival where we were able to actively engage with community members. This past weekend participated as community partners in the Color Run and Westobou Festival, celebrating cancer awareness and survivorship. We see this as not only a means of educating the public on issues of cancer prevention, research and treatment, but also as a way of communicating that we consider the community home. We want to engage. We will engage. It’s how relationships are built, and an institution like the Cancer Center depends on strong community ties.

So I encourage you to go to these events. Volunteer at our booths if you are able. If not, be part of the process of connecting. Help us ensure that, when people speak of the CSRA, the GRU Cancer Center is part of the conversation.

Have you Heard…?

  • Lung Cancer Screening Program Expands
    The GRU Cancer Center and the GRHealth Department of Radiology have teamed to offer lung screenings to patients meeting certain high-risk criteria at no cost. The program, established by Dr. Carsten Schroeder, uses computerized tomography, or CT, to create a series of detailed scans of areas inside the body. >> Continue reading
  • Artist Spotlight: Thomas Lyles
    The GRU Cancer Center is fortunate to have many local artists contribute their work for display in our out-patient clinic. To celebrate their contributions to our Center, we’re shining a spotlight on each artist each month. >> Continue reading

Featured Research

  • Betty Pace, MD, received a 4-year, $1,347,032 R25 grant from NIH/NHLBI for “PRIDE: Functional and Translational Genomics of Blood Disorders.”
    Description: The Georgia Regents University (GRU) PRIDE program will strategically complement the efforts of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to promote diversity in the US biomedical workforce. One of the most important challenges faced in healthcare today is a lack of diversity in biomedical research. Mentoring and training are essential for the retention and recruitment of underrepresented faculty in academic medical institutions. The PRIDE Summer Institute at GRU will address these challenges by offering a mentored research development experience in functional and translational genomics for junior scientists interested in human blood diseases. They will learn grant writing skills and hands-on bench research skills related to proteomics, molecular and cellular techniques, as well as how to design competitive research projects to help them achieve their fullest career potential, including successful attainment of extramural grant funding.This award is a competitive renewal of a grant that was originally issued in 2006 to Dr. Pace while she was at the University of Texas at Dallas.  The NHLBI-funded program was known at that time as SIPID (Summer Institute Program to Increase Diversity in Health Related Research).  In 2010, Dr. Pace was recruited as a faculty member to Georgia Regents University, and with her came the program, which was renamed PRIDE, for Programs to Increase Diversity Among Individuals Engaged in Health-Related Research. Under Dr. Pace’s direction of both programs, 48 junior faculty (mainly assistant professors) from institutions across the United States have been trained. “The PRIDE program leadership is dedicated to the academic success and diversity of early-stage investigators conducting basic/translational blood disorders research,” said Dr. Pace.


New Clinical Trial

  • Daron G. Ferris, MD, received support from Cepheid for “Clinical evaluation of the Xpert AÒ TV assay”


Grant News

  • Sharad Ghamande, MD, received a 5-year, $3.1M NCI/NIH UG1 award, “Georgia CaRes.”
    Description: Georgia Regents University (GRU) has been home to Georgia’s only NCI Minority-Based Community Clinical Oncology Program (MB-CCOP) since 2004. With its affiliate site, University Cancer & Blood Center (UCBC), GRU has enrolled nearly 800 patients to NCI clinical trials: 39% of them African American (AA) and other minorities, with accrual split between treatment trials (48%) and prevention and control trials (52%). Building on this successful track record, the “Georgia Cares” award supports the joining of GRU Cancer Center and UCBC with Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) and the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health (JPHCOPH) at Georgia Southern University to become the NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) Minority/Underserved Community Site for Georgia. The state of Georgia represents a unique opportunity to pursue research directed towards cancer disparities and to affect minority and underserved communities’ accrual to clinical trials and cancer care delivery research studies: Of its 9.9M residents, 30% are AA (vs. 12% in the U.S.), and 75% of its counties are rural – most of them medically underserved. The need to sustain and grow an NCORP that focuses on minority and underserved populations in Georgia is great. Georgia has some of the nation’s worst cancer disparities, particularity between African Americans (AA) and Caucasians (CA) and between rural and urban populations. The disparities are glaring for some of the most common cancers. Not only do AA men in Georgia have the highest rate of prostate cancer among AA men in the country, they are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with the disease as CA men in Georgia and three times as likely to die from it. In Georgia, AA women die of breast cancer 25% more often than CA women, and AA die of colorectal cancer 45% more than CA. Georgia’s NCORP M/U Site will ensure greater access to state-of-the-art cancer care across the state and broader translation of research findings into public health and clinical practice.
  • Kebin Liu, PhD, received a 5-year, NCI/NIH R01, “Role of NF-kB in Fas-mediated apoptosis and tumor suppression”
    Description: Fas is a member of the death receptor superfamily. The major and best known function of Fas is apoptosis. Stimulation of the Fas receptor also activates “non-apoptotic” signaling, notably NF-kB activation. However, the function of Fas-mediated NF-kB activation remains largely unknown. Our preliminary studies demonstrated that canonical NF-kB is a transcription activator of Fas and a promoter of Fas-mediated apoptosis, whereas the alternate NF-kB is a transcription repressor of Fas and suppressor of Fas-mediated apoptosis in both human colon carcinoma cells and in mouse embryonic fibroblasts. Furthermore, our preliminary studies demonstrated that blocking canonical NF-kB activation results in significantly increased colon carcinoma cell metastatic potential in vivo. Based on these observations, we hypothesize that subunit composition is the molecular switch that controls the contrasting functions of the NF-kB protein complexes in Fas-mediated apoptosis, and pharmacological intervention of Fas resistance is an effective approach to increase CTL immunotherapy efficacy against colon cancer metastasis. Our long-term goal is to develop a Fas-based therapy to suppress human colorectal cancer metastasis. This research project has the potential to develop an adjunct therapy to overcome Fas resistance to increase the efficacy of immunotherapy for effective suppression of spontaneous colon cancer metastasis.
  • Nahid Mivechi, PhD, received a 5-year, $1.5M NCI/NIH R01, “Role of heat shock transcription factor HSF1 in tumorigenesis”
    Description: This research will study how heat shock transcription factor 1 (Hsf1) functions in the regulation of cell metabolism and inflammation, which are critical factors for malignant cell proliferation and liver cancer development. Results will provide rationale for developing novel preventive and therapeutic strategies for cancers, including hepatocellular carcinoma, that arise on the background of chronic hepatic injury due to impaired liver metabolism and proteostasis.
  • Ali Sayed Arbab, MBBS, PhD, received a 2-year subcontract to conduct research pertaining to an NCI/NIH R21, “MRI of magnetically labeled immune/stem cells for early tumor detection (PQC5),” awarded to the University of Michigan.
    Description: The ability to detect very small tumors (104 – 105 cells; 0.001 – 0.01 mm3), 2-3 orders of magnitude smaller than currently possible, would have a profound impact on cancer treatment. The Arbab laboratory’s unique and innovative approach for detection of cancer is to use MRI to track the infiltration of magnetically labeled monocytes and mesenchymal stem cells into very small tumors. While this proposal focuses on glioma, successful completion of this project opens up the possibility of using this methodology for detection of multiple cancer types in other anatomical locations.
  • Anatolij Horuzsko, MD, PhD, received a 5-year, $1.6M R01 grant from NCI/NIH for “TREM-1 and Its Implications to Cancer.”
    Description: A connection between inflammation and cancer has been long suspected. The Horuzsko laboratory has identified mechanisms of chronic inflammation leading to liver carcinogenesis – and that this process can be diminished by inhibiting a molecule called TREM-1 in experimental models. This R01 will support further research studying the role of TREM-1 in controlling initiation and progression of liver tumorigenesis. The knowledge gained should help develop strategies for potent anti-cancer prevention and novel clinical and preclinical therapeutic approaches that target the immune and non-immune components of liver tumors. Additionally, this research may benefit patients with a variety of inflammatory diseases, including allergy and autoimmune diseases.



Recent Publications

  • Duke WS, Bush CM, Singer MC, Haskins AD, Waller JL, Terris DJ. Incision Planning in Thyroid Compartment Surgery: Getting it Perfect. Endocr Pract. 2014 Aug 22:1-27. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Lemos H, Huang L, McGaha TL, Mellor AL. Cytosolic DNA Sensing via the Stimulator of Interferon Genes (STING) Adaptor: The Yin and Yang of Immune Responses to DNA. Eur J Immunol. 2014 Aug 20. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Dave SR, Samuel TA, Pucar D, Savage N, Williams HT. FDG PET/CT in Evaluation of Unusual Cutaneous Manifestations of Breast Cancer. Clin Nucl Med. 2014 Aug 19. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Li N, Chen M, Truong S, Yan C, Buttyan R. Determinants of Gli2 co-activation of wildtype and naturally truncated androgen receptors. Prostate. 2014 Oct;74(14):1400-10.
  • Jha V, Workman CJ, McGaha TL, Li L, Vas J, Vignali DA, Monestier M. Lymphocyte Activation Gene-3 (LAG-3) Negatively Regulates Environmentally-Induced Autoimmunity. PLoS One. 2014 Aug 14;9(8):e104484. eCollection 2014.
  • Myer CM 4th, Johnson CM, Postma GN, Weinberger PM. Comparison of tensile strength of fibrin glue and suture in microflap closure. Laryngoscope. 2014 Aug 5. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Jones MC, Rueggeberg FA, Cunningham AJ, Faircloth HA, Jana T, Mettenburg D, Waller JL, Postma GN, Weinberger PM. Biomechanical changes from long-term freezer storage and cellular reduction of tracheal scaffoldings. Laryngoscope. 2014 Aug 5. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Abu-Eid R, Samara RN, Ozbun L, Abdalla MY, Berzofsky JA, Friedman KM, Mkrtichyan M, Khleif SN. Selective inhibition of regulatory T cells by targeting PI3K-Akt pathway. Cancer Immunol Res. 2014 Jul 30. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Menzel S, Rooks H, Zelenika D, Mtatiro SN, Gnanakulasekaran A, Drasar E, Cox S, Liu L, Masood M, Silver N, Garner C, Vasavda N, Howard J, Makani J, Adekile A, Pace B, Spector T, Farrall M, Lathrop M, Thein SL. Global Genetic Architecture of an Erythroid Quantitative Trait Locus, HMIP-2. Ann Hum Genet. 2014 Jul 29. [Epub ahead of print]
  • He MF, Gao XP, Li SC, He ZH, Chen N, Wang YB, She JX. Anti-angiogenic effect of auranofin on HUVECs in vitro and zebrafish in vivo. Eur J Pharmacol. 2014 Jul 24;740C:240-247. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Duke WS, Chaung K, Terris DJ. Contemporary Surgical Techniques. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2014 Aug;47(4):529-544. Review.
  • Zakharia Y, Rahma O, Khleif SN. Ovarian cancer from an immune perspective. Radiat Res. 2014 Aug;182(2):239-51.
  • Refaey ME, Zhong Q, Ding KH, Shi XM, Xu J, Bollag WB, Hill WD, Chutkan N, Robbins R, Nadeau H, Johnson M, Hamrick MW, Isales CM. Impact of dietary aromatic amino acids on osteoclastic activity. Calcif Tissue Int. 2014 Aug;95(2):174-82.
  • Lee YY, Gangireddy V, Khurana S, Rao SS. Are We Ready for Combination Therapy in Moderate-to-Severe Ulcerative Colitis? Gastroenterology. 2014 Aug;147(2):544.
  • Schaeffer DJ, Krafft CE, Schwarz NF, Chi L, Rodrigue AL, Pierce JE, Allison JD, Yanasak NE, Liu T, Davis CL, McDowell JE. The relationship between uncinate fasciculus white matter integrity and verbal memory proficiency in children. Neuroreport. 2014 Aug 20;25(12):921-5.
  • Barman SA, Chen F, Su Y, Dimitropoulou C, Wang Y, Catravas JD, Han W, Orfi L, Szantai-Kis C, Keri G, Szabadkai I, Barabutis N, Rafikova O, Rafikov R, Black SM, Jonigk D, Giannis A, Asmis R, Stepp DW, Ramesh G, Fulton DJ. NADPH oxidase 4 is expressed in pulmonary artery adventitia and contributes to hypertensive vascular remodeling. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2014 Aug;34(8):1704-15.
  • Janes K, Little JW, Li C, Bryant L, Chen C, Chen Z, Kamocki K, Doyle T, Snider A, Esposito E, Cuzzocrea S, Bieberich E, Obeid L, Petrache I, Nicol G, Neumann WL, Salvemini D. The Development and Maintenance of Paclitaxel-induced Neuropathic Pain Require Activation of the Sphingosine 1-Phosphate Receptor Subtype 1. J Biol Chem. 2014 Jul 25;289(30):21082-21097.
  • Barik A, Zhang B, Sohal GS, Xiong WC, Mei L. Crosstalk between Agrin and Wnt signaling pathways in development of vertebrate neuromuscular junction. Dev Neurobiol. 2014 Aug;74(8):828-38.
  • Sierra RA, Thevenot P, Raber PL, Cui Y, Parsons C, Ochoa AC, Trillo-Tinoco J, Valle LD, Rodriguez PC. Rescue of Notch-1 Signaling in Antigen-Specific CD8+ T Cells Overcomes Tumor-Induced T-cell Suppression and Enhances Immunotherapy in Cancer. Cancer Immunol Res. 2014 Aug;2(8):800-11.
  • Schaeffer DJ, Krafft CE, Schwarz NF, Chi L, Rodrigue AL, Pierce JE, Allison JD, Yanasak NE, Liu T, Davis CL, McDowell JE. An 8-month exercise intervention alters frontotemporal white matter integrity in overweight children. Psychophysiology. 2014 Aug;51(8):728-33.
  • Dinkins MB, Dasgupta S, Wang G, Zhu G, Bieberich E. Exosome reduction in vivo is associated with lower amyloid plaque load in the 5XFAD mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Neurobiol Aging. 2014 Aug;35(8):1792-800.
  • Gonzales JN, Kim KM, Zemskova MA, Rafikov R, Heeke B, Varn MN, Black S, Kennedy TP, Verin AD, Zemskov EA. Low anticoagulant heparin blocks thrombin-induced endothelial permeability in a PAR-dependent manner. Vascul Pharmacol. 2014 Aug;62(2):63-71.
  • Arthur ME, Odo N, Parker W, Weinberger PM, Patel VS. CASE 9-2014: Supracarinal Tracheal Tear After Atraumatic Endotracheal Intubation: Anesthetic Considerations for Surgical Repair. J Cardiothorac Vasc Anesth. 2014 Aug;28(4):1149-57.
  • Coss-Adame E, Erdogan A, Rao SS. Treatment of esophageal (noncardiac) chest pain: an expert review. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2014 Aug;12(8):1224-45.
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About Jagwire

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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