Volume 1, Issue 7

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Cancer Awareness Month

April Ribbons
April is…
Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month
Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Month
Testicular Cancer Awareness Month
Never Walk Alone
Opera, Art Songs & Broadway Melodies for GRU Cancer Center
Never Walk Alone Photo7:30pm, April 19
Maxwell Theatre
Summerville Campus
Learn more: gru.edu/cancer/songs

Research Poster Templates & Printing

materials Downloadable 48 x 36 research poster templates are available online.Poster printers are available on the 2nd Floor.Visit our Branding & Identity page now.
We Are All in a Relationship

Director's Corner: Samir N. Khleif, MD
“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”C.G. Jung

When The Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament, through the Community Foundation of the CSRA, presented the GRU Cancer Center with a very generous gift of $6 million earlier this year, it meant more than merely seed money for our planned projects. It was what all involved hope is the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship.

Often we get caught up in the quantifiable, the data and numbers we frequently use to dictate success. And while those metrics are important, it is just as essential to realize and remember that relationships – impossible to measure and assign worth – are as well.

We, at the Cancer Center, are part of a community– a community of scientists, physicians and professionals brought together by our common goals. But we are also part of larger communities. The medical community. The local community. The global community. And it is important to remember that when we interact in those communities, we do it as part of this Cancer Center team.

I truly believe that I could not ask for a finer group of professionals to fulfill that task. We are more than mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. We are professionals, professionals uniquely qualified to tell the incredible story we are still in the process of writing. It’s up to us to tell it. So go out into your community – whatever it may be – and represent us well.

Have you Heard…?

Featured Research

Grants News

  • Hasan Korkaya, DVM, PhD, brings to the GRU Cancer Center the remainder of his 3-year Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Career Catalyst Research grant “Targeting breast cancer stem cells by blocking both intrinsic (Akt) and extrinsic (IL-6) signaling pathways in metastatic mouse xenograft models” that was awarded $450K during his tenure at the University of Michigan.This research will investigate the role of signals from the tumor microenvironment in regulating breast cancer stem cells (CSCs) and will determine whether inhibition of both intrinsic (PI3-K/Akt) and extrinsic (IL-6) signals will effectively target aggressive breast CSCs in mouse xenograft models of aggressive metastatic breast cancer, developed by the Korkaya laboratory. This unique approach simultaneously targets two most important signals believed to contribute to the aggressive/metastatic breast cancer phenotype.  Since an IL-6 inhibitor is already FDA-approved for rheumatoid arthritis and has been under preclinical studies for number of human malignancies as a single agent, the present study has the potential of rapidly translating into the clinic.
  • Esteban Celis, MD, PhD, brings to the GRU Cancer Center the remainder of his NCI/NIH R01 grant, “Treatment of Melanoma with Optimized Peptide Vaccines” that was awarded $1.7M during his tenure at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL.Using a mouse model of malignant melanoma, this research will optimize a novel, 3-component vaccine developed by the Celis laboratory to generate preclinical data that will allow this approach to be explored in the clinic to treat human patients with melanoma and other types of cancers.
  • Yukai He, MD, PhD, received a 5-year, $1.6M R01 grant from NIH/NCI for “Engineering alpha fetoprotein and glypican-3 to develop hepatoma (HCC) vaccines.” This project is proposed to develop an effective hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) vaccine through innovative antigen engineering to prevent autochthonous HCC in an animal model. The study will generate critical preclinical data that can help the development of a human HCC vaccine, which eventually lead to novel adjuvant therapy to prevent HCC post-surgery relapse. An HCC vaccine also offers an attractive approach to prevent HCC de novo development in high risk populations, shifting the focus of HCC management from therapy to prevention, which is what a vaccine does best.
  • Feng-Ming (Spring) Kong, MD, PhD, brings to the GRU Cancer Center the remaining 2 years  of her 5-year NCI/NIH R01 grant, “Functional Image and Molecular Marker to Individualize Adaptive Radiation Dose Escalation” that was awarded $2.0M during her tenure at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. The goal of this research is to identify markers to predict treatment outcome for lung cancer patients and to study the potential for personalized care to improve treatment outcome.
  • Samir Khleif, MD, received a 1-year, $187.5K grant from NewLink Genetics Corporation for “Elucidation of biomarkers associated with administration of IDO-inhibitors.”­­­ Research in the Khleif laboratory focuses on understanding interactions between the immune system and tumors to then develop novel immunotherapies against cancer.  Support from NewLink Genetics will fund research designed to identify unique genetic signatures associated with successful immunotherapy against IDO protein signaling – signaling that is used by tumors to escape immune-mediated rejection.  The group has established a technique for taking pre- and post-treatment biopsies that will facilitate this biomarker discovery.


Newly Activated Clinical Trials

  • Samir Khleif, MD, received $957K from NewLink Genetics, Corp., for “A Phase I Study of NLG-919 for Adult Patients with Recurrent Advanced Solid Tumors.”


Recent Publications

  • * Brücher BL, Lyman G, van Hillegersberg R, Pollock RE, Lordick F, Yang HK, Ushijima T, Yeoh KG, Skricka T, Polkowski W, Wallner G, Verwaal V, Garofalo A, D’Ugo D, Roviello F, Steinau HU, Wallace TJ, Daumer M, Maihle N, Reid TJ 3rd, Ducreux M, Kitagawa Y, Knuth A, Zilberstein B, Steele SR, Jamall IS. Imagine a world without cancer. BMC Cancer. 2014 Mar 14;14(1):186.

* No 1 accessed article on the BMC Cancer website within 6 days only (>1,200 accesses) and No 3 accessed hard copy article within 30 days.

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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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