Use of Telemedicine at N.C. Cancer Hospital Highlighted in SC Magazine

CHAPEL HILL, NC - The article "TECH Rx: Technology and health care" written by Greg Masters and published in the October 1, 2010 issue of SC Magazine highlights the use of telemedicine at the N.C. Cancer Hospital.

The article quotes Michael Young, director of telemedicine at the N.C. Cancer Hospital, and Richard Goldberg, MD, N.C. Cancer Hospital physician-in-chief and UNC Lineberger associate director of clinical research.

SC Magazine is a business news magazine that provides information about IT security education, news and vendors. Published by Haymarket Media Inc., it is the longest running information security magazine in the world, with the widest distribution.

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UNC Lineberger Announces Jessica Breland Comeback Kids Fund

ABC Anchor Robin Roberts Guest of Honor at Kickoff Event

CHAPEL HILL, NC - Eighteen months after standout forward Jessica Breland was diagnosed with cancer, friends and supporters will gather at the Carolina Club in Chapel Hill for a very special evening kicking off a fundraising effort in her honor – for a cause very close to her heart.

UNC Women's Basketball Coach Sylvia Hatchell will host the gala "Rebounds and Rhinestones" dinner to benefit the Jessica Breland Comeback Kids Fund to support cancer research and treatment at UNC's pediatric oncology program.

The evening's guest of honor and keynote speaker will be ABC Good Morning America Anchor Robin Roberts.  Roberts, a cancer survivor, anchors an Emmy-award winning program and has interviewed leading newsmakers including President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, actor Sidney Poitier and former First Lady Laura Bush.

The public can purchase tickets to the "Rebounds and Rhinestones" gala, which will kick off a season-long effort that will allow fans to honor Breland's comeback by making a donation to the fund named in her honor.  Student and community groups can also host events and organize fundraisers to benefit pediatric cancer research and treatment at UNC.

Breland, a 6-foot-3 forward from Kelford, NC, was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma in May, 2009 and treated at the N.C. Cancer Hospital, clinical home of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.  While undergoing treatment, she red-shirted the season, but was present on the sidelines, supporting her teammates.

Coach Sylvia Hatchell says that Breland has become a stronger leader since her diagnosis and has been working very hard to come back strong this season.  "That's why it's really appropriate to honor her desire to give back to kids with cancer by naming this effort the Jessica Breland Comeback Kids Fund.  It sends a message of strength and hope and honors how hard she's worked at her comeback – and, truly, every kid with cancer deserves that same shot at a comeback," she noted.

The gala will be held November 6, 2010 at 6:30 p.m. at the Carolina Club, George Watts Hill Alumni Center.  In addition to special guest Robin Roberts, the evening will feature entertainment by fiddling storyteller and Chapel Hillian Mike Cross.

NOTE TO MEDIA: Video package available.

UNC Scientist Receives NIH Director’s New Innovator Award

Project Focuses on Efficient, Low-Cost Genetic Analysis

CHAPEL HILL, NC - Ben Major, PhD, assistant professor of cell and developmental biology, has been awarded one of 52 National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator Awards, one of the NIH’s most prestigious grants.

The $1.5 million grant will fund his work to address a significant medical science challenge: identifying the full complement of genes that functionally contribute to specific cellular and disease processes such as cancer.

Major, a member of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, notes that in model systems such as flies, yeast and mice, scientists can specifically inactivate a gene within the genome to ascertain its function on the cellular or whole animal level.  Until now, similar gene-knockout approaches have not been possible for the human genome.

He will build on previous scientific work to quickly and inexpensively determine the function of human genes in the context of specific cellular behaviors. Using technologies that he has helped to develop, his work will focus on identifying the genes that control cellular growth, division and migration within tissue – key factors in cancer’s formation and spread.

“If you were to randomly remove one piece of your car,” Major explains, “your car may not start, your radio may not work or perhaps your door would not lock.  Because you know what piece you removed and how that piece functions, you have a pretty good idea of how that will affect your car.  Because we do not know how each of the 20,000 or so human genes function, we do not know the full complement of genes that are important for cancer initiation, cancer growth or cancer metastasis.  What we are proposing should allow us to ascribe a function to each gene in the human genome, thereby identifying sets of genes that control cancer and other human diseases.  We believe that these data will provide a foundation for developing new cancer treatments and diagnostics.”

If successful, the low-cost, ease and speed of the new approach could accelerate scientific discovery in countless labs.

Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, director of the National Institutes of Health, said, “NIH is pleased to be supporting early-stage investigators from across the country who are taking considered risks in a wide range of areas in order to accelerate research. We look forward to the results of their work."

The five-year grants are given to stimulate highly innovative research that has the potential for significant impact on a broad area of biomedical research. Major was honored at a September 30 meeting in Washington, DC, for his achievement.

Major joined the UNC faculty in 2009, after finishing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Associate. Major earned his PhD in oncologic sciences from the University of Utah/Huntsman Cancer Institute and a BS in microbiology from Michigan State University’s Lyman Briggs School of Science.

Goldberg Quoted in Oncology Times

CHAPEL HILL, NC - The article "Helping Prevent Suicide in Cancer Patients - Those Thinking of It Won't Tell Unless You Ask" written by Robert H. Carlson and published in the September 25, 2010 issue of Oncology Times quotes N.C. Cancer Hospital physician-in-chief and UNC Lineberger associate director of clinical research Richard Goldberg, MD.

The article discusses ways to prevent suicide in cancer patients including questions to ask, indicators to look for, and the need to create an action plan.

Oncology Times is an independent newspaper published twice a month that includes the latest clinical news and issues that affect those treating cancer patients.

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UNC Scientists Confirm Four Molecular Subtypes for Most Common Lung Cancer

CHAPEL HILL, NC - Squamous cell carcinoma is one of the most common types of lung cancer, but scientists haven’t been sure what triggers its development.  UNC researchers have taken the first step towards a better understanding of how the disease develops at the molecular and cellular level, for the first time definitively documenting at least four molecular subtypes of squamous cell cancer.  These subtypes provide clues as to the origin of the tumor, differences in patient outcomes, and potential differences in therapies that offer new paths for physicians seeking more targeted approaches to treating this form of cancer.

Neil Hayes, MD, MPH, MS, associate professor of medicine, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center member, and study senior author, explains, “These findings are really exciting for those of us who treat patients.  We have seen therapies for breast cancer advance since subtypes were defined and each time we are able to provide this analysis for a type of cancer, it opens the door toward more personalized treatments and potentially better patient outcomes.”

The UNC scientists have found evidence that tumors arise from different cells within the lung, suggesting a different biological origin among patients currently treated as a single group.  The investigators also showed that genes associated with the subtypes have previously been described suggesting that different therapies might be more effective according to the subtype.  Additionally, scientists provided data that these subtypes could be detected using analysis of tumor samples or blood.

These types were defined using meta-analysis techniques, from which investigators assembled nearly 400 patient samples to confirm statistically significant and independently confirmed tumor variants. The investigators then tested these molecular subtypes using UNC patient tumor specimens. The four subtypes - primitive, classical, secretory, and basal – are descriptors of their molecular behavior. The primitive subtype correlates with worse patient survival and recurrence rates, suggesting that more aggressive therapies may be more appropriate for these patients.

The study was published in the September 29 online issue of the journal Clinical Cancer Research Icon indicating that a link will open an external site., a publication of the American Association of Cancer ResearchIcon indicating that a link will open an external site..

Hayes is director of clinical bioinformatics for UNC Lineberger and director of the UNC Tumor Registry. Additionally, he is co-principal investigator of UNC Lineberger’s The Cancer Genome Atlas grant.

Other UNC authors include Matthew Wilkerson, PhD; Xiaoying Yin, MD; Katherine A. Hoadley, PhD; Yufeng Liu, PhD; Michele Hayward, RD; Christopher Cabanski, PhD; Kenneth Muldrew, MD, MPH, FCAP; C. Ryan Miller, MD, PhD; Scott Randell, PhD; Mark A. Socinski, MD; Alden Parsons, MD; William Funkhouser, MD; Carrie B. Lee, MD; Patrick Roberts, PharmD, PhD; Leigh Thorne, MD; Charles Perou, PhD. Additional authors are from the University of Utah Health Sciences Center in Salt Lake City, UT.

UNC Scientists Receive Grant to Develop Nanotechnology for Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

CHAPEL HILL, NC - A team of UNC scientists has received a five-year $2,308,800 grant from the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Nanotechnology Platform Partnerships to address the critical need for early diagnosis of and more effective treatments for pancreatic cancer.

Wenbin Lin, PhD, professor of chemistry and pharmacy, and Jen Jen Yeh, MD, assistant professor of surgery and pharmacology, are the principal investigators. Leaf Huang, PhD, Fred N. Eshelman Distinguished Professor and chair of molecular pharmaceutics in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, is the co-investigator. All are members of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Lin is a faculty member in the UNC College of Arts and Sciences Icon indicating that a link will open an external site..

Using targeted nano-particle technology, based on nano-materials developed in the Lin lab, the scientists will design nanoscale metal-organic frameworks –a new class of hybrid nano-materials- capable of carrying both imaging and therapeutic cargoes or multiple drugs to increase therapeutic effect. The efficacy of these nano-materials will be evaluated in pre-clinical work by Yeh. Huang will help to modify the pharmcokinetics of the nano-materials.

National Cancer Institute awards $13.6 million to UNC's Carolina Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence

CHAPEL HILL, NC - The National Cancer InstituteIcon indicating that a link will open an external site. has awarded a five-year, $13.6 million grant to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Carolina Center of Cancer Nanotechnology ExcellenceIcon indicating that a link will open an external site. (C-CCNE) based at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, for research to improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer through applying/using advances in nanotechnology. The grant will support the continued work of the center launched in 2005 as part of NCI’s Alliance for Nanotechnology in CancerIcon indicating that a link will open an external site.. The C-CCNE, one of eight original centers in the national program, is one of nine that are funded in the new phase.

Joseph DeSimone, PhD, who will co-lead the C-CCNE research team along with Joel Tepper, MD, said, “Our efforts in nanomedicine show tremendous promise for improving the ways we detect and treat lung, brain, and breast cancer. We have refined our ability to make nanoparticles with unprecedented control and precision, and continued work in this area will reveal better approaches to targeting cancer cells with potent therapies while leaving healthy cells intact.

DeSimone is Chancellor’s Eminent Professor of Chemistry in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences. Tepper is the Hector MacLean Distinguished Professor of Cancer Research and former chair of radiation oncology.

UNC Lineberger Director, Shelley Earp, MD, is enthusiastic, “The renewal of the award is a tribute to the world-class combination of the physical, biological, and medical science possible at UNC’s Cancer Center and the collaboration among the leaders and principal investigators including Otto Zhou, Leaf Huang, Russ Mumper and their colleagues.”

“The synthesis of physics, chemistry, cell biology, animal models and clinical science is extraordinary,” he added.

DeSimone explained, “Collaboration is fundamental to our success. Our multidisciplinary team of chemists, physicists, biologists, engineers, and clinicians drive our innovations in science. Our partners in industry are crucial to ensuring that discoveries in the lab translate efficiently and effectively to bedside for improved patient outcomes. We have a strong infrastructure of support at UNC-Chapel Hill and investment from the University Cancer Research Fund (UCRF). With new funding from NCI, we are well-positioned to move forward with the proposed work and maintain Carolina’s leadership status in nanomedicine.”

Tepper concurs that the new funding will allow UNC to make an impact on patient care. “Nanotechnology approaches present the opportunity to develop tools that will allow us to both diagnose patients with cancer earlier and to deliver therapy precisely to the tumor in a manner never possible with conventional approaches. The UNC CCNE grant will keep the research at UNC in the forefront of these efforts and produce improved outcomes for our patients.”

In addition to nanoparticles, carbon nanotube-based X-ray technology developed at UNC by Otto Zhou, PhD, David Godschalk Distinguished Professor of Physics and Materials Science in the UNC College of Arts and Sciences, and member, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, is a significant part of the proposed research effort and holds immense promise in the fight against cancer.

“Otto Zhou and colleagues have made exceptional strides in carbon nanotube-based X-ray technology, which shows vast potential for detecting breast cancer earlier than we ever have before and will be evaluated in clinical trials right here at Carolina.” DeSimone said. “We will also continue to investigate the potential for technology developed in the Zhou lab to revolutionize treatment for brain cancer patients.”

In total, this funding will help support a team of 52 faculty, postdoctoral trainees, students and staff working to find new solutions to help cancer patients in their fight against the deadly disease.

DeSimone is founder of the nano-biotechnology firm Liquidia Technologies, a collaborator in this grant effort.

Tepper is a member of the NCI Clinical and Translational Research Advisory Committee (CTAC) and the NCI Process to Accelerate Translational Science (PATS) and is Director of the UNC Specialized Program of Research Excellence in gastrointestinal cancers.

In addition to DeSimone, Tepper, and Zhou, Leaf Huang, PhD, Fred N. Eshelman Distinguished Professor and Chair, Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics, and Russ Mumper, PhD, John A. McNeill Distinguished Professor, and Director, Center for Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy are project leaders in the research effort.

Other grant recipient institutions are: California Institute of Technology in Pasadena; Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH; Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD; Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA; Northeastern University in Boston, MA; Northwestern University in Evanston, IL; Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA; and the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, TX.

Zhang's Research Highlighted in The News & Observer

CHAPEL HILL, NC - The article "The 'holy grail' of stem cells is pursued" written by Whitney Howell and published in the September 27, 2010 issue of The News & Observer features UNC Lineberger member Yi Zhang, PhD. The article focuses on Dr. Zhang's research on stem cells.

The News & Observer is a daily newspaper based in Raleigh that also covers Durham, Cary, and Chapel Hill.

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UNC Scientists to Study Pregnancy, Obesity and Breast Cancer Disparities

CHAPEL HILL, NC - UNC scientists have received a five-year $2.2 million grant to study how factors such as pregnancy and obesity may promote susceptibility to an aggressive subtype of breast cancer that is more prevalent in young, African American patients. The grant is funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Breast Cancer and Environment Research Program.

Melissa Troester, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, and Liza Makowski, PhD, assistant professor of nutrition in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, are the principal investigators. Both are members of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Data have shown that a full-term pregnancy reduces the risk for breast cancer overall, but recent studies have shown that pregnancy may actually increase the risk of an aggressive subtype of breast cancer called basal-like. UNC researchers have previously shown that basal-like breast cancer is more prevalent among premenopausal African American patients. Better understanding of the relation between pregnancy, obesity and basal-like cancer is needed to support prevention strategies.

In the lab, the team hopes to identify molecular pathways and biomarkers that are regulated by pregnancy and obesity and that also promote basal-like tumors. As part of the study, a community advisory board is being formed to share scientific findings and solicit input from breast cancer survivors, caregivers, nutritionists, dieticians and advocates.

Other UNC Lineberger collaborators are Keith Amos, MD, assistant professor of surgery, and Charles Perou, PhD, professor of genetics and pathology and laboratory medicine. Staff from the NIEHS Center of Environmental Health and Susceptibility and its Community Outreach Education Core program will facilitate community outreach.

UNC School of Public Health contact:
Ramona DuBose An icon indicating that a link will launch an email program. or (919) 966-7467

Sharpless Featured in Current Issue of endeavors

The article "How Old Are You, Really?" written by Mark Derewicz and published in the Fall 2010 issue of Endeavors magazine features UNC Lineberger member Ned Sharpless, MD. Dr. Sharpless is an associate professor of medicine and genetics and associate director for translational research at UNC Lineberger.

The article discusses Dr. Sharpless' research involving the protein  p16INK4a, a tumor suppressor that builds up in cells as we age.

endeavors magazine is a publication of the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development at UNC-Chapel Hill. The magazine focuses on the stories of faculty, staff, and students working in all fields at the university.

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Date: Sept 22, 2010

Study Describes First Purification of Cancer Gene, BRCA2

CHAPEL HILL, NC - Scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill were among co-authors of a study that described the first isolation and purification of the BRCA2 protein which is produced by a gene whose loss greatly increases the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers.

In a report of the findings published online by the journal Nature Structural & Molecular BiologyIcon indicating that a link will open an external site. on Aug. 22, 2010, Sarah Compton, PhD and Jack Griffith, PhD of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center joined study leader Stephen West of the London Research Institute and other co-authors. Their findings could lead to a better understanding of how the protein works and how BRCA2 sequence mutations cause cancer.

The protein has been notoriously difficult to isolate until now. As one of the largest proteins in a cell – eight to ten times larger than the average protein size – it can't be expressed in bacteria in order to be isolated like other proteins.

The accomplishment may also open a door to the development of new cancer therapies that could block the cancer-causing process. Knowledge of a protein and how it behaves could lead to the development of a search for chemical compounds, and eventually drugs that can stop mutant versions of the protein from wreaking havoc in cells.

Three laboratories independently accomplished the feat. Their three separate papers were published online Aug. 22, one by the journal Nature and two by the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.

According to a summaryIcon indicating that a link will open an external site. of these efforts in Nature News, the three studies explored the interaction of BRCA2 protein with other proteins, primarily one called RAD51. This protein repairs DNA by assembling around breaks in DNA strands, and forming filaments through which DNA components called nucleotides are pulled in to fix gaps. By studying the interaction between BRCA2 and RAD51, all three teams confirmed that BRCA2 helps RAD51 initiate filament growth.

Griffith is an internationally renowned DNA electron microscopist. The Kenan Distinguished professor’s electron microscopy (EM) work includes a number of breakthroughs, beginning in his graduate school years. For his PhD work at Cal Tech, Griffith developed the EM technology needed to directly visualize bare DNA and DNA-protein complexes. His methods involved carefully controlled rotary shadow casting with tungsten and mounting the DNA on very thin carbon films.

Using the methods he developed, Griffith, with Drs. Jack Kornberg and Joel A. Huberman, published a paper that carried the first EM image of DNA bound to a known protein. It also showed that electron microscopy had the potential to provide quantitative information about macromolecular assemblies involving DNA.

And in 2002, Griffith and colleagues used quantitative techniques to map the DNA involved in Fragile X syndrome. In people with Fragile X, a particular DNA sequence is repeated too often — as many as two thousand times, compared to only seventeen to thirty times in normal DNA. But it wasn’t known how that repetition, called expansion, contributed to Fragile X syndrome. “We showed that in Fragile X, that expansion creates a segment of the chromosome that is very unorganized and unprotected relative to the rest of the chromosome,” Griffith told EndeavorsIcon indicating that a link will open an external site., UNC’s research magazine. The work provides a clue to the molecular causes of the disorder.

UNC Media contact:
Les Lang An icon indicating that a link will launch an email program. or (919) 966-9366

Nielsen Comments on Prostate Cancer Screening in The U.S. News & World Report

CHAPEL HILL, NC - The article "Skip the PSA Test for Prostate Cancer?" written by Deborah Kotz and published in The U.S. News & World Report on September 15, 2010 quotes UNC Lineberger member Matthew Nielsen, MD.

The article discusses recent studies that focus on PSA (prostate specific antigen) tests and whether or not these tests are beneficial.

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National Cancer Institute Awards Two Cancer Drug Discovery Contracts to UNC

CHAPEL HILL, NC - As part of a national effort to accelerate the identification and testing of new anti-cancer drugs, SAIC-Frederick, Inc., a prime contractor to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded two contracts totaling $2.4 million to two teams of UNC scientists to initiate the discovery of drugs for the treatment of childhood leukemia and brain tumors.

These contracts, called Task Orders, were awarded in support of the NCI’s Chemical Biology Consortium (CBC) program, and provide funding to one-year and 18-month milestones respectively. Further funding may be awarded depending upon progress.

Stephen Frye, PhD, professor of medicinal chemistry and director of the UNC Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, is principal investigator. Frye is also a member of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. The two centers are collaborating on both projects.

Frye said, “These studies build on research pioneered at UNC Lineberger and already underway in the Integrative Chemical Biology Center, initially with support from the University Cancer Research Fund. Childhood cancers and brain tumors are challenging to treat, and we hope that our work can lead to improved therapies.”

In the childhood cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a protein called Mer is abnormally expressed, making the cancer resistant to current therapies. Mer was initially discovered at UNC in the lab of Shelley Earp, MD, UNC Lineberger’s director. UNC scientists will develop selective small molecules inhibitors of Mer kinase as drug candidates to treat pediatric ALL. They will also use the molecules as probes to further explore the mechanism whereby Mer activation sustains the survival of lymphoid and other tumors that express Mer, potentially opening doors to new treatments for other cancers. The team will collaborate with Doug Graham, MD, a pediatric oncologist at the University of Colorado who was a student of Earp’s and co-discoverer of Mer kinase.

A second project also targets a specific gene involved in gliomas, the most common type of brain cancer. Glioblastoma multiforme-GBM- is the most aggressive tumor subtype where less than ten percent of patients survive beyond one year. This research will target the protein product of a gene called IDH1 that is frequently mutated in gliomas.  The role of IDH1 in this cancer has been defined through the work of Yue Xiong, PhD, Kenan Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics and a UNC Lineberger member.  The mutation offers a highly specific target for the discovery and development of anti-GBM drugs.

“We were pleased that UNC was selected as one of NCI’s centers when the program was initiated last year and even more pleased that we have received two awards in this highly-competitive process,” said Robert Blouin, PharmD, dean of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy.

Other UNC faculty collaborating on the project include: Gary Johnson, PhD, professor and chair of pharmacology; Bill Janzen, BS, research professor of the practice in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy; Dmitri Kireev, research professor in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy; and Xiadong Wang, PhD, research assistant professor in the Eshelman School of Pharmacy. Janzen, Kireev and Wang are members of the UNC Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery.

This project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal Funds from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, under Contract No. HHSN261200800001E. The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the view or policies o the Department of Health and Human Services, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy contact:
David Etchison An icon indicating that a link will launch an email program. or (919) 966-7744

Pediatric Oncology Clinical Trials Focus of NBC-17 Interview

CHAPEL HILL, NC - Seven-year-old Esten Maxwell, a pediatric oncology patient at UNC Lineberger, and his dad, Tom, along with Stuart Gold, MD, chief of pediatric oncology at UNC Lineberger and Esten's physician, are featured in a video interview broadcast by NBC-17 on September 10, 2010.

Tom talks about the role clinical trials played in Esten's treatment and Dr. Gold gives a breakdown of pediatric oncology clinical trials.

Support for Single Fathers Now Available

Part of UNC Comprehensive Cancer Support Program

CHAPEL HILL, NC - Men who have become single fathers as a result of cancer now have a new resource in the Triangle.

UNC's Comprehensive Cancer Support Program (CCSP) is starting a program tailored to their needs.

"We have been seeing more men who have lost their partners to cancer and who are now faced with raising children and all of the challenges that the process entails," said Justin Yopp, PhD, the program’s coordinator.

"We put together a steering committee of single fathers who helped put a program together to address the issues that they are facing and make the most of their valuable time," he added.

Karl Owen of Chapel Hill is raising his 12 year old daughter and 10 year old son as a single father after losing his wife, Susan Buchanan, to cancer in March.  He worked with Dr. Yopp and the CCSP to help set the agenda for the group.

"I think that this group will be helpful to other fathers who, like me, have to take on roles that we haven’t traditionally had to play with our children, who have concerns about how our kids are doing and who can benefit from the input of others who are going through a common experience," he said.

The once-a-month educational series and support program will begin on October 18, 2010 and will be held the 3rd Monday of each month from 6:00-7:30 p.m. at Carolina Pointe II, 3rd Floor.  Carolina Pointe II is located at 6011 Farrington Road in Chapel Hill, at the intersection of I-40 and Highway 54.  The group will be facilitated by Dr. Yopp and Donald Rosenstein, MD, CCSP’s director.

The series is free and open to any single father due to cancer, but registration is required.  Fathers are welcomed to bring their children, who will be supervised in a separate room and provided pizza, drinks and activities.

For more information or to register, call Justin Yopp at (919) 445-5415.

Multivitamin Use Doesn’t Impact Colon Cancer Outcomes

CHAPEL HILL, NC - As many as 30 percent of Americans take multivitamins in the belief that they will help prevent and treat chronic diseases such as cancer.  Among cancer survivors, between 26 and 77 percent report using multivitamins.

Given these significant numbers, a group of researchers, including UNC’s Richard Goldberg, MD, decided to test whether multivitamin use had an impact on cancer outcomes.  In a study of patients with stage III colon cancer, they found that using multivitamins neither helped or hurt patient outcomes.

The team used two questionnaires to ask about multivitamin use during and after chemotherapy.  Approximately half of the patients used multivitamins during chemotherapy and more than half took multivitamins after chemotherapy. There was no statistically significant difference in survival or recurrence between the group that used multivitamins and the group that did not.

Goldberg, who is Physician-in-chief of the N.C. Cancer Hospital and Associate Director for Clinical Research at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, said that, while the study didn’t provide the evidence researchers initially sought, it did point out some new avenues for investigation.

“There was some evidence among patients receiving chemotherapy that patients aged 60 and younger and those who were obese did gain some survival benefit, even when controlling for other factors,” he noted.

“There is evidence that other vitamins, taken in larger doses than generally found in multivitamins, may be beneficial and more research is needed,” he added.

The study was reported online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and was funded in part by the National Cancer Institute and by an American Society of Clinical Oncology Young Investigator Award.

In addition to Goldberg, the other authors are Kimmie Ng, MD, MPH (first author), Charles Fuchs, MD (senior author), Jeffrey A. Meyerhardt, MD, MPH, Jennifer Chan, MD, and Robert J. Mayer, MD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; Donna Niedzwiecki, PhD, and Donna R. Hollis, BS, Duke University; Leonard Saltz, MD, Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center; Al B. Benson, III, MD, Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Chicago; Paul L. Schaefer, MD, Toledo Community Hospital Oncology Program, Toledo, OH; Renaud Whittom, MD, Hopital du Sacre-Coeur de Montreal; and Alexander Hantel, MD, Edward Cancer Center, Naperville, IL.

Events Planned in September for Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month

CHAPEL HILL, NC - From "Wear Teal Day" to artwork displays, a variety of events will take place throughout September to raise awareness about Gynecologic Cancers.

On Friday, September 3, 2010, everyone on campus was encouraged to wear teal. See photosIcon indicating that a link will open an external site..

Coming up this week: art work will be on display in the lobbies of the N. C. Cancer Hospital and the N.C. Women's Hospital and on September 8 at 6:30 p.m. Wesley Fowler, MD, Leonard Palumbo Distinguished Professor in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology, will be at the UNC Wellness center to talk about gynecologic cancers including symptoms, risk factors, and more.

To see all upcoming events planned during September to raise awareness about Gynecologic Cancer, visit the UNC GYN website Icon indicating that a link will open an external site..

Bear, Liu Among Hettleman Prize Winners

CHAPEL HILL, NC - Four promising faculty members in diverse fields have been awarded the Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prizes for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement by Young Faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

They are James Bear, PhD, associate professor of cell and developmental biology in the School of Medicine; Yufeng Liu, PhD, associate professor of statistics and operations research, Garyk Papoian, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry, and Krista Perreira, PhD, associate professor of public policy, all in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The Hettleman Prize, which carries a $5,000 stipend, recognizes the achievements of outstanding junior tenure-track faculty or recently tenured faculty. Phillip Hettleman, who was born in 1899 and grew up in Goldsboro, established the award in 1986. He earned a scholarship to UNC, went to New York and in 1938 founded Hettleman & Co., a Wall Street investment firm

When Bear joined the faculty in 2003, he established a research program focused on the molecular basis of cell motility. His work, which department chair Vytas Bankaitis called “simply meteoric,” has been focused on a family of motility proteins, the Coronins.

In 10 papers, including two in the prestigious journal Cell, Bear demonstrated that Coronins are instrumental in a fundamental process of controlling the actin cytoskeleton, the cell’s internal framework. This groundbreaking research has changed the direction of the field, Bankaitis said.

Bear, a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, recently received a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist Award supporting his research into proteins associated with cell motility and melanoma.

The scientist’s work has contributed significantly to the translational research of the Lineberger Center’s melanoma and brain tumor teams, said Shelley Earp, center director and Lineberger Professor of Cancer Research.

“He is an exemplar of a new breed of cell biologists who are devising new cellular and molecular biological methods to study fundamental processes,” Earp said. “In addition to providing stunning images, these novel techniques are often performed in live cells and allow dynamic measurements to be made.”

With research interests in high-dimensional data analysis, bioinformatics, cancer research and developing statistical methodologies for general machine learning problems, Liu holds a joint appointment with the Center for Genome Sciences. He is also a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

His position was created to help foster interdisciplinary collaboration between the mathematical sciences and genome sciences, said faculty nominators J.S. Marron and Ed Carlstein. Carlstein is chair of statistics and operation research.

“His work is a sterling example of how serious biological challenges can motivate the development of novel statistical methodologies, which in turn lead to changes in how bioinformaticians understand complex data sets, while simultaneously generating advances in fundamental statistical theory,” they said.

The nominators described Liu’s groundbreaking research as truly synergistic. He has developed and analyzed cutting-edge statistical and computational methods for prediction, classification and clustering, they said, and he has brought current, promising tools and concepts of statistics and computation into the “practical repertoire” of genome sciences.

Liu has been a faculty member since 2004 and received early tenure and promotion last year. He recently earned a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award and serves as associate editor of the Journal of the American Statistical Association.

Since he came to Carolina in 2004, Papoian has been on what chemistry chair Matthew Redinbo described as “the fast and certain track to international recognition.”

With research interests in theoretical chemistry, biophysics and signal transduction, Papoian has developed a biochemical theory research program that uses advanced computational methods to study biological processes at multiple scales.

His work in developing detailed computational models of the way eukaryotic cells move around and sense their environment helps shed light on key processes in human biology and disease such as embryonic development, wound repair and cancer metastasis.

Papoian has already garnered some of the most prestigious awards in the country, including the Beckman Young Investigator Award, Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, NSF Career Award and the American Chemical Society’s Hewlett-Packard Outstanding Junior Faculty Award.

Recently he was asked to write an opinion paper for The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science on a paper published by an established scientist. “To be asked at this early stage in his career is a clear indication of Garyk’s trajectory,” Redinbo said.

Effective this month, Papoian has accepted a position at the University of Maryland with a joint appointment in chemistry and Institute for Physical Science and Technology.

Perreira, a health economist who is considered a pioneering researcher on the demography of immigrant youth and families, has been a public policy faculty member and fellow of the Carolina Population Center since 2001.

Her research focuses on disparities in health, education and economic well-being and the interrelationships among family, health and social policy, specifically the health and educational consequences of migration.

Because of the interdisciplinary nature of her research and its emphasis on original data collection, Perreira’s contributions have extended beyond public policy to demography, education, psychology, public health and sociology as well, said Pete Andrews, professor and department chair.

“Dr. Perreira’s research record places her as a groundbreaking scholar on the Hispanic immigrant population as well as on cross-cultural research methods, as a rising star in her field and well beyond the normal research expectations for someone at this stage of her career,” he said.

Among her most recent national recognitions, Perreira received an award from the American Sociological Association for her research on mental health, and she was selected as a visiting fellow of the prestigious Russell Sage Foundation in New York City.

News Services Contact:
Mike McFarland An icon indicating that a link will launch an email program. or (919) 962-8593

Bernard Named a WCHL Hometown Hero

CHAPEL HILL, NC - Each weekday, WCHL highlights a Hometown Hero, a person who "makes our community an even better place to live." Hometown Heroes "do extraordinary things" and "go over and above the call of duty."

Steve Bernard, MD, professor of medicine in the division of hematology/oncology and a UNC Lineberger member, is today's Hometown Hero. He is being honored for his dedication to treating patients with cancer. A program led by Dr. Bernard - the Supportive Care Consult Service -, brings treatments to patients, limiting the amount of time they have to spend traveling to and from therapy sessions. Like the program he leads, Dr. Bernard aims to reduce the stress of his patients, focusing on not only their overall healing but also on their day-to-day comfort. Read more about Dr. Bernard.

Listen to the Hometown Hero interview with Dr. BernardIcon indicating that a link will open an external site.. (Look for the August 30, 2010 segment and click "Listen.")

UNC Lineberger Hosts North Carolina Lung Cancer Partnership Summit

UNC Lineberger hosted the North Carolina Lung Cancer Partnership Advocacy Summit in the N.C. Cancer Hospital on Saturday, August 28.  The agenda included workshops in developing key messages, tips for working with the media, improving lung cancer education and raising awareness and funds for lung cancer.

Highlighting the event attended by more than 60 people was a talk by Dr. Joan Schiller, president of the Board of Directors for the National Lung Cancer Partnership.

Following the workshops, participants were given a tour of the new hospital by UNC Multidisciplinary Thoracic Oncology Program nurse navigator Tammy Allred, RN, OCN.

The North Carolina Lung Cancer Partnership is committed to decreasing deaths due to lung cancer and helping patients live longer and better through research, awareness and advocacy. Read more about the North Carolina Lung Cancer Partnership.