June 10, 2020:

In this month’s Across the Consortium, the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium (Big Ten CRC) highlights the advances our members continue to make in the fight against cancer, despite the challenges they face during the current pandemic.

University of Illinois Cancer Center

The small, handheld device Alexandria Young is helping create may look unusual and rudimentary to some, but she believes it has the ability to save the lives of women suffering from high grade serous ovarian cancer, the most lethal form of gynecologic cancer.
Read more.

Cancer Center at Illinois

Timothy M. Fan, professor of veterinary oncology, has been appointed as program leader of the Cancer Center at Illinois (CCIL) research program in Cancer Discovery Platforms Across the Engineering-Biology Continuum. Fan will co-lead this research program with Brendan Harley, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering.
Read more.

Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center

Putting together research for publication can be a challenging and time-consuming process, heightened even further because of the current COVID-19 situation. Despite those obstacles, Jie Zhang, PhD, Jun Cheng, PhD, and Kun Huang, PhD, had their research published in Nature Communications on April 14, which is an even more significant feat considering one of their leading authors was quarantined in Wuhan, China, for the last two months of their work.
Read more.

University of Iowa Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center

As an elementary school student, Michelle Tamplin first became aware of radiation and its effects on human health by reading the biography of Marie Curie, the first two-time Nobel Prize winner who discovered radioactivity. Tamplin, a PhD candidate in the Free Radical and Radiation Biology Program at the University of Iowa, is working on a dissertation that sheds light on the harmful effects of radiation on small blood vessels and how these damaged vessels can lead to vision loss in ocular cancer patients.
Read more.

University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center

The University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenbaum Comprehensive Cancer Center (UMGCCC) offers a highly specialized and highly personalized form of immunotherapy — CAR T-Cells to treat non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It is one of a limited number of cancer centers across the United States to offer customized therapies called Yescarta and Kymriah, approved by the FDA to treat certain types of large B-cell lymphoma.
Read more.

University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center

Two University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center members are among four U-M professors recently elected to the National Academy of Sciences — one of the highest distinctions for a scientist or engineer in the United States. The academy announced Monday the election of 120 members and 26 international members in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.
Read more.

Michigan State University Breslin Cancer Center

Felicia Wu, John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, and David Hennessy, Elton R. Smith Chair in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, were recently awarded a $478,000 USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture, or NIFA, grant for their project “Aflatoxin Reduced By Bt Corn? Examining Crop Insurance Claims for Real World Impacts of Technologies for Food Safety.”
Read more.

Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota

Peter Gordon, MD, PhD, an assistant professor in the medical school’s Department of Pediatrics and a practicing pediatric hematologist/oncologist with M Health Fairview, along with David Odde, PhD, professor with the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the College of Science and Engineering, were awarded the five-year, $350,000 R37 grant by the NCI for their study “Overcoming Leukemia Chemoresistance in the Central Nervous System.”
Read more.

Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center (University of Nebraska)

Researchers at UNMC have identified a key cell signaling pathway that drives the devastating muscle loss, or cachexia, suffered by many cancer patients. The study, published May 22 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, suggests that targeting this pathway with a drug already in phase 2 clinical trials for diabetes could prevent this syndrome.
Read more.

Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University

Cancer doesn’t just hijack the body’s cells — in the case of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, it physically alters the architecture of the genome, bringing together different genetic “neighborhoods” to fuel the replication and spread of cancerous cells, according to a Northwestern Medicine study published in Nature Genetics.
Read more.

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute

David E. Cohn, MD, MBA, has been elected the 52nd president of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO), a professional organization dedicated to advancing women’s cancer care by encouraging research, providing education, raising standards of practice, advocating for patients and members, and collaborating with other domestic and international organizations.
Read more.

Penn State Cancer Institute

Among prostate cancer cases, highly aggressive cases of the disease at the time of diagnosis increased significantly in Pennsylvania between 2004 and 2014, according to Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Cancer Institute researchers. The increase affected both white and black men, with black men having more highly aggressive prostate cancer at diagnosis. This rise could be because of less early screening, resulting in more advanced stages of disease at diagnosis.
Read more.

Purdue University Center for Cancer Research

In 2018, approximately 324,000 men died from cancer in the United States. The combination of lung cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer equated to half of those deaths. Large percentages of each of these cancers can be prevented or treated if caught early. Now, Purdue University scientists have created a new therapy option that may help halt tumor growth in certain cancers such as prostate, which is among the most common types of cancer in men.
Read more.

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

According to the National Cancer Institute, some 100,350 new cases of melanoma are expected in the U.S. this year with 6,850 deaths. Half of all melanoma cases have what is known as a BRAF mutation, and only about half of those treated with a BRAF-inhibitor (targeted therapy) respond to treatment. As part of the SWOG Cancer Research Network and ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group, investigators collaborated on a randomized phase 2 clinical trial examining the targeted therapy drugs dabrafenib and tremetinib in both continuous and intermittent treatment of patients with BRAF-mutated melanoma and found continuous dosing yields superior progression-free survival.
Read more.

University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center

Heidi Dvinge, PhD, assistant professor of Biomolecular Chemistry and a member of the Carbone Cancer Center, passed away on September 20, 2019. With great sorrow over the loss of a brilliant young scientist, colleague, mentor and friend, we honor her memory and her scholarly work. Dvinge had been a member of the School of Medicine and Public Health faculty for just over two years. Her research program was dedicated to understanding how misregulation of RNA processing contributes to disease, and how changes that occur in RNA splicing processes in cancer cells might be exploited to allow new therapeutic approaches.
Read more.

Information for this story was compiled from Big Ten CRC member websites, news releases, and social media.

About the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium: The Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium was created in 2013 to transform the conduct of cancer research through collaborative, hypothesis-driven, highly translational oncology trials that leverage the scientific and clinical expertise of Big Ten universities. The goal of the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium is to create a unique team-research culture to drive science rapidly from ideas to new approaches to cancer treatment. Within this innovative environment, today’s research leaders collaborate with and mentor the research leaders of tomorrow with the unified goal of improving the lives of all patients with cancer.

About the Big Ten Conference: The Big Ten Conference is an association of world-class universities whose member institutions share a common mission of research, graduate, professional and undergraduate teaching and public service. Founded in 1896, the Big Ten has sustained a comprehensive set of shared practices and policies that enforce the priority of academics in the lives of students competing in intercollegiate athletics and emphasize the values of integrity, fairness and competitiveness. The broad-based programs of the 14 Big Ten institutions will provide over $200 million in direct financial support to more than 9,800 students for more than 11,000 participation opportunities on 350 teams in 42 different sports. The Big Ten sponsors 28 official conference sports, 14 for men and 14 for women, including the addition of men’s ice hockey and men’s and women’s lacrosse since 2013. For more information, visit www.bigten.org.