Julie Sutcliffe Ph.D.






Sutcliffe Team Realizes Long Awaited Goal with eIND approval from FDA
Julie Sutcliffe, along with members of her team, Sven Hausner, Ryan Davis and others, have obtained approval from the FDA to use their peptide in human studies in order to benefit cancer patients. The Sutcliffe laboratory focuses on developing rapid radiolabeling and screening approaches to expedite the translation of radiolabeled compounds for imaging from the bench to the bedside. Their recent efforts in the development of peptide-based molecular imaging agents has led to the identification of a bi- PEGylated peptide that has shown good affinity and selectivity towards the integrin alpha(v)beta(6) with promising pharmacokinetics and tumor uptake in animal models. This compound is the foundation for their first-in-human study.

This novel molecular imaging agent targets the integrin αvβ6, which is an epithelial-specific cell surface receptor that is undetectable in healthy adult epithelium but is significantly upregulated in a wide range of epithelial derived cancers. This receptor is often localized to the invasive front and infiltrating edges of tumors and plays a key role in invasion and metastasis and its expression is often associated with poor prognosis. With the unique expression of αvβ6 being a predictor of decreased progression free survival, response rate and overall survival, it is believed that there is an opportunity to utilize αvβ6 for both diagnostic and therapeutic measures vital to the future management of a very wide range of invasive diseases.

Sutcliffe proposes a first-in-human study that will involve PET/CT imaging in a total of 30 human subjects. She and her research team will coordinate this study along with the nuclear medicine team and referring oncologists of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center Phase I Malignancies Innovation Group to determine efficacy, biodistribution of compound in tissues of patients and evaluate whether the compound accumulation observed by PET correlates with the expression of αvβ6 in excised cancer tissue for further clinical development.


Theresa Keegan

Theresa Keegan, PhD has been awarded the Tony Phillips Research Award from the Children’s Miracle Network.  She has been approved for two years of funding with the aim to improve the health and welfare of children with her research into “Complications, Early Death and Survival Among Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults with Acute Leukemia in California.”


Edward Kim, M.D., Ph.D. has been selected to receive a competitive CTSC Highly Innovative Award entitled:  “Sensitization of Pancreatic Cancer Organoids to Arginine Deprivation with miR-1291.”  This would test the effectiveness of miR-1291 in lowering argininosuccinate synthetase levels in pancreatic cancer cells and evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of combining miR-1291 and arginine deiminase in human pancreatic cancer patient-derived organoids. This project represents one approach to the goal of developing and advancing novel therapies to satisfy the urgent need for new therapeutic options for pancreatic cancer patients. This project capitalizes on Dr. Kim's existing program to establish a living and renewable biorepository of patient derived pancreatic cancer models called organoids grown directly from patients' tumors.  The organoid model is a cost-effective and efficient system for recapitulating patient heterogeneity that can be used to rapidly test new therapies.

Dr. Lara serving as Interim Director of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

Primo “Lucky” Lara, a medical oncologist with UC Davis Division of Hematology and Oncology, will serve as interim director of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, as a national search is performed for a new director to replace Dr. Ralph de Vere White who recently retired after serving for 20 years. Dr. Lara has been on the faculty at University of California Davis since 1999 and is currently the associate director for translational research. His research fields include therapeutics in lung, prostate and bladder cancer. He also is principal investigator of several national clinical trials. “While it’s impossible to match Ralph’s energy and exuberance our intent is to build on his vision and the momentum he’s created here at the cancer center,” Lara said, in a news release.

Associate Director for Translational Research Primo “Lucky” Lara has been elected to co-chair the National Cancer Institute (NCI)’s 2016 Investigational Drug Steering Committee (IDSC), representing the Phase 2 clinical trials program. Beginning May 12, Lara will collaborate with the IDSC Phase 1 Program co-Chair Michael Carducci to coordinate activities of the IDSC, overseeing the design and prioritization of early phase drug development trials sponsored by the NCI. The IDSC is ultimately tasked to evaluate clinical trials proposed through the NCI’s Early Therapeutics Clinical Trials Network (ET-CTN). Lara is also Phase 2 Principal Investigator of the NCI-funded California Cancer Consortium which is comprised of clinical trialist from UC Davis, City of Hope, University of Southern California, and Stanford University.  To learn more about the program, please visit:


UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center earns new quality certification

The UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Division of Hematology/Oncology has been recognized by the Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI) Certification Program for meeting the nation’s highest quality standards for cancer care. The division is the only Northern California QOPI–certified practice also affiliated with an NCI designated cancer center.

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