CHAMPION FOR A CURE VIRGINIA HINSHAW PROMOTES CANCER RESEARCH
THROUGHOUT THE UNIVERSITY:
As Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor of UC Davis,
Virginia Hinshaw's duties extend much farther than the long view from the small balcony outside her office,
high in Mrak Hall. Hinshaw's responsibilities encompass oversight of the university and medical center and responsibility
for the financial and academic direction of programs on both campuses.
But when you visit Hinshaw's office, it's the smaller, more personal details that illustrate who she is.
For starters, a Segway Human Transporter, a high-tech, battery-powered device favored by dot-commers, leans
against one wall. "I use it a lot to get around campus," Hinshaw says, admitting a fondness for technology.
There's also a dream-catcher that Hinshaw made herself; some of her ancestors were Cherokee.
Like most people, Hinshaw, born in Oak Ridge, Tenn., keeps photos of her extended family near her desk.
But then there are the images of pigs. "I worked on influenza in pigs," the research biologist explains.
Her particular focus was on the molecular mechanisms by which influenza viruses kill cells. And nearby, there's
a poster of Rosie the Riveter, with the slogan "We Can Do It."
"Everyone has to dream, to know that they can do it," Hinshaw says.
Dreams like stopping cancer, or preventing it from starting in the first place.
From the start of her tenure at UC Davis, the new
provost has been a champion of the cancer program.
Hinshaw earned her bachelor's degree in laboratory technology and her master's and doctorate, both in microbiology,
all from Auburn University in Auburn, Ala. She joined UC
Davis two years ago from the University of Wisconsin-adison, where she served as vice chancellor for research
and dean of the graduate school.
With her support, cancer research on the Davis campus, at the medical center in Sacramento and at Lawrence
Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore is advancing on multiple fronts. In less than three years, the overall
cancer research budget increased from $43.5 million to more than $61.5 million, a 41-percent increase. And the
efforts of more than 200 scientists in fields ranging from veterinary mediine to agriculture to light physics
have been harnessed into a cooperative program aimed at bringing new ideas to the clinic rapidly.
This ability to focus multiple disciplines on cancer is something that sets UC
Davis apart, Hinshaw says. "It's research that reaches from the bench to bedside. It's not just techniques
or technology it's knowledge. And we want to get that knowledge out quickly."
Toward that end, the cancer center recently named longtime faculty member Kathryn Radke, an associate professor
of animal science, as director of education. Radke's mission is to make oncology an integral part of all areas
of education within the university, from undergraduate through postdoctoral training.
"Her job will be to focus on preparing the next generation of cancer researchers," Hinshaw says.
In the same vein, the university last summer awarded the UC
Davis Cancer Center status as an Organized Research Unit, an academic agency charged with administering
collaborative, multidisciplinary research programs that complement the university's academic goals. Only 13
such units have been created campuswide, and only one other is housed in the School
of Medicine. With ORU status came a $67,000 allocation from Hinshaw's office for the current academic year,
funds to help the cancer center provide scientific core services, forums for teaching, information exchange
and collegial interactions, and seed money for research projects, among other contributions to the academic
program on both campuses.
The ORU award followed the big news of the summer the cancer center's designation by the National Cancer
Institute. As anticipated, NCI designation the result of a 12-year, $70 million investment by the health
system and university has made the cancer center eligible to compete for major new grants, many open
only to NCI-designated centers.
Such honors, says Hinshaw, have importance beyond the borders of either campus. "
The UC Davis Cancer Center has earned a
seat at the table, and is in a position to help lead discussions over the direction of cancer research nationally,"
"Our cancer center has blossomed into a wonderful resource the growth over the last ten years has
been amazingly impressive.
"Looking toward the future of the cancer center, I see it continuing to develop as a nationally and internationally
renowned center, developing new treatments, new advances, and providing great patient care," Hinshaw says.
"It's an integral part of the medical center, the university, our region and world. Cancer is a disease
that leaves few of us untouched, whether it's ourselves, our loved ones, or our neighbors.
" Hinshaw herself was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago.
"I go to the Race for the Cure every year, and the survivors get pink shirts," she says. "I
love it when none of the young women there have pink shirts. I'd like to get to the point where there are no
new pink shirts. I believe research can make that outcome possible for our children and grandchildren."