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SYNTHESIS- Logo
A publication  of the UC Davis Cancer Center
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Current Issue: Fall/Winter 2003
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  DEPARTMENTS
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CHAMPION FOR A CURE VIRGINIA HINSHAW PROMOTES CANCER RESEARCH THROUGHOUT THE UNIVERSITY:

Provost Hinshaw is making cancer research a priority campus-wide

 "" PHOTO -- Virginia Hinshaw
 
Virginia Hinshaw
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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."

PHOTO -- Native American Dreamcatcher  ""

"Everyone needs a dream like stopping cancer or preventing it in the first place."

— Virginia Hinshaw
 
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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," she says.

"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."

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  Potential applications are dazzling: from light-based tools that can detect and treat cancer to futuristic microscopes that can see inside living cells.  
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UC DAVIS CANCER CENTER
4501 X Street
Sacramento, CA 95817

cancer.center@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu

© 2003 UC Regents. All rights reserved.

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