UC Davis researchers receive seed grants
cancer researchers at UC Davis have received Institutional Research
Grants from the American Cancer Society this year.
grant program is designed to encourage younger faculty to study
the causes and cures of cancer and to develop new projects that
will become likely candidates for national funding.
awards, totaling $84,500, were presented at a reception in June.
Bold, an assistant professor of surgery, received an award to study
genes that regulate cell death in pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic
cancer has one of the lowest survival rates of any cancer - fewer
than five percent of patients live five years past diagnosis. Radiation
and chemotherapy are only marginally effective against it. Bold
wants to study transcription errors in the tumor suppressor genes
bcl-2 and bak, which may be responsible for allowing pancreatic
cancer cells to escape programmed cell death (apoptosis).
Shen, an assistant professor in hematology/oncology, got support
for a project using a high-tech imaging system to track radiation
as it travels through the body after being administered in a monoclonal
antibody, a molecule engineered to attach to cancer cells. Shen
will use single photon emission computer tomography (SPECT) scanning
to monitor the emission of radionuclides used to treat advanced
breast, prostate, and ovarian cancers and lymphoma.
Shiozaki, an assistant professor of microbiology, received funding
to study a stress-signaling pathway of a kinase that determines
how cells respond to environmental changes. By studying the pathway
in yeast, researchers hope to learn more about how cancer cells
respond or don't respond to radiation and chemotherapy.
Voss, an assistant professor of biological chemistry, received funding
to study how an enzyme called the sodium-proton exchanger is activated
or inactivated. Brain cancer cells called astrocytomas rely on over-expression
of the sodium proton exchanger to thrive in an oxygen-deprived environment.
Without a func- tional sodium-proton exchanger, the tumor cells
acidify and die. Working with Peter Cala, Voss hopes to shed more
light on how inhibiting this process might be used to develop new
drugs to treat brain cancer.
Wong-Yim, an assistant research pharmacologist/toxicologist, received
an award to study how a family of man-made chem- icals called polychlorinated
biphenyls (PCBs) may promote non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
recent epidemiological study found a connection between non-Hodgkin's
lymphoma and people who have both high serum levels of PCBs and
exposure to the Epstein-Barr virus. Wong-Kim will study the underlying
mechanism by which PCBs may stimulate T cells to become cancerous.
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