The magazine of UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

Spring/Summer 2013

Director’s Message

Dear Reader,
UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center had a lot to celebrate in 2012: first, our designation by the National Cancer Institute as the nation’s 41st comprehensive cancer center, and then our new building expansion opening. These are important milestones in our 21-year history.

Today is a new day, and with it comes renewed determination to tackle cancer on every front. That means pouring energy into basic and translational research that result in better treatment options. It means collaborating on technologies to improve ways to find and target treatments. And it means making sure that our patients have the resources they need to navigate through the challenges presented by a cancer diagnosis.

This issue of Synthesis sheds light on some of these innovations. Our robust biomedical engineering work takes center stage in a story describing the synergistic work of Julie Sutcliffe and Ramsey Badawi, who are working to improve cancer detection technologies. Another story highlights Jian-Jian Li’s breast cancer stem cell research on a subset of breast cancer tumors — HER2-negative — paradoxically found to respond to drugs that target HER2-positive tumors.

The cancer center’s basic science work is essential in the global fight against cancer, and Hsing-Jien Kung has led those efforts since 1996. Our story about Kung’s new role running Taiwan’s National Health Research Institutes highlights his achievements as a scientist and mentor.

Taking discoveries from the laboratory to the clinic is the cancer center’s mission, and Lucky Lara’s collaboration with Marta Van Loan at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Western Human Nutrition Research Center to find prostate cancer biomarkers will help personalize treatment for advanced disease.

Personalized treatment already has benefited lung cancer patient Elizabeth Lacasia, whose story describes how genetic analysis and clinical trials of new, targeted lung cancer treatments have given her hope and inspiration.

We hope you enjoy this issue of Synthesis.

Ralph de Vere White
Director, UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center
Associate Dean for Cancer Programs
Distinguished Professor, Department of Urology