CAncer REsearch
4th Quarter, 2013
 In this issue 

  Clinical Trial Spotlight
  Contact Us
  Core Highlight
  Did You Know?
  Director's Corner
  Don't Forget
  DOT Highlight
  Feature Story
  Funding Opportunities
  Help Us Help You
  In the News
  Latest Grant Awards
  Member Spotlight
  New Faces
  Program Highlight
  Recent Publications
  Social Networking Tools
  You are Invited...

Research Programs
Our research efforts are organized in four research programs, which serve to foster interactions and collaborations within specific themes. Cancer center members are usually affiliated with one program but work with collaborators from different programs in multidisciplinary groups.

The Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center's four research programs are:

Cancer Prevention & Prognosis (CPP)
Chemical Structural Biology (CSB)
Onco-Imaging & Biotechnology (OIB)
Systems, Pathways & Targets (SPT)

In addition, the cancer center has Associate Members (AS).

 Countdown to the progress  report


days until the Cancer Center Support Grant is due, Jan. 25, 2015.
 Did you know?


The Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center will celebrate it's 20th anniversary this year. In 1994, the cancer center became an NCI-designated cancer center. To win this coveted designation, a center must conduct clinical and basic population science research, among other criteria.

 You are invited


Women's DOT Meeting
March 21, 11:30 a.m.
UC Irvine Medical Center
Building 55, Room 212

Skin DOT Meeting
March 24, 1 p.m.
UC Irvine campus, BLI Library

Colon DOT Meeting
March 25, 5 p.m.
UC Irvine Medical Center
Douglas Hospital, Room 3636

Prostate DOT Meeting
March 26, 4 p.m.
UC Irvine Medical Center
Building 3, Room 101

 Funding opportunities


Internal Funding Opportunities

Please contact:
Jacqueline Tidball
Associate Director, CCSG Administration


External Funding Opportunities

The cancer center’s extramural awards analyst provides services that include researching federal and private funding opportunities and discovering project-specific funding sources, in addition to timely editorial and proposal writing support.

Please contact:
Alisz Demecs
Extramural Awards Analyst


 Latest grant awards


Awards listed are cancer-related, more than $500,000 (direct) and are for the total award period.

Sai-Hong Ou (SPT)
“UCI 13-35: Ph 1 Study to Evaluate Safety, Tolerability, and Pharmacokinetics of MED14736 in Subjects with Advanced Solid Tumors”
Medimmune, Inc.
Direct Award: $3,489,026

Aaron Esser-Kahn (CSB)
“Directing the Immune System via Polymeric Combinations of Molecular Signals”
NIH Allergy & Infectious Diseases
Direct Award: $1,498,999

Peter Donovan (SPT)
“TCF3: A Wnt Pathway Effector in Pluripotent Stem Cell Self-Renewal”
Direct Award: $760,000

Feng Liu (AS)
“Melanoma Risk: Interactions between UV Radiation and NADPH Oxidase Gene Family”
Direct Award: $626,305

Lan Huang (SPT)
“In Vivo Interactome and Dynamics of Cullin-Ring Ligases”
Direct Award: $500,000


 Recent publications

Clemens KA, Bilanchone VW, Beliakova-Bethell N, Larsen LS, Nguyen KH, Sandmeyer SB (SPT): Sequence requirements for localization and packaging of Ty3 retroelement RNA. Virus Res 2013 Oct 171(2): 319-31. PMC3578171, PM23073180.

Halabi WJ, Nguyen VQ, Carmichael JC (AS), Pigazzi A (SPT), Stamos MJ (CPP), Mills SL: Clostridium Difficile Colitis in the United States: A Decade of Trends, Outcomes, Risk Factors for Colectomy, and Mortality after Colectomy. J. Am. Coll. Surg. 2013 Sep PM24011436.

Hess LM, Brady WE, Havrilesky LJ, Cohn DE, Monk BJ, Wenzel LB (CPP), Cella D: Comparison of methods to estimate health state utilities for ovarian cancer using quality of life data: a Gynecologic Oncology Group study. Gynecol Oncol 2013 Oct 128(2): 175-80. PMC3552113, PM23123576.

Jafari MD, Halabi WJ, Smith BR, Nguyen VQ, Phelan MJ (AS), Stamos MJ (CPP), Nguyen NT (AS): A decade analysis of trends and outcomes of partial versus total esophagectomy in the United States. Ann. Surg. 2013 Sep 258(3): 450-8 PM24022437.

James NG, Digman MA (AS), Ross JA, Barylko B, Wang L, Li JD, Chen Y, Mueller JD, Gratton E (OIB), Albanesi JP, Jameson DM: A mutation associated with centronuclear myopathy enhances the size and stability of dynamin 2 complexes in cells. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2013 Sep PM24016602. In Press.

Komarova NL (SPT): Principles of regulation of self-renewing cell lineages. PLoS ONE 2013 Sep 8(9): e72847 PMC3760876, PM24019882.

Lee ES, Horn-Ross PL, Rull RP, Neuhausen SL, Anton-Culver H (CPP), Ursin G, Henderson KD, Bernstein L: Reproductive Factors, Exogenous Hormones, and Pancreatic Cancer Risk in the CTS. Am J Epidemiol. 2013 Sep PM24008905. In Press.

Leproux A, Durkin AF, Compton ME, Cerussi AE (OIB), Gratton E (OIB), Tromberg BJ (OIB): Assessing tumor contrast in radiographically dense breast tissue using Diffuse Optical Spectroscopic Imaging (DOSI). Breast Cancer Res 2013 Sep 15(5): R89. PM24066941.

Lin AJ, Ponticorvo A, Konecky SD, Cui H, Rice TB, Choi BJ, Durkin AJ (OIB), Tromberg BJ (OIB): Visible spatial frequency domain imaging with a digital light microprojector. J Biomed Opt 2013 Sep 18(9): 96007 PMC3762936, PM24005154.

Zhang Z, Ali MM, Eckert MA, Kang DK, Chen Y, Sender LS (CPP), Fruman DA (SPT), Zhao W (OIB): A polyvalent aptamer system for targeted drug delivery. Biomaterials. 2013 Sep PM24044994. In Press

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 Help us help you

Employee Bulletin
If you have a new grant, were recently published, won an award, or have other newsworthy items, please let us know so we can publicize them in the newsletter and other media outlets. You deserve the accolades!

Send items to: tidball@uci.edu

 Contact us

Jacqueline Tidball
Associate Director, CCSG Administration

 Useful websites

UC Irvine Links:
Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
  Research Programs
   Shared Resources
   Disease Oriented Teams
   Clinical Trials
Cancer Research Institute
Center for Complex Biological Systems (CCBS)
Beckman Laser Institute

Genetic Epidemiology Research Institute (GERI)
Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center
UC Irvine Health
UC Irvine School of Medicine
UC Irvine

Organizational Links:
National Cancer Institute (NCI)

Cooperative Links:
Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology
Children's Oncology Group
ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group

 Don't forget

Employee Bulletin
Federal funding that maintains support for cancer center cores (keeping prices low) depends critically on papers published that use our center facilities. As NIH transitions to digital, it becomes critically important that you list the support of the Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG) in all appropriate publications. Verification of acknowledgment of support will come from electronically scanned publications and cannot be altered after publication. It is essential that you cite the CCSG if your publication is cancer-related and supported by the center, such as: "Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number P30CA062203. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.”

 Director's corner

Rick Van Etten, MD, PhD
Director, Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

Van EttenAs the cancer center enters its 20th year as a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer center, we can both celebrate the many accomplishments of this remarkable institute and its people, and take stock of our future.

Looking forward, we face a relatively short timeline for the submission of our next competing renewal P30 application, which will be carried out in a climate of flat or declining support for the NCI and its cancer centers program, and under the auspices of new Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG) guidelines.

To be successful, we need to increase the translation of the discoveries of our scientists into the clinic in the form of interventional clinical trials. The Disease-Oriented Teams (DOTs) are a critical part of this effort; we must support and elevate their function and launch initiatives in additional disease areas. A complementary effort on the clinical side is the establishment of a formal Experimental Therapeutics/Phase I program, which allows first-in-human testing of new drugs and devices in cancer patients, and serves as the clinical gateway for our scientific translational pipeline.

A second need is to increase the number of cooperative cancer research grants by cancer center investigators. Pilot project funding is essential to this effort, and we plan to increase support for this program. UC Irvine Health is extremely fortunate to have an affiliation with CHOC Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), and to have the UC Irvine Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (ICTS), and we will collaborate with Dr. Dan Cooper’s ICTS and Dr. Leonard Sender’s CHOC teams to increase our research integration and interactions with both entities.

Philanthropy is essential to the success of an NCI-designated cancer center, and we will work closely with our Cancer Programs Health Advancement team to grow the endowment of the cancer center and to launch new initiatives.

Lastly, we must increase the size of the clinical cancer enterprise, as the financial well-being of UC Irvine Health is intricately linked to our ability to carry out our research mission. Fortunately, in cancer, clinical research is inseparable from patient care and market share, which allows these goals to be very well aligned.

Looking further ahead, our goal will be to make the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center the best cancer center in California, while at the same time increasing our ties to our sister (UCSD, UCLA, UCD, UCSF) UC cancer centers.

Van Etten Signature
Richard A. Van Etten, MD, PhD
Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

 Feature story
Annual Scientific Retreat
Richard Van Etten (left), MD, PhD, and James Ward, MD (right)

The Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center held its annual scientific retreat on Nov. 15 - 16 at the Hyatt Regency Suites in Palm Springs, Calif. To view photos of the event click here.

The retreat was kicked-off with the 2nd annual Mentorship, Education and Training (MET) panel, a closed session led by Lari Wenzel, PhD, (CPP). In addition to Wenzel, senior panelists included Drs. Edward Nelson (OIB), Michael J. Stamos (CPP), Richard Van Etten (SPT), and Marian Waterman (SPT), who evaluated and provided career advice to our three junior faculty cancer center members (mentees). This year's mentee participants were Drs. Joseph Carmichael (AS), Leslie Randall (SPT) and Tara Seery (AS). Each mentee presented their research plans, outcomes to date and future career plans. Last year’s mentees have derived tangible benefits from the program. For example, a mentee in the first annual MET session, Weian Zhao, PhD (OIB), recently received a DoD grant of $567,373 to develop new treatments for metastatic breast cancer.

The format of the retreat allowed for great discussion among the presenters and attendees. Dr. Richard Van Etten, director of the cancer center, gave the keynote address titled “The Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center: 2014 and Beyond.” Additionally, the cancer center’s four research programs highlighted their metrics and had presentations on high impact science. Dr. Ralph Clayman, dean of the School of Medicine, and Terry Belmont, CEO of UC Irvine Medical Center, presented a UC Irvine Leadership Update. Furthermore, two of our Shared Resources, the Biostatistics Core and the Optical Biology Core, presented and all four of our Disease Oriented Teams (colon, prostate, skin and women’s) presented. The closing session of the annual retreat was devoted to chronobiology. Cancer susceptibility, metabolism, and sensitivity to chemotherapy were the focus.

At the retreat, the cancer center recognized Dr. James Ward (CPP) for his leadership in the 2013 Movember Campaign. Movember is an annual, month-long event involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of prevention, prostate, testicular cancer and other men's health challenges. Ward led several students, staff and faculty in growing moustaches and spoke at community events in an effort to educate men and women on prostate and testicular cancer

 In the news

Q&A: How do clinical trials help cancer patients?

Van EttenClinical trials test new medical treatments, conducted in the quest to develop more effective ways to treat or even cure diseases. UC Irvine Health is at the forefront of cancer research with about 140 ongoing cancer clinical trials. But clinical trials cannot proceed without patients willing to participate in the studies. Who volunteers to participate? Contrary to myth, these patients are not turning to clinical trials as a last resort. Instead, people who participate in cancer clinical trials are tapping into the highest levels of knowledge about cancer. Richard Van Etten, MD, PhD, director of the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, is a strong advocate of clinical trials. UC Irvine Health asked Dr. Van Etten why clinical trials are so valuable.


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Thank you, Michael Hayde

HaydeIn appreciation of his contributions that are transforming healthcare in Orange County, UC Irvine Health is honoring philanthropist Michael Hayde. Hayde, who is Western National Group’s chief executive officer, has long been an advocate for clinical innovation and service excellence across UC Irvine Health. Early on, his visionary support helped launch a major fundraising campaign for groundbreaking research and treatment at the UC Irvine Health Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, Orange County’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center. As the sole trustee of the MA Douglas estate, Hayde contributed a substantial gift for construction of a new university hospital. The hospital, named UC Irvine Health Douglas Hospital in honor of Hayde’s late business partner and friend, now stands as a testament to the concern for others and the community leadership demonstrated by both men. In recognition of his profound impact on patient care, Hayde will receive the organization’s highest honor, the 2014 UC Irvine Health CEO Leadership Award. This is only the second time the award has been given; community leaders Thomas and Elizabeth Tierney were the inaugural recipients in 2012. “Mike epitomizes all that the health leadership award is intended to honor,” says Terry Belmont, UC Irvine Medical Center chief executive officer. “His philanthropic leadership and dedication to helping others have truly changed how patients experience care at UC Irvine Health. In addition, he is a valued advisor to me. We are grateful for his generous spirit and ongoing commitment to making high-quality care accessible to Orange County.” Belmont will present the award to Hayde at the UC Irvine Health Gala on Saturday, April 26, 2014, at the Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. For more information about the gala, call 714-456-3788.

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The future of the adolescent young adult (AYA) cancer movement
A chat with Dr. Leonard Sender

SenderIn the News: The Huffington Post spoke with Dr. Leonard Sender (CPP) about adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer movement. Sender is regarded as one of the leading advocacy pioneers of the AYA oncology movement. He developed the joint AYA Cancer Program at CHOC Children's and UC Irvine Health.


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UC Irvine Health and Memorial Care Health System announce affiliation to expand access to high-quality healthcare
UC Irvine Health and Memorial Care Health System have announced a new affiliation agreement to expand access to high-quality, cost-effective healthcare throughout Orange County and to create new models of care that improve the health and well-being of their communities. The collaborative partnership will facilitate new, state-of-the-art primary care health centers; however, they will remain independent health systems. The new health centers will provide access to the cancer center’s clinical research program.


 Clinical trial spotlight
UCI-09-53: “A Phase II, Single-Arm Study of Pazopanib and Paclitaxel as First-Line Treatment for Subjects with Unresectable Stage III and Stage IV Melanoma (Appendix T)"

Principal Investigator: John Fruehauf, MD, PhD (SPT)

FruehaufBackground: Metastatic melanoma lacks effective therapy. Pazopanib is a small-molecule inhibitor of VEGFR-1,2,3, PDGFR-B and c-KIT that has antiangiogenic activity in renal cell cancer as well as inhibition of melanoma tumor xenografts. We designed a phase II single arm, open label clinical trial evaluating pazopanib in combination with metronomic paclitaxel as first line therapy for subjects with unresectable stage III and stage IV melanoma.

Methods: This protocol utilizes a Simon 2-stage Minimax design, with a planned interim analysis to confirm >3 responders to move to the second stage. To date, 24 patients are evaluable for response. All subjects were treatment naïve and received paclitaxel at 80mg/m2 weekly for three weeks in a four week cycle and pazopanib at 800 mg as a continuous daily oral dose. The primary endpoint is six month progression free survival. Exploratory endpoints include biomarker analysis that may be associated with treatment outcomes (serum VEGF, soluble VEGFR-2, serum HIF, serum TSP1 and BRAF mutation status). An additional exploratory endpoint includes the in vitro activity of pazopanib and paclitaxel on patient biopsy material co-cultured with vascular endothelial cells. RECIST 1.1 criteria were used to define treatment response (SD criteria was a minimum interval of eight weeks).

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 Cancer center member spotlight

The Cancer Center Member Spotlight recognizes the diverse contributions made by the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center members in research, education and patient care. The profiled members reflect the great work being done here and the dedication and values we possess. To suggest someone to be profiled, please contact Jacquie Tidball at tidball@uci.edu.

Edward Nelson, MD (OIB)
Chief, Division of Hematology/Oncology, School of Medicine Associate Professor of Medicine, School of Medicine Associate Professor Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, School of Biological Sciences

Dr. Edward Nelson is an active medical oncologist and physician scientist. Nelson is also a member of the Cancer Research Institute and the Institute for Immunology. He has an established track record of clinical, translational, and basic laboratory research, focused on tumor immunology and methods to augment patient’s anti-tumor immune response. He has been Principal Investigator of hypothesis driven investigator initiated and cooperative group/pharmaceutical supported clinical studies and has been co-Principal investigator of an NIH (RO1) funded clinical study entitled, “Stress, Immunity, & Cervical Cancer: Biobehavioral Outcomes of a Randomized Trial.” In addition, Nelson has maintained cross-disciplinary research programs, which include participation as co-investigator and faculty member of the NSF- Integrative Graduate Education and Research Trainee (IGERT) “Life Chips” program at UC Irvine. His work in the IGERT “Life Chips” program includes development of the micropallet array platform to isolate and analyze single cells from complex mixtures, combined microfluidic dielectropheresis systems as point-of-care devices, and biomarker analyses. He has also studied a unique vector system with intrinsic tropism for dendritic cells, the so called professional antigen-presenting and most potent immune stimulating cells, to induce antigen-specific anti-tumor immune responses in animal tumor models. Nelson is particularly interested in maintaining the exceptionally high quality of our oncology care, the translational applications of advanced technologies, the education of both scientist and clinicians in the application of those technologies, and the clinical trial efforts that drive this translational effort.

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 Program highlight

Chemical Structural Biology (CSB)

Program Leaders: Gregory Weiss, PhD, and Tom Poulos, PhD

The main themes of the Chemical Structural Biology (CSB) program continues to be carrying out research on cancer-relevant molecules at the level of atoms and bonds using biophysical and chemical techniques, in addition to the development of novel tools for cancer research. Historically, UC Irvine has strong programs in synthetic organic chemistry, chemical biology, NMR spectroscopy, computational biology, and X-ray crystallography. A number of faculty have long standing and well-funded research projects in structure-based drug design. The program's main mission is to utilize this expertise in cancer specific research projects.

This is an exciting time for the CSB program as they build on their recent successes, including the addition of faculty in computational modeling, organic synthesis, and nanotechnology for diagnostics. Specifically, the program anticipates adding a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry to strengthen the existing effort. This recruitment is currently taking place. The program wants to identify a future superstar at the junior faculty level who can synthesize new anti-cancer therapeutics or accelerate the progress of diagnostics towards the clinic. In addition, program leaders anticipate adding four faculty members from chemistry to the CSB program. Specifically, AJ Shaka, PhD, has expressed interest in translational research aimed at chemoprevention; a former Rhodes Scholar and exceptionally creative researcher with broad interests, Shaka has outside the box ideas about low level radiation as a chemopreventative approach. In addition, Vy Dong, PhD, and Elizabeth Jarvo, PhD, (AS), are world leaders in the discovery of new reactions for more rapidly synthesizing organic compounds, and both have expressed interest in pursuing cancer research. Their addition to the CSB program will augment the strength that the cancer center has in this area.

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 Core highlight

In each issue of CAncer REsearch, we take an in-depth look at one of the seven core facilities supported by the cancer center. We also have a quarterly shared resources e-newsletter that contains important updates from all our shared resources. If you would like to receive our Shared Resources newsletter in your inbox, please send an email with “Shared Resources Newsletter” in the subject line to tidball@uci.edu.

Biostatistics Shared Resource (BSR)
Director: Daniel Gillen, PhD, (CPP)
Facility Manager: Michael Phelan, PhD, (AS)

Gillen Biostatistics Shared Resource (BSR) faculty Daniel Gillen, PhD, (CPP) and Michael Phelan, PhD, (AS) have recently collaborated with cancer center members Dr. Robert Bristow (CPP) and Dr. Leslie Randall (SPT) on a phase I dose-finding study in the setting of hyperthermic intraoperative intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC). Briefly, HIPEC is the administration of one dose of heated intraperitoneal therapy at the time of standard cytoreductive surgery for gynecologic peritoneal surface malignancies. Drs. Bristow and Randall are leading researchers in the use of HIPEC, but to date little empirical data is available on the maximally tolerated dose (MTD) of chemotherapy to be administered during the procedure. Guided by collaboration with the BSR, the phase I study will employ a continual reassessment method (CRM) for quantifying the MTD of chemotherapy during the HIPEC procedure. The proposed Bayesian adaptive design treats trial patients at the best guess of the MTD based on all cumulative observations combined with prior information elicited from HIPEC experts. The proposal has just received cancer center seed grant funding. The project has also led to the submission of an NCI R21 statistical methods grant with Gillen as PI, who will develop and investigate novel dose-finding methods, using the HIPEC trial as the primary motivating example.

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 Disease Oriented Team (DOT)  highlight

Women's DOT (W-DOT)



Co-leaders: Krishnansu S. Tewari, MD, (CPP), and Lydia Su, PhD, (OIB)

At the November W-DOT meeting, co-leader, Lydia Su, PhD, reviewed Dr. Van Etten’s SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats), that was presented at the annual Scientific Retreat which included plans to create a Phase I Unit. Additionally, co-leader, Dr. Krish Tewari, went over the Women’s DOT presentation he presented at the annual scientific retreat. He also told the DOT about two recent European conferences he attended, and announced his publication regarding Lynch syndrome and its effects on the Vietnamese community. Other notable announcements included Drs. Parima Daroui (AS) and Chaitali Nangia (AS) initiating discussions regarding the nomination process for the Mentorship, Education and Training (MET) program.

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MeyskensFrank Meyskens, MD, (CPP)
Dr. Frank Meyskens was recognized for his hard work and dedication as part of the UC Irvine-University of Oregon team that prepared the NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) Research Base grant application. Meyskens (Co-PI) and his SWOG colleagues at the University of Oregon, namely SWOG Chair, Dr. Charles Blanke (PI) submitted the application. Meyskens is SWOG's Associate Chair for Cancer Control and Prevention and reorganized SWOG's initiatives about five years ago, guiding the evolution of SWOG cancer prevention, control, and screening (CPCS) studies from classic epidemiology based protocols toward pathway and data-driven studies and new trial designs. Meyskens continues to oversee SWOG’s CPCS research, as well as SWOG’s cancer care delivery (CCD) research program.

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Cancer center exceeds SWOG accrual goal
Dr. Jason Zell updated the CFCCC and announced the increased accruals to SWOG trials. Having recently returned from SWOG-Chicago, he reported encouraging accrual for the one-year membership data for July 1 2012 to June 30, 2013, which shows that UC Irvine is responsible for 30 SWOG accruals, in addition to another seven accruals at our affiliate institutions. Zell continues to point-out that overall numbers for the GI malignancies accrued 17 patients (including affiliate accruals), making us the fourth highest among 75 SWOG institutions in accruals to SWOG-GI protocols. "This certainly puts us on the map within the GI committee, and secures our spot as a member institution," said Zell.

Jason A. Zell, DO, MPH, is the director of the Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Program at UC Irvine.

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RandallLeslie Randall, MD, (SPT)
Dr. Leslie Randall has been selected to receive the Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG) New Investigators Award for 2014 for her project titled “Impact of Thrombocytosis in Women with Ovarian Cancer Treated with and without Bevacizumab on GOG 218.” Genentech working cooperatively with the GOG will sponsor her project, and the funding date for the award will begin February 2014. Award recipients will be expected to provide the GOG with a progress report each year and after completion of the second year, present a short presentation at the GOG Semi Annual Meeting in January 2016. As a 2014 award recipient, Randall will be asked to actively participate in the Ovarian Committee Workshop as a Full committee member. Randal will be accepting her award at the NRG 2014 Winter Semi Annual Meeting in San Diego, Calif., on Feb. 6 to 9, 2014 during the General Session.

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Leslie Thompson, PhD, (SPT) and Qing Nie, PhD, (SPT)

UC Irvine neurobiologist Leslie Thompson, PhD, and mathematician Qing Nie, PhD, have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election as an AAAS fellow is an honor bestowed upon association members by their peers. Thompson, a professor of psychiatry & human behavior, was selected for her distinguished contributions to the Huntington’s disease field, particularly relating to mechanisms underlying the cause of the disease, to medical school teaching and to HD-related professional societies. Nie, a professor of mathematics, was chosen for his work in the field of systems biology and for developing pioneering educational programs for students in mathematical and systems biology. This year’s 388 new AAAS fellows were formally announced in the AAAS News & Notes section of the Nov. 29 issue of the journal Science. Each will be presented with an official certificate and a gold rosette pin Feb. 15 at the AAAS Fellows Forum during the 2014 AAAS annual meeting in Chicago. Nie and Thompson are the 133rd and 134th UC Irvine researchers to be named AAAS fellows.

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OuSai-Hong Ignatius Ou, MD, PhD, (SPT)
Congratulations to cancer center member, Dr. Sai-Hong Ignatius Ou, for the successful breakthrough therapy of a second generation ALK inhibitor drug called alectinib, which the FDA has fast-tracked to further develop and review. Alectinib produced significant responses in patients with lung cancer in addition to consistent clinical activity in patients with symptomatic brain metastases. In fact, “a 29 year old woman with a seven-year history of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) positive lung cancer cleared malignant brain cells within four weeks after starting oral alectinib,” said Ou during his presentation at the European Cancer Congress, which was held in Amsterdam. Alectinib is developed by Roche/Chugai, who also sponsored the clinical trials.

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Esser-KahnAaron Esser-Kahn, PhD, (CSB)
Cancer center member, Aaron Esser-Kahn, PhD, has been named a recipient of the prestigious 2013 National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator Awards. The highly selective award program supports projects by early-career researchers that show potential to transform scientific fields and accelerate the translation of research into new ways to improve human health. Esser-Kahn will receive $1.5 million for five years to fund his project. He is among three investigators at UC Irvine and 41 investigators to receive the award. Esser-Kahn is an assistant professor of chemistry in the School of Physical Sciences. The New Innovator Award will boost his efforts to understand vaccine effectiveness by looking at structure of its molecular components. By uncovering this “molecular code,” Esser-Kahn believes this research can aid in the development of safer, more targeted vaccines.

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Three UC Irvine Health surgeons and cancer center members have been chosen to lead their professional organizations. Pictured from left to right: Dr. Michael J. Stamos, the John E. Connolly endowed Chair of Surgery, serves as president of the American Board of Colon & Rectal Surgery; Dr. Gregory Evans, chief of the Aesthetic and Plastic Surgery Institute, serves as president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons; and Dr. Ninh Nguyen, chief of gastrointestinal surgery, is the president of the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

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Outstanding achievements in medical education
At the end of the 2012-13 academic year, the School of Medicine and its students recognized outstanding achievements in medical education. Awards were given to cancer center members in the following categories:

Excellence in Teaching – Basic Sciences:
Michael Cahalan, PhD, (OIB)
Ann Calof, PhD, (SPT)
Robert Edwards, MD, PhD, (SPT)
Robert Steele, PhD, (SPT)
Ming Tam, MD, (SPT)
Leslie Thompson, PhD, (SPT)

In addition, a Golden Apple and Kaiser Permanente Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Clinical Faculty Member went to Dr. Robert Bristow (CPP).

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LudererUlrike Luderer, PhD, (CPP)

LudererCharles Limoli, PhD, (SPT)

NASA has selected UC Irvine as one of 11 awardees to receive a total amount of approximately $13.8 million during a four-year period. Ulrike Luderer, PhD, along with co-investigator, Charles Limoli, PhD, was selected for their proposal on “Charged Particle Effects on the Ovary.” The grant is due to start on March 1, 2014, and it's a one year pilot project funded at $450K total, of which $292K is direct. Proposals were openly solicited from academia, industry and government laboratories and were judged for scientific merit. According to NASA, these studies will help enable the human exploration of space without exceeding limiting risks from space radiation. The research will use new experimental approaches in understanding space radiation risks of cancer, heart and circulatory disease and long-term cognitive function.

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 New faces
Please join us in welcoming our new cancer center members!

HowellErica Howell, PhD (AS)
Erica Howell is an assistant professor in the Department of Special Education at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) and co-director of CSUF’s Center for Autism. Howell and Dr. Leonard Sender are co-investigators of a P20 grant from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health that was awarded by CSUF’s Health Promotion Research Institute and the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. The aim of the grant is to create and implement a training program aimed at increasing oncology medical providers’ (doctors, nurses, child-life specialists, etc.) knowledge and skills in supporting patients with autism receiving cancer treatment. Through this investigation, the fields of education and medicine will combine their expertise in order to better support children with autism at Children’s Hospital Orange County (CHOC). In order to successfully conduct the research and implement the training, Howell will complete online tutorials on cancer treatment, complete observations in the oncology unit at CHOC and run focus groups of medical providers and parents of children with autism. Howell has been appointed as an associate member of the cancer center.

KahlonKanwarpal Kahlon, MD (AS)
Dr. Kanwarpal Kahlon is an assistant professor in the Division of Hematology/Oncology. Kahlon’s clinical interest is in exploring novel therapies, including immunomodulation, targeted therapies, and chemotherapy combinations, for relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma, which is not a curable disease. In addition, he is interested in therapies that may delay the progression to symptomatic myeloma in patients with its precursor abnormalities, MGUS and smoldering myeloma. Kahlon is also interested in bone disease caused by myeloma and its precursor lesions: along with infection, this causes much of the morbidity and mortality, and is currently managed with monthly bisphosphonates, which carry their own risks when used for an extended period of time. From a scientific point of view, Kahlon is interested in the initiating genetic events and mechanisms of escape that result in treatment resistance, in myeloma and other plasma cell disorders such as Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia. Kahlon has been appointed as an associate member of the cancer center.

UchioEdward Uchio, MD (CPP)
Dr. Edward Uchio is an associate clinical professor in the Department of Urology. He is a nationally recognized specialist in urologic oncology, joining UC Irvine as the Director of Urologic Oncology. Uchio’s expertise is in hereditary kidney tumor syndromes, such as von Hippel Lindau (VHL) Disease; utilizing modern techniques such as percutaneous cryotherapy; and radiofrequency ablation to minimize operative morbidity. He also specializes in robotic and minimally invasive surgery. He completed his urologic oncology fellowship at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md. Uchio has been appointed as a full member in the Cancer Prevention & Prognosis Program.