In the news / Cancer

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Dr. Juanita Merchant, BIO5 member, professor, and chief of Gastroenterology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, is a gastric cancer expert whose research focuses on the molecular mechanisms of the disease. Dr. Merchant led a team of University of Arizona Health Sciences researchers who discovered a promising new biomarker that can be identified through a simple blood test, that may help with early detection of the disease and lead to better treatment.
 
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Dr. Judith Su runs the UArizona Little Sensor Lab, where researchers are working to sense tiny amounts – down to a single molecule – of everything from doping agents to biomarkers for cancer, Alzheimer's disease, Lyme disease and, yes, even COVID-19. Dr. Su, biomedical engineering and optical sciences professor and a member of the BIO5 Institute, has received a $1.82 million, five-year Maximizing Investigators' Research Award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which is part of the National Institutes of Health.
 
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On campus at the University of Arizona, researchers are trying to crack the cancer code. With the help of a grant from the American Cancer Society Dr. Jacob Schwartz, BIO5 member and assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, is taking a closer look at the the behavior of the childhood cancer, Ewing Sarcoma. Dr. Schwartz also says it is helping them understand other cancers along the way.
 
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UArizona Health Sciences professor and BIO5 member Dr. Cynthia Thomson, recently helped update the American Cancer Society's guidelines on cancer prevention lifestyle habits that could save lives. These guidelines cover the simple yet meaningful ways in which diet and physical activity can help people reduce their personal risks for developing cancer.
 
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A UArizona Cancer Center research team, co-led by BIO5 members Drs. Clara Curiel-Lewandrowski and Dongkyun Kang, is creating a portable, less expensive version of a skin cancer diagnostic microscope to improve cancer care. This device would allow doctors to quickly and safely diagnose many skin cancers and monitor responses to treatment without a biopsy.
 
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Scientists are only just starting to scratch the surface of how diverse species of bacteria interact with our unique body chemistries to influence our health. One of those scientists is Dr. Melissa Herbst-Kralovetz, a UArizona COM-Passociate professor and BIO5 member, who leads a team of researchers who are working to better understand how to predict, prevent and treat gynecologic cancers.
 
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The UArizona Cancer Center is one of two new centers to join the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network (CPCRN) and has received an initial $1.4 million to advance cancer prevention and control science, with particular focus on the health needs of Hispanic cancer survivors. Dr. Cynthia A. Thomson, a professor in the UArizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and BIO5 member, discusses the importance of this distinction for the center's public health initiatives.
 
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Dr. Jeffrey Burgess, a UArizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health researcher and BIO5 member has spent decades researching the connection between firefighters and chemical exposures that can lead to cancer. Dr. Burgess and a team of researchers throughout the U.S. are looking into the genetic changes caused by a firefighter's exposure to chemicals present at fires and different methods that can be used to quickly clear their bodies of these toxins.
 
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The National Cancer Institute, a unit of the National Institutes on Health, has awarded a UArizona Cancer Center study a five-year, $6.9 million grant. The team, led by UArizona Skin Cancer Institute co-director, College of Medicine-Tucson Dermatology professor, and BIO5 member Dr. Clara Curiel-Lewandrowski, will use the funding to help develop new strategies to prevent and reduce the risk of squamous cell carcinoma, the second most-common form of non-melanoma skin cancer.
 
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UArizona Biomedical Engineering professor and director of the BIO5 Institute Dr. Jennifer Barton, gives a look into a day in her life. Dr. Barton discusses her academic and professional journey, how and why she began conducting her current research, and the importance of women becoming increasingly involved in engineering and STEM fields.
 
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The Arizona Prevention Research Center has received a $7.5 million, five-year award from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to continue critical collaborations with community health workers and their organizations in Pima, Maricopa, Yuma, Santa Cruz and Cochise Counties. This award will benefit a cancer prevention research project led by UArizona Zuckerman College of Public Health professor, and BIO5 and UArizona Cancer Center member, Dr. Cynthia Thomson.
 
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Dr. Jennifer Barton, University of Arizona professor of biomedical engineering and director of the BIO5 Institute, has been appointed to the National Advisory Council for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, part of the National Institutes of Health. The council advises the leadership of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, or NIBIB, on policies and priorities related to research, training and health information dissemination in the areas of biomedical imaging and engineering.
 
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In an interview with MD Magazine, Dr. Monica Kraft, Department of Medicine chair at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, detailed her session on interpreting gender sex differences in lung disease, and what clinicians need to know when monitoring and caring for women at risk of asthma.
 
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Five years ago, after a Tucson firefighter sought out help for a fire investigator diagnosed with leukemia, UA College of Public Health Associate Dean of Research and BIO5 member Dr. Jefferey Burgess, began to study and prove how firefighters’ health issues are directly related to their work. These findings could help firefighters receive workers compensation for health issues caused by their jobs.
 
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When two studies attempting to identify new colon cancer treatment methods found different results, UA COM-T Assistant Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and BIO5 Faculty Dr. Curtis Thorne, was asked to help settle the uncertainty. Dr. Thorne called upon one of his doctoral student, Carly Cabel, to assist in his research determining whether therapeutic targeting of specific proteins is a viable treatment for colon cancer.
 
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Tanning (and burning) can lead to Melanoma, one of the most common skin cancers among adolescents and young adults. New prevention and treatment methods for skin cancers are being developed by the UA Cancer Center’s Skin Cancer Institute (SCI). The Institute houses experts including SCI founder Dr. David Alberts and SCI co-director Dr. Clara Curiel, both BIO5 faculty, who are collaborating to help make skin cancers a thing of the past.
 
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Funded by the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute at the National Institute of Health, Dr. Jacob Schwartz, an Assistant Professor in the UA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and BIO5 faculty, has created a new drug treatment for a class of cancers. Dr. Schwartz’s primary focus is Ewing’s sarcoma, a childhood cancer that is driven by proteins he and his students are investigating.
 
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Most studies have shown correlations between the microbiome and the effectiveness of drugs, but a recent study is one of the first to dig into how these associations work. Better understanding the causal links in drug responses may mean scientists are able to do more with our gut microbes.  BIO5 faculty and UA College of Medicine-Phoenix associate professor Dr. Melissa Herbst-Kralovetz, thinks this may pave the way for doctors to choose the most effective drug for individual patients.