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Researcher Wins Grant to Investigate Non-Toxic Lung Cancer Treatment


The Phillip Morris External Research Program awarded a $744,765 three-year grant to Susan E. Senogles, PhD, UTHSC associate professor of molecular sciences.

The Phillip Morris External Research Program awarded a $744,765 three-year grant to Susan E. Senogles, PhD, associate professor of molecular sciences at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC).

Dr. Senogles” research is focused on small-cell lung cancer, which comprises about 25% of all lung cancer, and is the type most closely associated with tobacco smoking. Specifically, she is exploring the growth-inhibiting effects of D2 dopamine receptors which are found on small-cell lung cancer cells. Earlier research from her laboratory found that D2 dopamine receptors inhibit growth of pituitary tumor cells, and Dr. Senogles hopes to demonstrate that it will have the same effect on small-cell lung cancer.

“Dopamine receptors are most commonly found in the central nervous system. However, small-cell lung cancer represents a certain type of tumor which expresses the D2 Dopamine receptors. We hope to exploit this characteristic to inhibit growth of these tumor cells. Currently, we are working with small-cell lung cancer cells in the laboratory,” Dr. Senogles explained.

“Dr. Senogles has devoted her career to studying the effects of dopamine receptors. This grant will allow her to investigate them in greater depth and could very well lead to findings that point to potentially new, non-toxic drugs for cancer treatment,” noted Gerald I. Byrne, PhD, professor and chairman of the Department of Molecular Sciences.

Dr. Senogles holds a PhD in biochemistry and biophysical biochemistry from the University of Minnesota and was a post-doctoral fellow at Duke University in the Department of Cell Biology. She has published widely, is a reviewer for several major academic journals, and is a past reviewer for National Institutes of Health (NIH) study sections.