UT Health Science Center and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Host Collaborative Cancer Research Conference

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Meiyun Fan, MD, PhD, associate professor of Pathology at UTHSC, presenting during the poster presentation session. (Photo by Thurman Hobson/UTHSC)

 

USA CORNET Award Opportunity to Fund New Cancer Research Initiatives Announced

More than 100 cancer researchers convened in Memphis on Tuesday, May 2, for the Spring 2017 Cancer Research Conference. Hosted by the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) in partnership with West Cancer Center and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), the event showcased cancer research being done at both universities and provided investigators with the opportunity to meet and identify common interests.

During the conference, the second UTHSC/UAMS Collaborative Research Network (CORNET) Award opportunity was announced. Conceived by Steven R. Goodman, PhD, vice chancellor for Research at UTHSC, and Lawrence Cornett, PhD, vice chancellor for Research at UAMS, the UTHSC/UAMS CORNET Awards in Cancer will provide seed money to stimulate innovative, interdisciplinary, team-based cancer research, which will give rise to future extramural funding.

“It was gratifying seeing a filled auditorium listening to wonderful presentations on basic, translational and clinical research related to cancer,” said Dr. Goodman. “It is both my hope and expectation that this event will lead to research collaborations between UTHSC and UAMS resulting in better treatments and ultimately cures in the battle against cancer.”

More than 100 cancer researchers from UTHSC, The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and West Cancer Center gathered May 2 for the Spring 2017 Cancer Research Conference. (Photo by Thurman Hobson/UTHSC)

At least two faculty members, one from UTHSC and the other from UAMS, who are doing cancer research (inclusive of T0 to T4), may apply for a UTHSC/UAMS CORNET Award in Cancer. Resources are available to fund up to three awards, for up to $50,000 per award, for one year.

At the Cancer Research Conference, attendees heard from eight speakers representing both campuses on their cancer research or on the work being done by investigators at their respective sites. A poster presentation session featuring projects from participants was also held. The conference’s cohost Dr. Cornett is inspired by the continual success of these conferences and the collaborative partnerships between both institutions.

“The meeting displayed the wide range of innovative cancer research that is being conducted by UAMS, UTHSC, and West Cancer Center investigators,” said Dr. Cornett. “I came away optimistic that we will see new collaborations form that will accelerate the discovery of new cancer treatments and that will address health disparities that impact individuals who live in the areas served by the three institutions.”

Lee Schwartzberg, MD, FACP, professor of Medicine, chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, and executive director at West Cancer Center, was one of the featured presenters. The medical oncologist, whose topic was “Clinical Advances in Hormone Receptor Positive (HR+) Breast Cancer,” discussed the evolution of therapies for hormone receptor positive advanced breast cancer. He emphasized recent and ongoing clinical trials utilizing cyclin-dependent kinase 4/6 inhibitors and androgen receptor inhibition. In his opinion, the conference was a platform for future collaboration between investigators at both universities.

“I thought the conference was an excellent showcase of the various strengths in translational research at UTHSC and UAMS,” said Dr. Schwartzberg. “We were able to identify several areas of collaboration and recognized core facilities, which were unique to each of our institutions and can be leveraged by the other. The conference was an ideal way to foster a spirit of cooperation in order to make more rapid progress in fighting cancer at multiple levels, including prevention and treatment.”

In a talk titled “Overview of Cancer Research at the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute,” Peter D. Emanuel, MD, director of the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute and professor of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, spoke to attendees about the aspects of becoming a NCI-designated cancer center, as well as areas where further interaction and collaboration with scientific partners in the geographic area may be helpful.

“From a broad perspective, I think this initial conference was a wonderful opportunity to allow administrators and scientists from both universities some insights as to the priorities and strengths of the other side,” said Dr. Emanuel. “From a scientist’s perspective the talks, the posters, and the opportunity to interact were wonderful. I am certain that many interactive research projects will emanate out of this conference and future meetings.”

The CORNET Awards are being implemented in four phases: (1) UTHSC CORNET Awards, where nine teams from the Memphis campus were awarded more than $422,504 for new collaborative research initiatives in April 2016; (2) UT CORNET Awards, of which three teams of researchers from multiple UT campuses across the state of Tennessee were recently granted more than $150,000 to pursue their cancer research projects; (3) USA CORNET Awards, of which UAMS is UTHSC’s first partner university; and (4) Global CORNET Awards.

From left: Lawrence Cornett, PhD, vice chancellor for Research at UAMS; Peter D. Emanuel, MD, director of the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute and professor of Medicine at UAMS; Lee Schwartzberg, MD, FACP, professor of Medicine and chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology at UTHSC and executive director at West Cancer Center;  Hong-yu Li, PhD, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Arkansas Research Alliance Scholar, Helen Adams & Arkansas Research Alliance Endowed Chair, co-Director of Therapeutics Sciences Program, Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, UAMS; Subhash C. Chauhan, PhD, professor in the Departments of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pathology at UTHSC; Steven R. Goodman, PhD, vice chancellor for Research at UTHSC (Photo by Thurman Hobson/UTHSC)
From left: Lawrence Cornett, PhD, vice chancellor for Research at UAMS;  Daohong Zhou, MD, professor and Deputy Director-Division of Radiation Health, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Winthrop P. Rockefeller Endowed Chair for Leukemia Research, Associate Director for Basic Research-Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, UAMS: L. Joseph Su, PhD, MPH, co-director, Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences Program-Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, professor, Department of Epidemiology, UAMS; David Shibata, MD, FACS, FASCRS, Scheinberg Endowed Chair in Surgery Professor and chair, Department of Surgery, UTHSC; Deputy Director, West Cancer Center, Tiffany N. Seagroves, PhD, associate professor of Pathology, Executive Director, Molecular Resource Center of Excellence, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research-Research Cores, UTHSC;  Steven R. Goodman, PhD, vice chancellor for Research at UTHSC (Photo by Thurman Hobson/UTHSC)