Masonic Cancer Center

A comprehensive cancer center designated by the National Cancer Institute

MCC Update 06-18-13

Update is the official newsletter of the Masonic Cancer Center for faculty, members, staff, colleagues, and friends. All submissions for the next issue must be sent to Sandi Sherman,, by Noon on the Fridays for publication the following Tuesday.

NOTE: Update will be published bi-weekly beginning with this issue. Weekly publication will resume on September 10, 2013.


June 18, 2013


In This Issue


Professional Education


Funding Opportunities

Postdoctoral Position Available



Members in the news

Supreme Court ruling that human genes cannot be patented on KMSP-TV.


Research in the laboratory of Bin He, Ph.D., Tumor Microenvironment Program, has led to the development of a noninvasive system that allows people to control movement with their thoughts, a discovery that could help people who are paralyzed or have neurodegenerative diseases. The research, published in the Journal of Neural Engineering, was reported in a number of media outlets: Slate Magazine, Today's Medical Developments, Engineering on the Edge and Health Talk.


Elizabeth Pluhar, D.V.M., Ph.D., Immunology Program, discussed how the treatment of dogs with brain tumors helps human brain tumor patients on KMSP-TV.


Logan Spector, Ph.D., Prevention and Etiology Program, Logan Spector, Ph.D., Prevention and Etiology Program, discussed research identifying genetic variants associated with osteosarcoma in a Health Talk story.


Congratulations to Masonic Cancer Center member Jasmine Foo, Ph.D., assistant professor in the School of Mathematics, who has been named a 2013-2015 McKnight Land Grant Professor.  Foo’s research interest is in the development of mathematical models to understand the evolutionary process driving cancer initiation and progression. 

Congratulations to Debra Herzan, R.N., BSN, OCN, CCRP, senior research nurse clinician in the Clinical Trials Office, for being selected to receive the Joan K. Mauer Memorial Quality Assurance Award. Nominated by Dr. David Hurd in recognition of her “exceptional dedication as a volunteer auditor for CALGB, the Clinical Trials Monitoring Branch of the NCI selected her because of her “dedication to ensuring the conduct of high quality clinical trials was particularly commendable.”

Breast Center wins accreditation
The Breast Center of the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, has received full accreditation from that National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC). In addition to being deemed compliant in all 27 standards, the program recommended Best Practice in four standards: Medical Oncology, Nursing, Evaluation and Management of Benign Breast Disease (survivorship, breast health specialist and high risk clinic), and Education, Prevention and Early Detection Programs. 

Cancer Center members receive grants

Minnesota Futures Grants
Cancer research is the focus of the two research teams that were awarded 2013 Minnesota Futures Grants. This program supports extraordinary research by nurturing interdisciplinary ideas. The goal is to develop new ideas to a point where they are competitive for external funding. The award covers expenses of up to $250,000 over two years and is supported by technology commercialization revenue. The two teams include Masonic Cancer Center researchers:

  • Christy Haynes, Ph.D., Chemistry; John Bischof, Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering; Chris Hogan, Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering; Michael Garwood, PhD., Radiology: “Maximizing Magnetic Relaxation and Heating in Nanoparticle Therapeutics.” Bischof and Garwood are members of the Tumor Microenvironment Program.
  • Benjamin Hackel, Ph.D., Chemical Engineering and Materials Science; Jayanth Panyam, Ph.D., Pharmaceutics; Deepali Sachdev, Ph.D., Medicine and Pharmacology: “Targeting Metastatic Breast Cancer with Dual Specificity.” Panyam is a member of the Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Program and Sachdev is a member of the Cell Signaling Program.

Grant-in-Aid Program
The Grant-in-Aid program supports work in five categories: new assistant professors; shared equipment purchases; faculty in fields with little external funding available; faculty moving into new areas of research; and bridge funding to maintain ongoing research during a temporary lapse in external funding. A total of 56 awards, averaging $25,000, were given to university faculty to support a wide variety of research activities.

  • Ameeta Kelekar, Ph.D., Cell Signaling Program, “Biophysical analysis of the structural dynamics of Bcl-2 protein, Noxa
  • David Largaespada, Ph.D., Genetic Mechanisms of Cancer Program, “Direct generation of tumor specific memory CD8 T cells
  • Timothy Starr, Ph.D., Genetic Mechanisms of Cancer Program, “Karl Storz Mouuse Coloview Endoscopy System”
  • Vaiva Vezys, Ph.D., Immunology Program, “Immunity to SIV infection"

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Professional Education

June 19-20, 2013: Cancer Disparities Summit: Moving Communities Towards Change
Sponsors: Minnesota Center for Cancer Collaborations (MC3) and Minnesota Cancer Alliance
The Cancer Disparities Summit will provide participants with a chance to learn about disparities that exist in cancer screening, treatment and mortality, to educate participants about how they can improve cancer prevention, management and survivorship, and to understand how they can participate in initiatives aimed at reducing the cancer disparities throughout Minnesota. One and a half day meeting in Twin Cities with plenary speakers and break-out workshops, poster session, possibly with an evening reception. For more information visit the website.

Registration is now open online.

September 16, 2013: 10th Annual Women’s Health Research Conference – “Optimizing Women’s Health Through a Life Course Approach”
McNamara Alumni Center, 200 Oak St, Minneapolis, Minn.
Keynote Speakers:
Paula Braveman, M.D., M.P.H., Professor, Family and Community Medicine, University of California-San Francisco
Janet Rich-Edwards, ScD, M.P.H., Investigator, Nurses’ Health Study, Harvard School of Public Health

To register visit the website.

September 26-27, 2013: The Second Minnesota Neuro-Oncology Symposium: Basic Discovery Accelerating Groundbreaking Brain Tumor Therapy
McNamara Alumni Center, 200 Oak Street SE, Minneapolis, Minn.
Presented by: The Brain Tumor Program, Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital

For more information and to register visit the website.

Visit the Education and Training Opportunities web page for more conference and special lecture listings.

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June 22, 2013: Time to Fly 2013
Harriet Island Regional Park, St. Paul, Minn.
The Children's Cancer Research Fund's athletic fundraising event includes a 10K and 5K run, a 5K walk and a kids' fun run. Visit for more information and to register.

September 18, 2013: Save the Date for Varsity Team Rally III!
6-9 p.m., Cancer/Cardiovascular Building, Biomedical Discovery District

Visit the Community Events and Outreach page for more information.

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Funding Opportunities

Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award
Sponsor: Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation
Deadline: July 1, 2013
The Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award provides support for the next generation of exceptionally creative thinkers with "high-risk/high-reward" ideas that have the potential to significantly impact our understanding of and/or approaches to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. This award is specifically designed to provide funding for extraordinary early career researchers who have an innovative, new idea but lack sufficient preliminary data to obtain traditional funding.

Searle Scholars Program
Sponsor: Chicago Community Trust
Deadline: OVPR: July 3, 2013; Final deadline: September 27, 2013
This grant supports the independent research of outstanding individuals who have begun their first appointment as an independent investigator at the assistant professor level on or after July 1, 2012. Applicants will be expected to be pursuing independent research careers in biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, immunology, neuroscience, pharmacology, and related areas in chemistry, medicine, and the biological sciences.

Nominations are coordinated by the institution. Please see the OVPR website for submission information.

Pilot Studies Using Community-Based Participatory Research to Address Cancer Health Inequity
Sponsor: American Cancer Society
Deadline: October 15, 2013
Funding: $100,000 for two years of study
RFA and application guidelines will be posted online July 1, 2013 at  

Visit the Funding Opportunities Web page to see listings previously published in Update. A list of organizations that provide funding for cancer research is also provided there.

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Postdoctoral Position Available

A postdoctoral position is immediately available in the Hackel lab to apply protein engineering to develop in vivo molecular imaging agents. In particular, we aim to advance the speed, robustness, and throughput of both discovery and maturation (affinity and stability) of binding ligands using small protein scaffolds. These ligands will be applied to our efforts in the molecular imaging of cancer as well as targeted drug delivery. We seek a motivated researcher with a Ph.D. in any related discipline. Experience in molecular biology, protein chemistry, or small animal imaging are beneficial. Please send a brief description of your career goals, your curriculum vitae, and contact information for three references to

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  • Last modified on July 2, 2013