Masonic Cancer Center

A comprehensive cancer center designated by the National Cancer Institute

Masonic Cancer Center Update Newsletter


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Update is an official newsletter of the Masonic Cancer Center for faculty, members, staff, colleagues, and friends.All submissions for the next issue must be sent to, by noon on Friday for publication the following Monday.

NOTE: Update will be published bi-weekly over the summer and will resume regular weekly publication on Monday, 9/14/15.

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May 26, 2015

In This Issue

Director's Message


Clinical Trials

Professional Education


Funding Announcements and Opportunities

Director's Message

Dear colleagues,

Heather Nelson, M.P.H., Ph.D., Associate Professor, Epidemiology and Community Health, Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, has accepted the position of program co-leader of the Prevention and Etiology Program as of June 1, 2015. DeAnn Lazovich, Ph.D. is stepping down from her role as co-leader of that program which she jointly led with Anne Joseph, M.D., M.P.H. Dr. Lazovich will continue to contribute to the mission of the cancer center by continuing her personal research and leading the nascent TWG in cutaneous oncology. Dr. Lazovich will also continue to represent the Masonic Cancer Center on the Steering and Policy committees of the Minnesota Cancer Alliance. Dr. Joseph will continue to co-lead the Prevention and Etiology Program. Dr. Lazovich has guided her program through two successful Cancer Center Support Grant renewals. During our last review, her program was the highest rated of all MCC programs.

Dr. Nelson received her MPH from the University of Minnesota and a PhD in Cancer Biology from Harvard University. She is a Tenured Associate Professor in the School of Public Health and has a longstanding interest in cancer etiology, and the intersection of environmental exposures, genetics, and epigenetics in increasing cancer susceptibility. Her recent work has focused on inter-individual variation in immunity in cancer risk and outcome. Specific cancers of interest include skin cancer, leukemia, head and neck cancer, and lung cancer. Dr. Nelson joined the cancer center in April 2007.

Douglas Yee, M.D.


Members in the news

A South China Morning Poststory about a new weapon against obesity, Chinese thunder god, mentioned research conducted at the Masonic Cancer Center showing its effectiveness against pancreatic cancer.


Angela Panoskaltsis-Mortari, Ph.D.,Transplant Biology and Therapy Program, was featured in Star Tribune, and KARE 11 stories about her lab’s use of one of the first 'bioprinters' using living tissue.
John Wagner, M.D., co-leader of the Transplant Biology and Therapy Program, is mentioned in a WCCO story about a child awaiting a bone marrow transplant at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.


DeAnn Lazovich, Ph.D., Prevention and Etiology Program, debunks indoor tanning myths in Health Talk.

ACS IRG Committee announces research project awards, next application deadline
The Masonic Cancer Center's American Cancer Society Institutional Research Grant (ACS IRG) Committee has completed its review of the applications received from the past submission deadline and awarded the following research project:

Cheuk T. Leung, Ph.D., “Cell cycle control in latent breast preneoplastic cells”

The ACS IRG award is $30,000 in direct costs to support the initiation of promising cancer-related research projects by assistant professors. The next application deadline is Monday, October 19, 2015. Instructions and application forms are available by contacting Sue Fautsch or phone: 612-625-6955.


Congratulations to Reuben Harris, Ph.D., Genetic Mechanisms of Cancer Program, on his selection by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) as one of 26 HHMI investigators, out of a pool of 894 applicants, based on scientific excellence. Read more.

The following graduate students have recently been awarded Predoctoral fellowship positions on the Cancer Biology Training Grant:

  • Christian Njatcha, Siegfried lab, Pharmacology Graduate Program
  • Wendy Leung, Bielinsky lab, BMBB Graduate Program
  • Amanda Oliveira Salzwedel, Yamamoto lab, Pharmacology Graduate Program
  • Katelyn Paz, Blazar lab, MCDB&G Graduate Program

Kudos to Bin He, Ph.D., Tumor Microenvironment Program, who received the Academic Career Achievement Award from the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS), which is one of the largest bioengineering societies in the world.

Member receives grant
Chengguo (Chris) Xing, Ph.D., Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Program, received a five-year, $1,738,500 R01 for his study “Dihydromethysticin (DHM) for Lung Cancer Chemoprevention.” The grant continues Xing’s work studying the use of kava to prevent lung cancer.

Members in the journals
The laboratory of Timothy Starr, Ph.D., Genetic Mechanisms of Cancer Program, recently reported the discovery of 76 lung cancer driver genes which could be therapeutic targets for treatment. The research was published in Molecular Cancer Research.

Feedback on human subjects research protection plan draft due by June 1
The University of Minnesota has released a draft work plan to strengthen the Institutional Review Board and the protection of human subjects last week. The report is available on the web. Medical School Dean and VP of Health Sciences Brooks Jackson, M.D. is encouraging feedback, which can be emailed to

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Clinical Trials

The following clinical trials conducted by Masonic Cancer Center members were recently opened:


A Phase 1, multicenter, open-label, dose escalation and expansion study to evaluate the safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics of MEDI0639 as a single-agent or in combination therapy in adult subject with advanced solid tumors, including small-cell lung cancer
PI: Patel, Manish

HM2014-24: An open-label phase 2 prospective, randomized, controlled study of CLT-008 myeloid progenitor cells as a supportive care measure during induction chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia
PI: Ustun, Celalettin

For more information on clinical trials contact Marva Bohen, R.N., B.S.N. (,  612-624-2620).

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Professional Education

May 26, 2015: Breast Cancer Journal Club
10-11 a.m., 3-224 CCRB
Tarah Regan Anderson will discuss "Tumor-derived osteopontin reprograms normal mammary fibroblasts to promote inflammation and tumor growth in breast cancer" by Sharon et al in Cancer Res. 2015 Mar 15;75(6):963-73.

June 2, 2015: Program in Health Disparities Monthly Meeting
1-2 p.m., (A light lunch will be served at 12:50.), room 105, 717 Delaware
Colorectal cancer and African American men: What's masculinity, racism, and social support got to do with it?

RSVP and agenda items to

June 4, 2015: 6th Annual Dr. Roger Potish Memorial Lectureship
6:30-7:30 p.m. (Buffet will be served at 5:30 p.m.), The Commons Hotel, 615 Washington Ave. SE, Minneapolis
Management of regional nodes in breast cancer: A source of needless morbidity or a
necessary evil?
Benjamin D. Smith, M.D., Department of Radiation Oncology, Division of Radiation Oncology,
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Contact Maria Taracido, 612-624-6433 to register or visit the website.

June 8, 2015: Precision Medicine Symposium
8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., McNamara Alumni Center
The Precision Medicine and Health Consortium (PMHC) invites all faculty and invited graduate students to participate in a full-day symposium on Precision Medicine. The program is jointly sponsored by PMHC, the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute (MSI), The Academic Health Center (AHC), the Department of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology in the College of Pharmacy, and the Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment & the Life Sciences. This symposium features lead informatics experts from the pharmaceutical industry, Vanderbilt’s Medical Informatics team, and University of Minnesota researchers and practitioners in Precision Medicine.

June 8, 2015: Department of Radiology Grand Rounds
5 p.m., Leo Rigler Conference Room, May B-216
Images are data, not pictures: Radiomics of cancers
Robert Gillies, M.D., Moffitt Cancer Center, Vice-chair of Radiology, Director, Experimental Imaging Program

June 9, 2015: The University of Minnesota NIH Research Evaluation and Commercialization Hub (MN-REACH)
9-10 a.m., 1-125 CCRB
Vadim J. Gurvich, Ph.D., M.B.A., Associate Director, Institute for Therapeutics Discovery & Development (ITDD), Research Associate Professor, Department of Medicinal Chemistry
Charles C. Muscoplat, Ph.D., Professor of Food Science and Nutrition and Medicine

June 15, 2015: Save the Date! The Inaugural Goodale Memorial Symposium in Pancreatic Cancer
10 a.m.-4 p.m.
In honor of Dr. Robert Goodale and his unwavering support of research at the University of Minnesota. There will be a number of internal and external speakers throughout the day.

Sponsored by the Department of Surgery

June 24, 2015: 24th Annual Mark E. Nesbit Lectureship in Pediatric Oncology
12:15 p.m., Conference Center, University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital
Speaker: David Malkin, M.D., Senior Staff Oncologist in Hematology/Oncology at The Hospital for Sick Children, Director, Cancer Genetics Program, Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Toronto

October 29-November 1, 2015: 17th Annual Lynn Sage Breast  Cancer Symposium
Fairmont Chicago, Millenium Park
Registration is now open.  Visit the website for more information.

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

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May 30, 2015: Break the Bank for Kidney Cancer
TCF Bank Stadium: Race check-in 15-45 minutes prior to heat near Minnesota Tribal Nations Plaza, (West end of the stadium).
Racing climbers and Burly Bank climbers start at 7 a.m. Participant climbers start at 9 a.m. 

Break the Bank- Climb 4 Kidney Cancer, is a professionally managed event with a chip-timed race early in the morning, and a non-competitive fun climb. Children under the age of 10 are welcome to climb with adult supervision, but are not allowed in the race portion of the climb.

View a video with Coach Jerry Kill.
Visit the website for more information and to register.

June 20, 2015: 13th Annual Time to Fly ® Walk/Run
Phalen Park, St. Paul

Visit the Community Events and Outreach page for more information.

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Funding Announcements and Opportunities

​​MN Reach Funding Opportunity
MN-REACH is a joint effort between the University of Minnesota and the National Institute of Health. The MN-REACH Hubs will provide the initial investment and resources to nurture innovators to develop high priority technologies within the NIH's mission.
Funding: $10K-$150K per project
Key Dates:  Pre-proposal Due: June 8

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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  • Last modified on May 26, 2015