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Massey shines at international cancer research conference in New Orleans

Apr 14, 2022

Jose Trevino, M.D.

VCU Massey Cancer Center reached an international audience during the recent American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The conference highlights the work of the best minds in cancer research from institutions all over the world, and a wide array of Massey’s cutting-edge scientific findings and achievements were on display.

Robert A. Winn, M.D., director and Lipman Chair in Oncology at VCU Massey Cancer Center, received two national honors for his contributions to increase diversity in the field of cancer research.

On April 10, the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation, together with its partners, National Medical Fellowships and the AACR, announced a new name for the $100 million, five-year initiative they launched in 2020 to increase diversity in clinical trials: The Robert A. Winn Diversity in Clinical Trials Award Program

Additionally, Winn was honored with the AACR-Minorities in Cancer Research Jane Cooke Wright Lectureship. This lectureship recognizes an outstanding scientist who has made meritorious contributions to the field of cancer research and who has — through leadership or by example — furthered the advancement of minority investigators in cancer research.

“While I appreciate that my lifelong commitment to the pursuit of equity had a few moments in the spotlight, I could not be prouder of the many accomplishments of our Massey team at AACR,” Winn said.

Tossas named NextGen Star by the AACR

Katherine Tossas, Ph.D. at AACR

Massey researcher and director of catchment area data alignment Katherine Tossas, Ph.D., was named as a NextGen Star prior to the AACR Annual Meeting 2022. The NextGen Stars program provides an exciting opportunity to increase the visibility of early-career scientists at the AACR Annual Meeting and to support the professional development and advancement of those selected as NextGen Stars. Tossas delivered a presentation at the conference titled The Vaginal Microbiome May Operate Differently By Race to Precipitate the Risk of Pre-Cervical Cancer.

Trevino co-chairs series on professional advancement in cancer research

Trevino, M.D. at AACR

On Sunday, Massey surgeon-in-chief Jose Trevino, M.D., co-chaired a professional advancement series talk at the AACR's Annual Meeting 2022 titled How to Design a Successful Career Path in Cancer Research: The Do's and Dont's for Early-Stage Investigators. "It's the passion you have, the love you have for what you're doing," Trevino said of what leads a young investigator to success in the field of cancer research.

Winn chairs session on advances in population sciences

Dr. Winn

Massey director Robert A. Winn, M.D., chaired a session on advances in population sciences titled Where You Live Matters — From Biological to Social Determinants of Cancer Outcomes. "You can't talk about cancer without talking about place and space," Winn said.

Sheppard presents on breast cancer disparities

Vanessa Sheppard, Ph.D.

Vanessa Sheppard, Ph.D., associate director for community outreach engagement and health disparities at Massey, presented on breast cancer disparities among African American women. "Discrimination can influence how care is delivered," Sheppard said during her session titled 'Structure and stress: An examination of discrimination and health outcomes in breast cancer survivors.'

Tossas offers guidance for early career investigators

Katherine Tossas, Ph.D.

During a panel discussion titled Don't Be Afraid to Ask For Help, Massey researcher and director of catchment area data alignment Katherine Tossas, Ph.D., shared her insight with early career cancer investigators. “Asking for help is one challenge. Allowing yourself to receive help is another. Before you need it, look around. Who can I grow with?" Tossas said.

Trevino speaks during awards ceremony for minority faculty

Jose Trevino, M.D.

Massey surgeon-in-chief Jose Trevino, M.D., was a featured speaker during the AACR's Minority and Minority-serving Institution Faculty Scholar in Cancer Research Awards. The purposes of this award program are to increase the scientific knowledge base of minority faculty members and faculty members at minority-serving institutions, and to encourage them and their students to pursue careers in cancer research. "When someone tells you that you cannot do something, take that next step to make sure you do it. That should encourage you to work even harder," Trevino said.

Sun studies how endosomes control cellular functions

Yue Sun, Ph.D.

Endosomes are major protein-sorting stations in cells. Massey researcher Yue Sun, Ph.D., presented his research on how endosomal type Igamma PIP 5-kinase controls endosome maturation, lysosome function and autophagy by modulating the Rab7a gene.

Floros highlights neuroblastoma research findings

Konstantinos Floros, Ph.D.

Massey postdoctoral fellow Konstantinos Floros, Ph.D., presented on his study that found MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma is addicted to iron and vulnerable to ferroptosis, a form of cell death that is partly triggered by iron. Floros collaborated on this study with Massey researchers Ashley Cowart, Ph.D., Mikhail Dozmorov, Ph.D., Anthony Faber, Ph.D., and Jennifer Koblinski, Ph.D.

Oduah identifies therapeutic potential in lung cancer

Eziafa Oduah, M.D., M.P.H.

Mutations in the TP53 gene are present in over 50% of all cancers. Massey hematology-oncology fellow Eziafa Oduah, M.D., M.P.H., presented her research findings suggesting that proteasome inhibitors warrant closer attention for therapeutic targeting of gain-of-function mutant p53 in lung cancer. Oduah collaborated on this study with Massey researcher Larisa Litovchick, M.D., Ph.D., and former Massey deputy director Steven Grossman, M.D., Ph.D.

Willard studies the effects of COVID-19 on cancer patients

Patrick Willard, D.O.

COVID-19 has significantly impacted the care and prognosis of patients with preexisting acute and chronic conditions, including cancer. Patrick Willard, D.O., internal medicine resident physician at VCU, studied the inpatient risk of mortality among cancer patients with COVID-19, and he found that there was no significant difference in mortality between different types of cancer, therapy use or vaccination status. Willard collaborated on this study with Massey researchers Dipankar Bandyopadhyay, Ph.D., and Victor Yazbeck, M.D.

Scientists examine trends in cancer survival by Hispanic ethnicity

Jose Trevino, M.D. and Andrea Riner, M.D., M.P.H.

Hispanic patients in the U.S. tend to have lower incidence and mortality among many cancers, yet aggregated data do not reflect cultural and ancestral diversity of Hispanic patients. Massey surgeon-in-chief Jose Trevino, M.D., and Andrea Riner, M.D., M.P.H., of UF Health, presented their findings on survival trends for common cancers based on disaggregated Hispanic ethnicity.

Manna presents on genetic regulators of liver cancer

Debashri Manna, Ph.D.

Massey postdoctoral fellow Debashri Manna, Ph.D., presented the findings of her research titled "Melanoma Differentiation Associated Gene-9/Syndecan Binding Protein (MDA-9/SDCBP): A Positive Regulator of Hepatocellular Carcinoma." Manna collaborated on this study with Massey researchers Mikhail Dozmorov, Ph.D., Jennifer Koblinski, Ph.D., Rebecca Martin, Ph.D., Devanand Sarkar, Ph.D., and Jolene Windle, Ph.D.

Researchers study genetic signaling in colorectal cancer

Massey researchers

Massey researcher Jiong Li, Ph.D., and Ph.D. candidate Rosalie Hoyle presented their research findings titled "Naphthoquinone Analogues Inhibit Wnt/B-care in Signaling and Colorectal Cancer Tumorigenesis."

Raman studies precancerous cervical lesions in Asian women

Shreya Raman, M.D.

Shreya Raman, M.D. candidate at the VCU School of Medicine, presented her research findings that Asian women demonstrated a higher prevalence of precancerous cervical lesions despite having lower rates of HPV, HIV and BCV. Raman collaborated on this study with Massey researchers Stephanie Sullivan, M.D., and Katherine Tossas, Ph.D.

O'Hara induces anticancer activity by targeting growth factor receptors

Connor O'Hara, Ph.D.

Connor O'Hara, Ph.D. candidate at the VCU School of Pharmacy, presented the findings of his research titled "Synthetic, small molecule glycosaminoglycan mimetics induce novel anti-cancer activity through preferential targeting of a growth factor receptor." O'Hara collaborated on this study with Massey researcher Bhaumik Patel, M.D.

Massey experts discuss diversity and equity in cancer research

Massey experts

During the AACR Annual Meeting 2022, Massey public relations specialist Amy Lacey had a chance to sit down with Massey researcher Emmanuel Taylor, Dr. P.H., and Tremayne Robertson, the director of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at Massey, to discuss the importance of DEI in cancer research. The full interview will be posted soon on Massey's website and social media channels.

Written by: Massey Communications

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