University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI)

Archived Announcements

February 2015 - UPCI Mourns the Loss of Dr. Jules Heisler, Founding UPCI Administrative Director

Dr. Jules Heisler, 67, passed away at his home in Durham, NC on January 18, 2015 after a nine month battle with lung cancer. Ironically, Jules spent most of his professional career battling cancer in a different way. He began his career as a consultant to the National Cancer Institute. He then went on to work for several academic cancer centers, including at the University of Kentucky, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh, and Duke University. He spent 18 years at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, where he was the founding Administrative Director. In that role, he helped build UPCI from its inception into a nationally recognized institution of cancer care and research. In 2006, Jules and his wife Doris relocated to Durham, North Carolina to be closer to his two granddaughters and to enjoy the warmer temperatures of the south. Those warmer temperatures allowed him to pursue, year round, one of his favorite pastimes – golf. Jules spent many sunny days on various North Carolina golf courses, perfecting his game and enjoying the company of friends. At various other times in his life, Jules was also an avid tennis player and runner. In fact, he completed several marathons, including the Pittsburgh Marathon. After retiring, Jules and his wife also enjoyed traveling with friends. They visited China, the south of France, and made repeated trips to Aruba and Spain.

Jules truly embodied the American dream. His parents were survivors of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Jules was born in a displaced persons camp in Germany after the war. He and his parents came to the United States when he was four years old. He grew up in the Bronx, New York with little money and few resources. However, his quick intellect, drive and irreverence gave him the tools to succeed. He earned a bachelor's degree from the City College of New York, an MBA from the Bernard M. Baruch College, and a PhD in Higher Education Administration from the University of Kentucky. From there, his career and his many successes took off.

Jules is survived by his wife of 47 years, Doris, his daughters, Jennifer and Stacey, his granddaughters, Anna and Katie, his sons-in-law, Matt and Roy, and his brother, Peter. The family requests that, if desired, donations be made to the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, the University of North Carolina Lineberger Cancer Center, or the Markey Cancer Foundation at the University of Kentucky. Donations can be marked for patient and family support or for lung cancer research.

September 2014 - Research Tour: Free to Breathe Advocacy Summit Group Visits UPCI Lung Cancer Research Labs

Members of the Free To Breathe Advocacy Summit Group will be touring the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) and the Lung Cancer Program laboratories to learn more about the approaches to prevention, diagnosis and treatment that researchers use to study lung cancer.

Dr. Nancy Davidson, Dr. Mark Socinski and Dr. Timothy Burns will welcome about 70 members of the group Free to Breathe on Friday, September 19 from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Free to Breathe is an organization dedicated to funding lung cancer research, ensuring patients have access to clinical trials and advocating for the latest treatments for lung cancer patients. The group is made up of doctors, patients, caregivers and other advocates whose goal is to double lung cancer survival by the year 2022.

The goals of the UPCI Lung Cancer Program are to define molecular pathways that contribute to the development and progression of lung and thoracic malignancies; improve therapy for thoracic cancers; identify individuals at high risk for thoracic cancer to improve early detection; and conduct clinical research studies in thoracic cancers.

August 2014 - UPCI is Awarded Two New T32 Training Grants from the National Institutes of Health

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Training Grants support pre-doctoral, post-doctoral, and short-term research training experiences in specified areas of biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research. UPCI investigators were recently awarded two new T32 training grants to support pre-doctoral and post-doctoral fellows in cancer-related research disciplines.

John M. Kirkwood, MD, Co-Leader of the UPCI Melanoma Program, directs the new Training Program in Skin Biology and Cancer (T32CA175294), which provides state-of-the-art interdisciplinary basic research training for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who seek a career in the strongly interwoven skin biology/skin cancer field. Specifically, this training program offers pre- and post-doctoral fellows a unique opportunity to obtain by way of molecular, immunologic, and bioengineering studies, important scientific insights into the biology of skin regeneration, inherited skin disorders, and skin cancer. Co-leaders of the T32 are Alan Wells, MD, DMSc, and Lisa Butterfield, PhD. Applicants may contact Victoria Alisasis by email at alisasisva@upmc.edu or by phone at 412-623-7708 to learn more about the program.

Jian-Min Yuan, MD, PhD, Co-Leader of the UPCI Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Program, and Lesley Butler, MSPH, PhD co-direct the new Translational Research Training in Cancer Etiology and Prevention Program (T32CA186873). This program is focused on improving cancer prevention and control by translating novel discoveries from observational studies and laboratory experiments to interventional trials in clinical and community settings. Post-doctoral fellows supported through this mechanism will be trained in understanding the role of environmental exposures and genetic and other physiological factors in the development and progression of cancer in humans. They will complete cross-disciplinary coursework in the areas of translational, observational, and interventional research and clinical trials, and will gain hands-on experience through mentored research projects. The Program Steering Committee will use the following criteria to evaluate applicants: career interests in cancer etiology and prevention research compatible with faculty interest and expertise; positive letters of recommendation; an outstanding academic record; prior publication record and other evidence of a commitment to a likely successful career in research; the ability to recognize important research problems and a demonstrated capacity to seek solutions; intellectual integrity; and enthusiasm. One of the most important criteria for acceptance will be the candidate's clear career plans and potential for independent research in an academic setting. For further information, contact Brooke Spencer, T32 Program Administrator, at spencerbd@upmc.edu or 412-864-7861.

These two recently funded T32s add to the growing list of current UPCI training grant opportunities.

July 2014 - University of Pittsburgh Mitochondria, Aging and Metabolism Work Group: Request for Pilot Proposals

The objective of the Mitochondria, Aging and Metabolism (MAM) work group is to promote the exchange of knowledge, tools, and techniques in the areas of mitochondria, aging, and metabolism. As innovative lines of investigation emerge through an increased communication of our community members, there is a fundamental need for funds dedicated to supporting the exploration of these novel research directions. To this end, through generous funding provided from UPMC, the MAM work group has established a pilot grant program in support of highly innovative, team-based, transdisciplinary, and translational science at the University of Pittsburgh.

February 2014 - Save the Date: The 26th Annual UPCI Scientific Retreat

The 26th annual UPCI Scientific Retreat will be held at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg on June 19-20, 2014. Registration and poster abstract submission will open in May. Stay tuned for further announcements on the UPCI website.



January 2014 - Online ordering and scheduling for 3 UPCI Shared Resources is now available through iLab Solutions

A new web-based tool is now available for online ordering of products and services, and/or scheduling of equipment, for 3 of our UPCI Shared Resources. Namely, the Cytometry Facility, Lentiviral Laboratory (part of the Vector Facility), and Luminex Core Laboratory (part of the Cancer Biomarkers Facility), are now accepting orders and scheduling equipment through iLab Solutions.

There are many benefits to this new system, including the following:

  1. Log in credentials are identical to your regular Pitt username/password.
  2. Once your iLab account is set up, user information is saved in the system and can be applied across all UPCI Shared Resources within iLab.
  3. PIs can set permission levels for each lab member, i.e., so that they can only place orders with certain account numbers, with limited spending thresholds, etc.
  4. PIs can choose to receive alerts when a lab member places an order or schedules a service.
  5. Easier usage tracking and reporting for our Shared Resource Directors and UPCI administrators.

Click here to learn more about setting up your iLab account.

Click here to learn more about iLab Solutions.



March 2013 - Save the Date: The 25th Annual UPCI Scientific Retreat

The 25th annual UPCI Scientific Retreat will be held at the Petersen Events Center on June 14, 2013. Registration and poster abstract submission will open in May. Stay tuned for further announcements on the UPCI website.

September 2012 - New Small Animal PET/CT Imaging Suite Now Open at the Hillman

A brand new Siemens Inveon small animal PET/CT imager is now available for use in the recently renovated, multi-modality small animal imaging suite located behind the barrier of the UPCI Animal Facility at the Hillman Cancer Center. The expansion project to incorporate the new machine as well as a state-of-the-art radiochemistry laboratory was completed in September, offering the research community sophisticated PET/CT capabilities that complement the optical, ultrasound, and MR imaging instrumentation located in the same laboratory. These preclinical imaging resources, offered through the UPCI In Vivo Imaging Facility, are highly valuable for studying cancer biology and determining cancer therapy effectiveness. In addition, results can be rapidly translated into clinical applications.

To learn more about utilizing small animal PET/CT in your research, contact Dr. Carolyn Anderson.

Hillman's Small Animal PET/CT Imaging Suite

Hillman's Small Animal PET/CT Imaging Suite

August 2012 - New “Center for Bone Biology” forming at UPCI

Deborah L. Galson, PhD would like to invite you to become involved with the new Center for Bone Biology. The aim of this Center is to bring together researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, and Duquesne University who are interested in any and all aspects of bone biology. The center has several purposes:

  1. to help investigators locate resources around Pittsburgh and to develop fruitful collaborations;
  2. to serve as a resource for researchers who find their work wandering unexpectedly into the field of bone biology; and
  3. to showcase the extensive bone-related research that is being conducted here in Pittsburgh.

Content for the Center's developing website (a future component of UPCI's website) may include such resources as:

  1. a list of members with links to their labs/centers;
  2. a schedule of bone-related seminars sponsored by the Center for Bone Biology and others in the area;
  3. individual member resources that might be beneficial to others/shared with collaborators, including instrumentation, technical expertise, and mice models; and
  4. information regarding bone cell and/or bone analyses methods.

If interested in becoming a member of the Center for Bone Biology, you are invited to participate in an organizational meeting being held on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 4pm in the Hillman Cancer Center 2nd Floor Conference Room, with the following goals:

  1. establish a seminar series and determine how it will be structured, where it will be held, and how often;
  2. gather ideas of what content should be included on the website;
  3. brainstorm about additional activities that would contribute to the overall aims of the Center; and
  4. create a governing structure.

If you are unable to attend but have suggestions/concepts, etc. that you would like to have discussed at the meeting, please email them to Dr. Deborah Galson.

April 2012 – Construction Begins to Expand Small Animal Imaging Capabilities at the Hillman

Siemens InveonRenovations are underway to expand the multi-modality small animal imaging suite located behind the barrier of the UPCI Animal Facility at the Hillman Cancer Center. Installation of a new Siemens Inveon small animal PET/CT imager will complement the optical, ultrasound, and MR imaging instrumentation located in the same laboratory, enabling investigators to longitudinally image the same mice with multiple modalities. These preclinical imaging capabilities, offered through the UPCI In Vivo Imaging Facility, are highly valuable for studying cancer biology and determining cancer therapy effectiveness. In addition, results can be rapidly translated into clinical applications. Dr. Carolyn Anderson, an expert in the development of novel PET imaging agents that target cancer and cancer metastasis, will lead the small animal PET/CT efforts once installation of the Inveon is complete in summer 2012.

Learn more about small animal PET/CT and other imaging services offered by the UPCI In Vivo Imaging Facility.

March 2012 – Save the Date: The 24th Annual UPCI Scientific Retreat

The 24th annual UPCI Scientific Retreat will be held at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg on June 21-22, 2012. Registration and poster abstract submission will open in May. Stay tuned for further announcements on the UPCI website.

January 2012 – New Fortessa Flow Cytometer is Ready for Use at the UPCI Cytometry Facility

Fortessa Flow CytometerThe Fortessa is a four laser flow cytometer capable of detecting up to 13 distinct fluorochromes simultaneously. Along with traditional forward and side scatter, the Fortessa is equipped with a PMT dedicated to detection of forward scatter, making the Fortessa ideal for microparticle detection.

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