UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

April 2010

Only through research will we eventually conquer cancer. All of the most effective cancer treatments we have today, from surgical techniques to state of the art radiation to a variety of drug therapies, began in the laboratories and offices of researchers and physicians willing to dedicate their lives to the study of cancer — how it develops, why it spreads, what makes it grow and what makes it die. A National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Institute like the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute is defined by its ability to undertake basic, clinical, and translational research. This month I am proud to recognize and celebrate several such endeavors at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

Photo of  Breast Cancer Coalition Event at UPCIOn April 13, 2010, two UPCI breast cancer researchers will receive $50,000 grants from the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition to support new investigations into breast cancer. Both recipients, Richard Steinman, MD, PhD and Hannah Rabinowich, MD are well-established researchers who want to tackle new ways to study the disease. While they have each received far larger grants in the past, these new grants are special because they will support new ideas and new research, both of which are sorely needed in our continued desire to understand breast cancer. These types of funds for research and development are absolutely vital and are the fruits of an innovative public-private partnership where any Pennsylvania resident can donate all or part of their state income tax refund to breast and cervical cancer research.

From April 17 through April 22, 2010, physicians and researchers from UPCI and UPMC CancerCenter will descend on Washington, DC to attend the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), an international meeting of over 15,000 cancer researchers. Members of our UPCI team will give over fifty presentations about our work. Photo of Dr. GrandisThey will participate in symposia, oral discussions and poster presentations, showcasing our studies on a wide variety of topics, from the identification of potential new biomarkers for ovarian cancer, to the complexities surrounding DNA repair, to links between viruses and cancer. We can't talk specifically about presentations until after the conference, but I encourage you to return to this site throughout the conference for press highlights and then for an event wrap-up where we will discuss the meeting in more detail. While we are in Washington, DC we will celebrate the election of our surgeon-scientist colleague, Jennifer Grandis, MD, professor of otolaryngology and pharmacology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, to a three-year term as a member of the Board of Directors of AACR. One of only four individuals from around the world elected to this prestigious position this year, Dr. Grandis will take a lead in charting the future of the AACR as well as our own UPCI, all working together in our collective mission against cancer. We are proud that one of our own has taken on this challenge!

We will also be watching the activities of the annual meeting of the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons with pride as it is held in Pittsburgh this year from April 18-20, 2010. For this honor we thank Sally Carty, MD a nationally renowned endocrine surgeon and thyroid cancer researcher and active leader with the association.

And on the international scene, on April 26, 2010, two of our surgeon/scientists specializing in pancreatic cancer will talk about their work at an international conference in Argentina. Herbert Zeh, MD, and James Moser, MD will discuss our latest results on the performance of a complex surgery for pancreatic cancer, the Whipple procedure, using a robotic approach to minimize side effects of surgery.

These are just a few examples of the way that research is thriving at UPCI. I'm proud to work with such a fabulous team of passionate and innovative scientists and clinicians. From the bench to the bedside to the community, we are committed to prevention, early detection and treatment for all types of cancers. Cancer is an all-encompassing term for so many different types of the disease, but fortunately we have an equally diverse group of researchers who are determined to understand and control cancer in all of its varied forms because we know that good science ultimately translates into good medicine.