UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

Video Blogs

August 2018 — New postdoctoral training program at Hillman

We at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center are pleased to announce a new and exciting postdoctoral training opportunity. Made possible by a generous donation from Henry L. Hillman Foundation, the Hillman Postdoctoral Fellows for Innovative Cancer Research program seeks the nation’s top graduate students and early-stage postdoctoral fellows to pursue cutting edge cancer research.

This very competitive program will provide fellows with a stipend (20% above the current NIH level) and a generous career development fund. Fellows will choose their mentors from nearly 70 nationally and internationally known faculty whose research spans seven thematic areas: biobehavioral oncology, cancer biology, cancer epidemiology and prevention, cancer immunology and immunotherapy, cancer therapeutics, cancer virology, and genome stability.

The University of Pittsburgh is a world-class research institution that currently ranks in the top five in the nation for NIH funding and the city of Pittsburgh is recognized for its livability and culture. Pittsburgh offers many vibrant neighborhoods with affordable housing, award-winning cuisine, and interesting cultural events, and was recently rated as the second-best city for millennials.

The application deadline for this program is August 31, 2018. Please see the website www.UPMCHillman.com/PostdoctoralFellowship for details on how to apply.

Watch Dr. Christopher Bakkenist, the Associate Director of Education and Training for UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, describe this new program in the video below:

July 2018 — Hillman Researcher shows that the proapoptotic protein PUMA also enhances necroptosis

Multiple classes of chemotherapeutic drugs work by inducing cancer cell death, but these drugs are often ineffective in treating cancer patients. Dr. Lin Zhang, Professor of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology, seeks to improve treatment outcome by studying the mechanisms underlying both drug-mediated cytotoxicity and cancer cell resistance to these drugs.

The Zhang laboratory is particularly interested in PUMA (p53 upregulated modulator of apoptosis), a protein upregulated by multiple anticancer drugs that promotes programmed cell death, otherwise known as apoptosis. In a paper recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they showed that PUMA also plays a key role in enhancing necroptosis, a type of programmed necrotic cell death associated with inflammation. In their study, stimulation of necroptosis in cancer cells led to upregulated PUMA expression, triggering release of mitochondrial DNA into the cytosol and further necroptotic cell death in a positive feedback loop. Unlike apoptosis, necroptosis engages the immune system to eliminate dead cell debris. Thus, PUMA has the potential to both amplify the death signal and to promote cancer immunity. Dr. Zhang hopes to build upon this work to improve cancer therapy and develop PUMA as a biomarker for treatment response.

Watch Dr. Zhang discuss his research in the video.

March 2018 — Clinical Trials at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

Basic and translational researchers at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center work closely with physician-scientists and clinicians to quickly move the most promising research results from their labs into clinical trials. While the conduct of clinical studies provides critical information to researchers that can be taken back to the lab for further study and improvement, they also provide patients with early access to the most cutting-edge and innovative cancer treatments available.

Watch Edward Chu, MD, Deputy Director of UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, Chief of Hematology-Oncology, and Co-Leader of the Hillman Cancer Therapeutics Program, discuss how clinical trials are advancing the way cancer patients are treated.