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www.dfhcc.harvard.edu Winter 2007

In this Issue



New Faces

More on Cores

News and Events

Grant Updates

Save the Date

Research Highlights


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Feature Stories: Kidney Cancer

Circumventing angiogenic escape mechanisms in kidney cancer

Much like Houdini, who freed himself from handcuffs and shackles, tumors find clever routes of escape from VEGF receptor inhibitors, a new class of drugs heralded for prolonging the survival of patients with renal cell carcinoma (RCC), the most common kidney cancer. In recent months, a team of DF/HCC investigators has been studying these angiogenic escape mechanisms and searching for new therapies to circumvent them. [more]

  "X" marks the spot for new Wilms' tumor gene

When investigators went hunting for a gene implicated in Wilms' tumor - the most common pediatric kidney cancer - they found it in an unlikely spot. The new gene, called WTX, is the first tumor suppressor gene discovered on the X chromosome and, unlike other tumor suppressors, requires only a single damaging mutation or deletion to inactivate it. [more]


Brigham and Women's Hospital: Signature strengths advance cancer research


Brigham and Women's Hospital, renowned for excellence in patient care, research, and teaching, traces its roots in medicine back to 1832. Throughout its long history, the institution has achieved milestones in clinical, population, and basic research within the formal structure of individual departments. That research model is beginning to change. [more]

Q&A with Jeff Clark: Recent steps streamline clinical trials process

Clarke Jeffrey Clark's appointment as medical director of Clinical Trials Operations at DF/HCC became official about two months ago, but the helm is hardly new to him. For over a decade, Clark has guided investigators through the clinical trials process, and beginning last year, he helped pilot a comprehensive effort to enhance and streamline clinical trial review, activation, and monitoring.  [more]


New Faces


Since our last edition of eNews, the following members have assumed new DF/HCC leadership positions:

    David Kwiatkowski, MD, PhD (BWH), Leader, Cancer Genetics Program
    Nicholas Dyson, PhD (MGH), Co-Leader, Cancer Genetics Program
    Charles Stiles, PhD (DFCI), Co-Leader, Neuro-Oncology Program
    Paul Catalano, ScD (DFCI), Director, Biostatistics Core
    Hans-Olov Adami MD, PhD (HSPH), Associate Director, Population Science
    Howard Koh, MD, MPH (HSPH), Leader, Cancer Disparities Program
    A. Lindsay Frazier, MD, SM (HMS), Co-Leader, Cancer Risk Reduction Program
    Frank Kuo, MD, PhD (BWH), Director, Virtual Specimen Locator


Thirty-eight individuals from our seven member institutions have recently joined DF/HCC. Learn more about these scientists and their research interests.

More on Cores

Community Practice Core

Director: Larissa Nekhlyudov, MD, MPH

The Community Practice Core (CPC) offers DF/HCC investigators access to a clinical laboratory of over ten million patients within Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, and the HMO Cancer Research Network.  These large, diverse populations are ideal for studies in basic, clinical and population sciences; addressing topics in cancer screening, prevention, treatment and quality of care; as well as dissemination. The CPC provides DF/HCC investigators access to comprehensive computerized patient and provider data including medical records, pathology and radiology reports, tumor registry data, and offers support to members developing research proposals within these community practice settings. Learn more about the core's work with Karen Emmons, PhD (DFCI), and Stuart Schnitt, MD (BIDMC). [more]

Monoclonal Antibody

Directors: James DeCaprio, MD and Laura Corral, PhD

The Monoclonal Antibody Core produces novel monoclonal antibodies for use in basic research, drug discovery, and clinical applications including diagnosis, surrogate markers for disease status, response to therapy, and drug toxicity. Services include molecular cloning and scale-up of immunization antigens to purification of the resulting antibodies. Researchers can choose to have all of the phases of antibody production conducted by the core or perform particular steps in their own lab. Learn about the antibodies this core produced for William Hahn, MD, PhD (DFCI) and William Kaelin, MD (DFCI). [more]

Rodent Histopathology

Director: Thomas Benjamin, PhD
Pathologist: Roderick Bronson, DVM

The Rodent Histopathology Core provides technical, professional, and educational services on rodent pathology. The core offers high quality mouse dissection, tissue processing, histological slide preparation from paraffin embedded and frozen tissues, and expert interpretation of paraffin-embedded, hematoxylin, and eosin stained slides. Learn about the core's pathology work for Bruce Spiegelman, PhD (DFCI). [more]  

News and Events

DF/HCC offers multiple members-only funding opportunities

DF/HCC announces a new small grant program available year-round that will provide up to $5,000 for new seminars, meetings, symposia, or retreats designed to encourage interactions and collaborations among members and to stimulate the pursuit of new research themes.

Other year-round grants that are available from DF/HCC include:

Timely Special Opportunity Awards: Awards of up to $10,000 enhance the ability of program leaders and core directors to respond to new time-sensitive projects or opportunities that will contribute to their program or core. Projects might involve new technology development, the purchase of a piece of equipment not planned for in the annual budgeting process, or programmatic research opportunities of a timely nature.

New Minority Faculty Recruitment: Awards of up to $100,000 to provide partial funding for the recruitment of new faculty (new faculty must be eligible for DF/HCC membership) from under-represented racial/ethnic or disadvantaged backgrounds (URM) to a DF/HCC member institution.

Pilot Projects Program for Current URM Faculty: Awards of up to $75,000 to provide pilot project funding for existing DF/HCC URM faculty who are doing innovative cancer research.

For more information on these and other DF/HCC funding opportunities, visit the funding section of the DF/HCC website.

Grant Updates

Aster awarded Marshall A. Lichtman Specialized Center of Research Grant

DF/HCC Member Jon Aster, MD, PhD (BWH), has received one of three new Marshall A. Lichtman Specialized Center of Research (SCOR) grants awarded by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in 2007. Aster will receive $6.25m in total costs over five years. The SCOR, entitled "Targeting the Notch Pathway," consists of four projects:

    Targeting Extracellular Notch
    Stephen Blacklow, MD, PhD (BWH)

    Targeting Intracellular Notch
    James Bradner, MD (DFCI)

    Novel Notch Inhibitors and Enhancers
    Jon Aster, MD, PhD (BWH)

    Identifying the Leukemia Initiating Cell in T-ALL
    Warren Pear, MD, PhD

Four DF/HCC members receive NIH Director's New Innovator Award

Despite current constraints, the NIH continues to award funding to a number of DF/HCC research initiatives. Recently, these awards included four NIH Director's New Innovator Awards, which provide support to promising investigators who have yet to become PIs on an R01 or equivalent grant, or leaders of a P01 or center grant peer-reviewed project. The concept behind this new funding mechanism is that these individuals often have exceptionally innovative research ideas, but lack the required preliminary data to compete successfully in the traditional peer review system at this stage in their careers.

In total, the NIH awarded 29 Innovator Awards this year. Each awardee will receive approximately $2.5m in total costs over five years. The four DF/HCC recipients and their projects are:

    Defining Melanoma Therapeutic Avenues by Integrative Functional Genomics
    Levi Garraway, MD, PhD (DFCI)

    Revealing Pathogen-Sensing Pathways Using RNAi Libraries
    Nir Hacohen, PhD (MGH)

    Reprogramming of Somatic Cells by Defined Factors
    Konrad Hochedlinger, MSc, PhD (MGH)

    MicroRNA Biogenesis and the Cancer Proteome
    Mark Johnson, MD, PhD (BWH)

Save the Date

Cancer Prevention Dialogue Series: Otis Brawley, MD, Chief Medical Officer of the American Cancer Society


On January 16, Otis Brawley, MD, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society and a renowned leader in the field of health disparities research, will be speaking to the Harvard community on disparities-related issues such as cancer outcomes and how to equalize treatment differences. The lecture will be held at the Harvard School of Public Health, Kresge 502, and is sponsored by the DF/HCC Cancer Disparities Program. [more]

DF/HCC eNews
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