Research at the Breast Center at Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU
The Breast Center at Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU is involved with many research studies conducted by our researchers as well as studies conducted at the hospitals within the Medical District: Memorial Medical Center and St. John’s Hospital. SIU is a partner in the Central Illinois Community Clinical Oncology Program (CICCOP) studies. Many of the studies are nationally recognized. Research is funded by many sources. They include the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Army, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Susan G. Komen Foundation, Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and other private foundations.
Breast Cancer Research: Cellular Research and Beyond
As part of its development, the Breast Center at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield has successfully recruited new research faculty members to join current faculty and bolster the amount of cancer research being done locally. The SIU researchers are studying a variety of cancers and concentrating on translational research which can be moved more quickly from the research laboratory to the patient’s bedside.
SIU researchers have several million dollars available for breast cancer research. Some of the funding is available over the course of several years to facilitate progression of successful research. Other grant funds are available for a limited period of time and may be considered “seed” money used to begin the initial phase of a research project.
Here are some examples of cancer research related to breast cancer, which may lead to the development of new therapies, that are currently underway at SIU School of Medicine --
- Daotai Nie, Ph.D., assistant professor of medical microbiology, immunology and cell biology and a member of the SCI research team, is the principal investigator for two breast cancer studies. Funding for the research was granted from the Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health through the National Cancer Institute. The largest study will examine if the movement of breast cancer cells to other parts of the body can be blocked which would decrease or prevent metastasis. The second research project examines multidrug resistance in breast cancer and is seeking to identify cell factors that contribute to the development of drug resistance. Dr. Yakun Chen is assisting with the second research project.
- Sophia Ran, Ph.D., assistant professor of medical microbiology, immunology and cell biology and member of the SCI research team, is the principal investigator for several research projects associated with VEGF-A. This research is aimed at finding a mechanism to block production of blood vessels that feed new cancers or metastasizing tumors. She has two research projects evaluating metastatic triple negative breast cancers. Funding for the research projects is provided by the National Institute of Health/National Cancer Institute, William E. McElroy Charitable Foundation and Abraxis Bioscience LLC.
- Kounosuke Watabe, Ph.D., professor of medical microbiology, immunology and cell biology and member of the SCI research team, is the principal investigator for two grants from the Department of Defense. One study is studying how the metastatic cells originate and how they invade other cells. The intent of the research is to develop therapeutic measures for metastatic breast cancer. The second study is researching how microRNA is responsible for development of DCIS.
- Eiji Furuta, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow, working with Dr. Watabe received funding from the Susan G. Komen Foundation to study how an edible plant that grows in Asia, Cacalia delphinifolia, can be used to target the fatty acid synthases gene and block the gene expression to stop the growth of breast cancer tumors.
- Krishna Rao, MD is a medical oncologist with the department of Internal Medicine at the Simmons Cancer Institute. He has two research projects funded by the William E. McElroy Charitable Foundation and an SIU Clinician Scientist Program Award. The research involves a specific protein, rab25, in the development of breast cancer. The study also looks at rab25 in combination with VEGFR-1 and hormone receptors.
- Randolph Elble, PhD, is and active researcher at Simmons Cancer Institute. He received internal funding from SIU for a one year project to study triple negative breast cancers.
The Simmons Cancer Institute is focusing SIU’s efforts in cancer research, physician and public education, and treatment for patients from across central and southern Illinois. The SCI mission is to serve the people of central and southern Illinois by addressing their present and future cancer care needs through medical education, biomedical research and patient service. Its website is www.siumed.edu/cancer and its main phone number is 217-545-6000.