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December 12, 2008                                               

SIU Med School Receives NIH Grant to Study Cancer Treatment

A physician at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield has been awarded a five-year federal grant from the National Institute of Deafness and Communication Disorders (NIDCD) of the National Institutes of Health to study cancer treatment.  The total budget for the grant is $1,236,608.

Dr. Leonard Rybak, Ph.D., professor of otolaryngology head and neck surgery and SIUC distinguished scholar, is the principal investigator for the project.  He will continue his research on cisplatin, a drug used in cancer treatment, which causes hearing loss in a large number of patients.  The study will use cultured cells and rodent models to determine how cisplatin damages the inner ear with a goal of finding a way to prevent this damage.  The results of the research may lead to an improved cancer treatment with fewer side effects.

Rybak’s research is focused on administering protective drugs through the ear drum and protecting the inner ear, while not interfering with the cancer treatment.  His research has been funded for 26 years by the NIDCD and Deafness Research Foundation and now totals $6.4 million.  He has collaborated with Vickram Ramkumar, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacology at SIU, on the development of a therapeutic compound related to the grant, which has a patent pending.

Rybak, who also is a member of the SimmonsCooper Cancer Institute, joined the SlU faculty in 1981.  He completed his doctoral degree as well as a residency in otolaryngology at the University of Minnesota (1979).  Rybak earned his medical degree at the Medical College of Wisconsin (1973).  He earned his bachelor’s degree at the St. Louis College of Pharmacy (1969).  He is board certified in otolaryngology.

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thern Illinois University School of Medicine Office of Public Affairs News Releases P.O. Box 19621, Springfield IL 62794-9621, 217-545-2155