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Dr. Laura Rogers portrait; Rogers (center) in her laboratory
Dr. Deliang Cao, Ph.D. portrait; Cao (right) in his laboratory
Yin-Yuan Mo, Ph.D. portrait; Mo in his laboratory
Sophia Ran, Ph.D., portrait; Ran in her laboratory
Kounosuke Watabe, Ph.D. portrait; Watabe (left) in his laboratory

October 14, 2010

Five SIU Researchers Studying Breast Cancer

The research by scientists at the Simmons Cancer Institute at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield includes more than $5 million for breast cancer projects.

“SIU cancer programs have received national acknowledgement for research as evidenced by multi-year research grants that our cancer clinicians and researchers have been awarded to date.   And we’re proud that we are working to expand our knowledge of breast cancer,” says Morris Cooper, Ph.D., professor and chair of medical microbiology, immunology and cell biology and associate director for basic research for SCI.

Eight grants have been awarded to five faculty members for breast cancer research now underway at SIU.

Dr. Laura Rogers, associate professor of internal medicine and member of the SCI at SIU, has received two grants from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a division of the National Institutes of Health, to study exercise and breast cancer.

Her first study is testing how well exercise improves physical activity behavior in breast cancer survivors after they finish a three-month exercise program.  The budget for the five-year grant is $3,581,688.  The study also will look at whether the exercise program improves physical fitness, quality of life, fatigue and joint dysfunction.  The results of the research may improve health benefits for patients, reduce side effects and reduce breast cancer recurrence.

Rogers’ second award is a two-year grant from NCI and has a total budget of $348,109. It is looking at a randomized sample of breast cancer survivors who are not exercising and are tired or have trouble sleeping.  Participants will be enrolled in a 12-week exercise program to study fatigue and sleeplessness.

Dr. Deliang Cao, Ph.D., associate professor of medical microbiology, immunology and cell biology, has received $545,456 for his project, which is to study the protein ARL-1 in breast cancer at different stages to determine whether it can be used as a biomarker of the disease.  The grant is funded by the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP).

Yin-Yuan Mo, Ph.D., associate professor of medical microbiology, immunology and cell biology, was awarded $218,250 for two projects.  The first project is to study whether microRNAs play a key role in the regulation of the genes required for estrogen-independent growth, which may cause resistance to tamoxifen, a chemotherapy drug.  

Mo’s second project is looking at whether microDNAs in the blood stream can be transferred into the endothelial cells of blood vessels and whether these cells can elicit inflammatory reactions, causing the cancer to metastasize.  Both grants are funded by the Department of Defense (CDMRP).

Sophia Ran, Ph.D., associate professor of medical microbiology, immunology and cell biology, was awarded $108,881 for her project for the study of how and why mesenchymal stem cells help to regenerate tumor cells after chemotherapy, causing cancer recurrence.  It also is looking for a way to prevent the tumor recurrence.  Andrew Wilber, Ph.D., assistant professor of surgery, is a co-investigator for the project.  The grant is funded by the Department of Defense (CDMRP).

Kounosuke Watabe, Ph.D., professor of medical microbiology, immunology and cell biology, has received $218,132 for two projects.  The first project is to study breast tumor cells to better understand how a small group of tumor cells, also known as tumor stem cells, spread to other organs in the body. 
His second project is trying to identify some specific microRNA (molecule) that play a role in early stage ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) breast cancer.  Both grants are funded by the Department of Defense (CDMRP).

Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU School of Medicine opened the doors to its new facility this summer at 315 W. Carpenter in Springfield.  The opening allowed for consolidation of most of SCI’s 11 multidisciplinary cancer care teams in one location.

The mission of the Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU is to serve the people of central and southern Illinois by addressing their present and future cancer care needs through education, research, patient care and community service.  Its website is www.siumed.edu/cancer.  The phone number is 217-545-6000.

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