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IU Simon Cancer Center hosts annual Cancer Research Day on May 22

INDIANAPOLIS -- (May 20, 2013) -- More than 100 people are presenting their research Wednesday, May 22, during the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center's Cancer Research Day.

One hundred and fourteen graduate and medical students, clinical nurses, postdoctoral and medical fellows, and research technicians conducting cancer research at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indiana University Bloomington, Purdue University and the Harper Cancer Research Institute -- a collaboration between the IU School of Medicine and the University of Notre Dame -- are presenting poster abstracts in four categories:

  • Basic science
  • Behavioral science
  • Population science/epidemiology
  • Translational/clinical research

Cash awards for best posters will be presented during an awards ceremony at 2:30 p.m.

Cancer Research Day is in Room 450 at the IUPUI Campus Center, 420 University Blvd. It is free and open to the public.

Anil Sood, M.D., will present the keynote address, “Targeting Tumor Angiogenesis Using RNA Interference,” at 1:30 p.m. A leading ovarian cancer physician and researcher, Dr. Sood is professor and vice chair for translational research in the Departments of Gynecologic Oncology and Cancer Biology, co-director of the Center for RNAi and Non-Coding RNA, and director of the Blanton-Davis ovarian cancer research program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

The focus of this year’s Cancer Research Day is ovarian cancer, with a symposium on that disease beginning at 8 a.m. IU Simon Cancer Center researchers Karen Cowden Dahl, Ph.D.; Daniela Matei, M.D.; Kenneth Nephew, Ph.D.; Emma Rossi, M.D.; Jeanne Schilder, M.D.; and Yan Xu, Ph.D., will present during the symposium.

Ovarian cancer is the deadliest of all gynecologic cancers. In the United States in 2013, it is estimated there will be 22,400 new cases of ovarian cancer and 14,030 deaths, according to the National Cancer Institute. Currently there is no effective means of early detection.

Dr. Matei, associate professor of medicine at the IU School of Medicine and a researcher at the IU Simon Cancer Center, said ovarian cancer was selected as a focus of Cancer Research Day to bring attention to the deadly disease. 

“Cancer Research Day also gives us a chance to give back to those people who have contributed to research by participating in clinical trials,” Dr. Matei said. “Those of us dedicated to working toward a cure for ovarian cancer are indebted to those people who selflessly participate in important clinical trials. They are helping us to find better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.”

Drs. Matei and Nephew recently led a clinical trial on an experimental two-drug combination (carboplatin and decitabine) for treating late-stage ovarian cancer. Not only did a surprising 70 percent of patients in the trial show a positive effect from the new therapy, the researchers say they may have discovered biomarkers that could help identify women who would respond best to the therapy.

Carboplatin is considered the most efficient drug therapy against ovarian cancer, yet women with recurring ovarian cancer often become resistant to the drug after one or two rounds of treatment. Once this occurs, they often survive less than a year because no effective second-line treatment exists.

The researchers have been investigating the addition of decitabine because they suspect it reactivates tumor suppression genes that are turned off in ovarian cancer cells and improves cells’ susceptibility to anti-cancer drugs like carboplatin.

Cancer Research Day is an annual event that aims to increase understanding and awareness of IU Simon Cancer Center research endeavors and encourage collaboration with other cancer research institutions in Indiana.

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Cancer Research Day schedule

May 22, 2013

8 to 10 a.m., Ovarian Cancer Symposium

-8 a.m.,  Kenneth Nephew, Ph.D.: “What We Have Learned From the TCGA About Ovarian Cancer Genomics and Epigenomics”

-8:20 a.m., Daniela Matei, M.D.: “Novel Clinical Interventions in Ovarian Cancer”

-8:40 a.m., Emma Rossi, M.D.: “Pivotal Trials in Ovarian Cancer: A Summary of Results”

-9 a.m., Yan Xu, Ph.D.: “Bioactive Signaling Lipids in Ovarian Cancer”

-9:20 a.m., Karen Cowden Dahl, Ph.D.: “ARID3B is a Novel Ovarian Cancer Oncogene”

-9:40 a.m., Jeanne Schilder, M.D.: “Fertility Sparing Surgical Procedures in Ovarian Cancer”

10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., poster/abstract presentations
(poster judging takes place from 10:30 a.m. to noon)

1:30 to 2:30 p.m., keynote address with Dr. Sood

2:30 to 3:30 p.m., awards presentation