September Newsmakers

Cotton Maze Is Clayton Man’s ‘Thank you’ For Duke’s Cancer Support (News & Observer) Local farm honors the Duke Cancer Institute's Cancer Patient Support program by hosting a cotton maze throughout October. Story features Ben Weast, a medical family therapist with Duke’s Cancer Patient Support Program. Read more.

Breast Cancer: 12 exciting cancer breakthroughs you should know about (Fox News) Kimberly Blackwell, M.D., director of the breast cancer program at the Duke Cancer Institute, is researching a targeted drug called T-DM1, which delivers chemo directly to cancer cells. Read more.

Prostate, Breast Cancers More Similar Than You Would Think (Times-Herald) Steve Patierno, Ph.D., DCI Deputy Director, discusses two diseases, prostate cancer and breast cancer, which, surprising to some, have a lot in common, particularly in the way those diagnosed with either one evaluate their options and make decisions about treatment. Read more.

Komen Gives $1 Million To Support DCI Research (

  • Nearly $450,000 in funding to Zachary Hartman, Ph.D., to determine if triple negative breast cancer grows and spreads throughout the body by utilizing inflammatory pathways - a function that is normally used by the body as a defense mechanism.
  • $175,000 in continued fundng to Komen Scholar Kimberly Blackwell, M.D. will continue to compare gene mutations that occur in primary triple negative breast tumors to those that are present in a reappearance of the initial tumor. In addition, she will further study the protein dynein, a predictive marker of response to taxane-based chemotherapy, in triple negative breast cancer.
  • $175,000 in continued funding to Komen Scholar Gerard Blobe, M.D., Ph.D., will continue to investigate whether loss of the transforming growth factor-beta receptor, TβRIII, a protein on the cell surface whose normal function is to inhibit breast cancer formation, is responsible for a decrease in the stiffness of a cancer cell. Cancer cells that are less stiff and more pliable allow the breast cancer cells to become more mobile and invasive.
  • $200,000 in continued funding to Komen Scholar Neil Spector, M.D., will continue to work to identify the different mechanisms involved in therapeutic resistance. Specifically, Dr. Spector will investigate the role of two key proteins, MDM2 and p85, in the development of resistance to HER2 targeted therapies, in addition to other therapies.
  • $35,000 to Kim Lyerly, M.D., to conduct a workshop designed for scientists and consumer advocates to discuss new approaches to developing or enhancing agents for the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of cancer. Read more.

Two mutations linked to success of adoptive T-cell therapy in melanoma (HemOncToday) Two novel mutations, KIF2C and POLA2, appeared to be linked to complete cancer regression in two patients with metastatic melanoma who underwent adoptive T-cell immunotherapy, according to study results. Brent Hanks, MD, PhD., assistant professor, Melanoma Program, Division of medical oncology, responds. Read more.

HPV status predicted OS after progression in oropharyngeal cancer (HemOncToday) Patients with progressive oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma who had p16-positive tumors experienced longer OS than those who had p16-negative tumors, according to results of a retrospective analysis. Neal E. Ready, M.D., Ph.D., medical oncologist, responds. Read more.

MRD may guide augmented post-remission treatment in pediatric ALL (HemOncToday) Children and adolescents with acute lymphoblastic leukemia who had minimal residual disease at the end of remission induction therapy demonstrated improved outcomes with augmented post-remission therapy compared with standard treatment, according to study results. Daniel S. Wechsler, M.D., Ph.D., Chief, pediatric hematology-oncology, associate professor of pediatrics, associate professor of pharmacology and cancer biology, responds. Read more.

Heart of Carolina Perspectives (ABC 11) DCI researcher Donald McDonnell, Ph.D., Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, speaks with Caitlin Knute, weekend news anchor with ABC 11, about breaking science in breast cancer research and the upcoming Making Strides Raleigh, presented by the Duke Cancer Institute. Watch now.

More Than 310 Men Screened At Annual Men's Health Initiative (News & Observer) Organized by the Duke Cancer Institute Office of Health Equities and Disparities, the 2014 Men's Health Initiative offered free screening for prostate cancer, hypertension and diabetes. The MHI event was held on two consecutive days, Saturday, Sept. 20, and Sunday, Sept. 21. Read more.

As NIH Funding Drops, Faculty Head To Capitol Hill (The Chronicle)
After significant decreases in National Institutes for Health funding, Duke professors are rallying for political support behind their research. Story features Steve Patierno, Ph.D., Deputy Director, DCI. Read more.