June 30, 2017

Symposium showcases Cancer Biology program's student projects, celebrates advances in molecular therapeutics

Pictured is the Cancer Biology Graduate Program's Rayna Rosati, a poster session participant who defended her dissertation June 23.

Faculty members, post-doctoral fellows and graduate students gathered at the Wayne State University School of Medicine on June 21 to discuss advances in local cancer research at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute's Molecular Therapeutics annual research symposium.

The Molecular Therapeutics Program is one of four research programs at KCI. Faculty presentations and a keynote address were held at the Wayne State University School of Medicine's Margherio Family Conference Center. A lunchtime poster presentation session featuring research projects from 23 students, postdoctoral fellows and clinical fellows was held in the atrium of the School of Medicine's Louis Elliman Building. Three WSU students from the School of Medicine Cancer Biology Graduate Program received awards for their posters.

"I would like to thank all the speakers, trainees and poster judges for participating in the annual Molecular Therapeutics symposium. From the poster presentations to the keynote talk, the science presented was excellent and the discussion stimulating," said WSU Professor of Oncology and Pharmacology Larry Matherly, Ph.D., who is the Molecular Therapeutics program leader and the school's Cancer Biology Graduate Program director.

"By every measure, this important event was a success," he said.

Doctoral candidate Joshua Heyza won first place for his presentation, "p52 modulates sensitivity to cisplatin and PARP inhibitors in ERCC1 null lung cancer cell lines." Heyza trains in the lab of Associate Professor of Oncology Steve Patrick, Ph.D. Heyza also won first place for his oral presentation at the Cancer Biology Graduate Program's own annual symposium last March.

Rayna Rosati, who defended her doctoral dissertation June 23, received second place for her poster, "Small molecule drugs to selectively disrupt ELK1 dependent growth signaling by AR in prostate cancer." She trains in the lab of Professor of Oncology Manohar Ratnam, Ph.D., and will remain in his lab after graduation as a postdoctoral fellow to continue the research and a related clinical drug trial.

"This is really exciting, and hopefully we can move forward in the clinic with it," Rosati said.

Doctoral student Ethan Brock received third place for his poster, "Sprouty4 regulates ERK MAPK signaling and the transition to invasive breast ductal carcinoma," a project he works on in the lab of Raymond Mattingly, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Pharmacology.

The one-day symposium also featured basic science and translational research from 10 faculty affiliated with the WSU School of Medicine, WSU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Henry Ford Health System, with presentations spanning from the bench to the bedside.

Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center and School of Medicine Cancer Crusaders Professor Lucio Miele, M.D., Ph.D., delivered the symposium's keynote presentation, "Canonical, non-canonical, mitochondrial: the twists and turns of targeting notch in cancer." He heads LSU's Department of Genetics and is director for Inter-Institutional Programs at the Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center in New Orleans.

Participating faculty included:

Department of Oncology
Radhakrishnan Ramchandren, M.D.
Gen Sheng Wu, Ph.D.
Philip Philip, M.D., Ph.D., F.R.C.P.
Ira Winter, M.D., Ph.D.
Amy Weise, D.O.

Department of Pharmacology
John Reiners Jr., Ph.D.

Department of Pediatrics
Sureyya Savasan, M.D.
Andrew Fribley, Ph.D.

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' Department of Biological Sciences
Lori Pile, Ph.D.

Henry Ford Health System
Ana deCarvalho, Ph.D.

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