Message from the Director 

While the University of Minnesota has been studying cancer for almost as long as there has been a medical school, 2016 marked the Masonic Cancer Center’s 25th anniversary.  And our celebratory year coincided with the public launch of Vice President Biden’s “Cancer Moonshot” initiative.  I was called to Washington, D.C. to meet with VP Biden and other cancer leaders and at home in Minnesota, the Masonic Cancer Center hosted the country’s largest local summit with almost 500 attendees representing stakeholders from around Minnesota wanting to see an end to cancer.  This Cancer Moonshot initiative is gaining momentum; the recently enacted “21st Century Cures Act” contains $1.8B in funding for the “Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot.”  Between research awards, national recognition and groundbreaking collaborations, 2016 was a banner year for the Masonic Cancer Center and 2017 is shaping up to be even better.
In 2017, we hope to expand the reach of cancer clinical trials throughout the state of Minnesota through the MNDrive program – funded by the state legislature.  Governor Dayton has endorsed funding for this state-wide cancer clinical trials network coordinated by the Masonic Cancer Center; MNDrive will be considered by the legislature this session.  The goal of this network is to ensure all Minnesotans have improved access to the latest prevention, treatment, and survivorship clinical trials.  Our hope is to reduce the impact of cancer through translational cancer research.
Chainbreaker is coming!  This exciting biking event is a new fundraiser for cancer research, happening August 11-13, 2017.  Chainbreaker is recruiting 2200 riders of all abilities to pledge to raise money in support of cancer research at our center.  Funds raised from this ride will support clinical trial research, faculty recruitment and development, pilot projects, and the establishment of a new population cohort enrolling three generations of Minnesotans.  Chainbreaker will be an annual event and provide much needed funds to “break the chain” of cancer through research.
Finally, our National Cancer Institute designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center is up for renewal; our grant submission is due in early 2018.  This will be the 5th renewal of this grant and I’m confident our growth in population, laboratory, translational, and clinical research will make this our strongest application ever submitted.  I’m indebted to all of the Masonic Cancer Center faculty and staff who are committed to cancer research and I look forward to our grant renewal.  And I am indebted to our community of supporters committed to our work of putting cancer out of business.
With that in mind, I’d like to highlight a few of 2016’s notable achievements.

Cancer Moonshot Brings Together Local Cancer Experts, Community to Put an End to Cancer

The Masonic Cancer Center and University of Minnesota Health co-hosted the Minnesota Cancer Moonshot Summit June 29, 2016, supporting former Vice President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot Summit in Washington, D.C.  The Minnesota summit was the first time in history that dozens of community partners, state legislators, research collaborators, and clinical colleagues, including the American Cancer Society, Mayo Clinic and The Hormel Institute, convened under one roof to work toward the same goal: achieve a decade’s worth of cancer research and treatment advances in half the time.
“Collaboration is key to the success of the Cancer Moonshot initiative,” said Douglas Yee, M.D., director of the Masonic Cancer Center and oncologist with University of Minnesota Health. “By taking this opportunity to connect on strengths and identify the resources we need, we are setting the course for unprecedented discovery.”
Panel discussions at the all-Minnesota event discussed cancer prevention and health disparities, viral and immune therapies, clinical trials and patient advocacy. Joining in the conversation was researchers, community members and legislators invested in identifying and advancing potential collaborations and ideas related to cancer. Following the summit, a summary of the suggestions and topics was shared with the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative and National Cancer Institute, informing the national next steps in this bold challenge.


Masonic Cancer Center Leaders Pave the Way for Success

The Masonic Cancer Center’s leadership team is comprised of clinicians, researchers, professors, and chairs of several cancer-related committees. Together, they bring their combined knowledge and expertise in clinical immunotherapy, finance, cancer prevention, and basic, clinical, and translational research.
Jeffrey Miller, M.D.
Deputy Director
Jeffrey Miller, M.D., is currently a Professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota, and the director of the Cancer Experimental Therapeutics Initiative (CETI). He chairs the Translational Research
Leadership committee, CETI Phase One committee, and is responsible for selected clinical research shared resources. Dr. Miller has more than 20 years of experience studying the biology of Natural Killer (NK) cells and other immune effector cells and their use in clinical immunotherapy with over 170 peer-reviewed publications.

Seanne Falconer, MBA
Executive Director & Associate Cancer Center Director for Administration
Seanne Falconer, MBA, is responsible for all administrative activities supporting finance, operations, marketing, facilities, development, and outreach. She is the administrative liaison with the university’s Academic Health Center, University of Minnesota Foundation, University of Minnesota Health and the National Cancer Institute.

Dorothy Hatsukami, Ph.D.
Associate Director for Cancer Prevention & Control
Dorothy Hatsukami, Ph.D., is responsible for population sciences, and planning methods to enhance intra- and inter-programmatic collaborations and outreach efforts. In addition, she oversees retreats, seminars, and town hall meetings, organizes and chairs the reviews of applications for Cancer Prevention and Control pilot grants, and chairs the Cancer Prevention and Control Leadership Committee. 

Badrinath Konety, M.D., MBA
Associate Director for Clinical Affairs
Badrinath Konety M.D. is Chair of the Oncology Service Line Steering Committee, which oversees the operations, management, and strategic direction of the Oncology Service Line within University of Minnesota Physicians and University of Minnesota Health. As such, he is the cancer center’s liaison between the research and clinical care.

David Largaespada, Ph.D.
Associate Director for Basic Sciences
David Largaespada, Ph.D., is responsible for the internal grants program, seminar series, annual Masonic Cancer Center Symposium, and peer review for grant applications from Masonic Cancer Center members. He helps program Masonic Cancer Center laboratory space, and is responsible for the Science Council and  basic science shared resources.

Christopher Pennell, Ph.D.
Associate Director for Education & Community Engagement
Christopher Pennell, Ph.D., is responsible for organizing all educational aspects of the Masonic Cancer Center from high school through postgraduate training. He also serves as faculty lead for the center's Education & Community Engagement Office, which is focused on reducing the burden of cancer in Minnesota by engaging communities and providing them access to knowledge and information about cancer prevention, treatment, survivorship, and clinical research opportunities. Dr. Pennell is a frequent spokesman for the Masonic Cancer Center, travelling state-wide to talk to groups ranging from junior high school students to Masonic Lodges about the research and discoveries of the MCC.

Jill Siegfried, Ph.D.
Associate Director for Translational Research
Jill Siegfreid, Ph.D., has oversight over translational research activities at the center.  She oversees the Translational Working groups and helps to bring together researchers who share common disease-based research focus and administers pilot grants to incentivize these translational collaborations.  

New Cancer Center Scientific Leaders Strengthen Research Efforts
Masonic Cancer Center’s research programs bring together scientists from different disciplines to research the underlying mechanisms which affect cancer cells. These research programs are organized around scientific themes that reflect advances in cancer research and provide opportunities for interactions across the cancer community to solve organ-specific clinical questions. Our new scientific leaders bring broad knowledge to our research programs at the Masonic Cancer Center, and will help spearhead discoveries that will lead to better ways to treat and prevent cancer. Newly appointed leaders within the research programs include: 
Frank Ondrey, M.D., Ph.D., FACS
Co-Program Director
Carcinogenesis & Chemoprevention

Martin Felices, Ph.D.
Translational Cell Therapy Laboratory

Jinhua Wang, Ph.D.
Cancer BioInformatics

Read more about Masonic Cancer Center’s research programs.
What is the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota?
The Masonic Cancer Center is one of only 47 centers nationally designated by the National Cancer Institute as a Comprehensive Cancer Center and the only one in the Twin Cities. We are part of one of the largest research universities in the country with a robust and comprehensive academic health center including schools of Pharmacy, Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Medicine, Public Health and Nursing. More than 500 experts from the breadth of the University of Minnesota colleges, across multiple disciplines, including Engineering, Design, and Computer Science, collaborate in a team-based approach to reduce the burden of cancer. Their work includes basic laboratory research, clinical research, and research related to prevention, risk reduction, screening, and survivorship.
Our cancer center has pioneered lifesaving therapies, including setting the standards for blood and marrow transplantation, harnessing the power of stem cells to find cures and repair injury caused by chemotherapy, and targeting cancer using the body’s own natural killer cells. We also work hard to decipher what causes cancer, diagnosing and treating cancer, translating research into patient care, and conducting clinical research.
Masonic Cancer Center also actively works toward understanding cancer across species, and preventing and managing cancer, including ensuring cancer survivors’ long term health and identifying lifestyle prevention and risks.
Community Engagement & Education 

The mission of the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center’s Office of Education and Community Engagement is to reduce the burden of cancer in Minnesota by engaging communities and providing useable, culturally appropriate education about cancer prevention, treatment, survivorship, and clinical research opportunities.
The Office of Education and Community Engagement developed several new initiatives in 2016. Some of their biggest accomplishments include their "Research in Progress" forum, which provides UMN lab-based trainees an opportunity to discuss their research, troubleshoot experimental design, and formulate ideas for grant proposal with feedback from peers and faculty mentors. 
The office established two new partnerships, one with Pillsbury United Communities, in which the team provides science community talks to translate the research at the Masonic Cancer Center to the North Minneapolis community into actionable prevention plans for community members, and one with YMCA, in which the team engages the public, specifically men, in men's health and risk for cancer.
And lastly, as a way to reach underrepresented high school and undergraduate students in biomedical sciences, the department founded CURE (Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences) internships, which provide opportunities to students to obtain hands-on experience in a cancer research environment and establish a mentoring relationship with a professional scientist.

Notable Discoveries from 2016
Indoor Tanning Large Driver in Melanoma Trends Among Young Women and Men
A study led by DeAnn Lazovich, Ph.D., M.P.H., Screening, Prevention, Etiology and Cancer Survivorship Research Program Member, examined age- and sex-specific associations between indoor tanning and melanoma to determine whether the tanning trend is driving the increase in cases, especially among younger women. The research findings reiterate indoor tanning is a likely contributor to the diverging trends among men and women under the age of 50. Almost all women diagnosed with melanoma under the age of 30 reported the use of tanning beds, and were six times more likely to develop the disease than study participants that did not use indoor tanning beds. Read more about this study.
I-SPY 2 Clinical Trials Provide Improved Outcomes for Advanced Breast Cancer
A new exemplar of breast cancer research was released, showcasing the successful studies of three new drugs that have widely improved outcomes in patients with high-risk, rapidly growing breast cancer. Douglas Yee, M.D., director of the Masonic Cancer Center and renown breast cancer oncologist, co-authored two studies that were published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The studies found that adding three novel drug therapies, known as the drug neratinib and the drug combination veliparib plus carboplatin, to standard therapy improved the outcome in patients with two types of breast cancer; HER2-positive, hormone-receptor- negative and triple-negative. Read more about these studies.
Molecular Portraits of a New Cancer Drug Target Provide Vital Clues into Enzymes
Unprecedented images of cancer genome-mutating enzymes acting on DNA provide vital clues into how the enzymes work to promote tumor evolution and drive poor disease outcomes. These images, revealed by Masonic Cancer Center researchers provide the first-ever high-resolution pictures of molecular complexes formed between DNA and the human APOBEC3A and APOBEC3B enzymes. The DNA-binding mechanism suggests ways to block enzyme activity in cancer, which could slow the rate at which tumors evolve. Inhibiting APOBEC activity could make current anti-cancer therapies more effective. Work continues to take and analyze additional portraits of these enzymes with different DNA substrates and to devise strategies for enzyme inhibition. Read more on this research.
Heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs) Form in Well-Done Cooked Meats, Combustion of Tobacco
A recent study co-authored by Robert Turesky, BSc, Ph.D., Carcinogenesis & Chemoprevention Research Program Member, on Heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs) provides a further understanding of how chemicals in the diet (particularly in well-done cooked meats) and tobacco smoke impact the biological function of cells, leading to changes of cell metabolism—which make the cells more susceptible to genetic damage. Read more on this study.
Immune response to HPV impacts head and neck cancer prognosis
Head and neck cancer patients with evidence of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection generally have a better prognosis than people without evidence of infection. A new study led by Heather Nelson, Ph.D., M.P.H., co-leader, Screening, Prevention, Etiology and Cancer Survivorship (SPECS) Program, demonstrated that measuring a patient’s immune response to HPV provides a robust prognostic signal, suggesting that in the future a blood serum test for two specific HPV antibodies may replace traditional pathology testing. Read more about this study.

Symposium Features Research from International Leaders & UMN Trainees
The Masonic Cancer Center hosted its 7th Annual Cancer Research Symposium Nov. 2-3, 2016 at TCF Bank Stadium. With the goal of celebrating 25 years of research innovation, discovery, and collaborations, the 2-day event featured internationally recognized cancer researchers and doctors, many of whom currently work or have trained at the Masonic Cancer Center, as well as current trainee presenters that represent the vision of tomorrow. Together, these researchers and trainees shared the work they’ve explored in many areas of cancer research that have changed lives and continue to move us in new directions.
The Masonic Cancer Center received an overwhelming response from trainees who submitted abstracts and posters to be evaluated for the Symposium, requiring two distinct poster sessions to display all of the work. Eight trainees’ abstracts were chosen as winners based on the merit of their research and how well it aligned with their research program. One trainee, Dr. Marie-Elena Brett, was selected as the top abstract winner. The top eight abstract winners presented on their studies the second day of the symposium.

Abstract Winners Share Research
From left to right: 
Marie-Elena Brett, PhD
Overall Top Abstract Winner
Effect of Resident Macrophages on Extravasation of Breast Cancer Epithelial Cells

Matthew Martien, MS
Cell Signaling Program Abstract Winner
IGF1R Regulates Metastasis of Triple Negative Breast Cancer via the HIF-1/VEGF/XBP1 Pathway

Robin Williams, M.D.
Transplant Biology and Therapy Program Abstract Winner
Role of Recipient CD8+ T Cell Exhaustion in the Rejection of Adoptively Transferred NK Cells

Lynn Heltemes Harris, PhD
Immunology Abstract Winner
B cell Transcription Factors Define a Novel Tumor Suppressor Gene Network in ALL

Kun Zhou
Tumor Microenvironment Program Abstract Winner
A tRNA Fragment Regulates BCAR3 Expression in Ovarian Cancer Cells
Amanda Salzwedel, DVM, MS
Genetic Mechanisms of Cancer Program Abstract Winner
Oncolytic Adenovirus Expressing IFN-α Synergistically Potentiates Chemoradiation in PDAC Cells

Thomas Kensler, PhD, B.J. Kennedy Keynote Lecturer
Andrea Carra, PhD
Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Program Abstract Winner
Screening for Inflammation-Induced DNA Adducts

Spencer Hostel (Not Pictured)
Screening, Prevention, Etiology, and Cancer Survivorship Abstract Winner
Prospective Assessment of CTCs in Women Undergoing Surgery for Suspected Ovarian Cancer
New Grants to Advance Cancer Research   
Of the numerous grants awarded to Masonic Cancer Researchers over 2016, we'd like to highlight six distinguished grants which will assess environmental influences on children’s health, diversify the cancer research workforce, and examine ethnic/racial differences in lung cancer due to cigarette smoking.
Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO)

The National Institute of Health (NIH) awarded the Masonic Cancer Center $575,000 to launch a 7-year initiative called Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO). This new grant is a competitive supplement to the $5.1 million CHEAR grant the cancer center received in 2015. The ECHO program will investigate how exposure to a range of environmental factors in early development–from conception through early childhood–influences the health of children and adolescents. A diverse team of Masonic Cancer Center researchers will focus on factors that may influence health outcomes around the time of birth as well as into later childhood and adolescence, including upper and lower airway health and development, obesity, and brain and nervous system development. The Masonic Cancer Center is one of only six cancer centers across the United States analyzing the samples for this project. Learn more about this grant.
Hemangiosarcoma Research funded by the AKC Canine Health Foundation

AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing, treating and curing diseases in all dogs, awarded a $432,000 grant to Jaime Modiano, V.M.D., Ph.D., Genetic Mechanisms of Cancer Program Research Member, and professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine. The study aims to pair two novel technologies consisting of a patented test to detect hemangiosarcoma cells in blood samples, and a treatment that attacks the cells that establish and maintain the disease. This project will also create tools to guide further development, licensing, and deployment of new paired technologies against cancer, specifically hemangiosarcoma, with an ultimate goal for disease prevention in all dogs. Learn more about this grant.
Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) Cancer Internships

The University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center (MCC) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in the National Institute of Health (NIH) recognize the value and necessity of diversifying the cancer research workforce. To address this need, the NCI has provided funds to establish the Masonic Cancer Center CURE Cancer Internships—a program designed to train and mentor bright young individuals in Minnesota from diverse backgrounds who otherwise might not have considered a career in cancer research possible. The 2017 internship cycle, administered by the Masonic Cancer Center Community Engagement & Education Program, and led by Dr. Christopher Pennell, will fund five high school students and five undergraduate students to participate in a year-long paid training program focused on cancer research, educational opportunities in cancer, and career development advice. Learn more about this grant.
NIH Program Project Grant P01: Ethnic/Racial Differences in Lung Cancer Due to Cigarette Smoking 

Principal Investigator Stephen Hecht, Ph.D, won a $2.2 million NIH P01 program project grant to determine the mechanistic basis for the observed ethnic differences in susceptibility to lung cancer in cigarette smokers. Dr. Hecht and his co-investigators’ studies are based on a major lead from the Multiethnic Cohort study, which demonstrated that for the same number of cigarettes smoked, and particularly at lower levels of smoking, self-identified African Americans and Native Hawaiians have a higher incidence of lung cancer than Whites while Latinos and Japanese Americans have a lower incidence. They will build on their important results from the first five years of this project demonstrating significant differences in nicotine metabolism and carcinogen uptake which partially explain the relatively high risk of African Americans and the low risk of Japanese Americans. 
NCI R50: Using Bioinformatics to Solve the “Missing Driver” Problem in Solid Tumors

Principal Investigator, and Manager of the Bioinformatics Shared Resource, Aaron Sarver, Ph.D., received a NCI Research Specialist Award (R50) to study the factors that promote tumor formation and progression – known as critical driver events. While a number of genetic mutations have been identified that are shown to contribute to tumor formation, many human solid tumors lack clear driver events. Dr. Sarver is using a bioinformatics based approach to uncover previously unidentified locations of genetic mutations in tumors. With this approach, he expects to identify novel driver events leading to cancer, an important step to personalized approaches to cancer treatment.
NCI R50: Enhancing the Research Power of Mass Spectrometry

The Analytical Biochemistry Shared Resource at the Masonic Cancer Center has emerged as one of the leading academic mass spectrometry laboratories in the United States. This core resource is managed by Peter Villalta, Ph.D., who was recently awarded a NCI Research Specialist Award (R50) to pursue additional process-focused research to help everyone who uses the core. The core primarily supports research in the Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Program (C&C), which aims to understand the chemical and molecular mechanisms of carcinogenesis and to use this information to develop practical methods for cancer prevention. This Shared Resource provides critical support to investigators aiming to understand the causes of cancer, allowing them to harness the advanced analytical capabilities of the mass spectrometry laboratory.
Masonic Cancer Center Scientists Receive Outstanding Awards
More than 20 of the Masonic Cancer Center’s scientists received a variety of outstanding awards further showcasing the level of expertise we have at our cancer center. Here is a complete list of those who received awards:
Mustafa al’Absi, PhD, received the 2016 National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) International Program Awards of Excellence.
Silvia Balbo, Ph.D., Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Program, received the 2016 ISSNAF Hogan Lovells Award for Research in Medicine, Biosciences and Cognitive Science.
Ran Blekman, Ph.D., Genetic Mechanisms of Cancer Program, was awarded an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation 2016 Sloan Research Fellowship.
Colin Campbell, Ph.D., received the 2016 President’s Award for Outstanding Service to the University of Minnesota.
Nitya Chandiramani, was selected as a 2016 Scholarly Excellence in Equity and Diversity (SEED) Award recipient.
Reuben Harris, Ph.D., Genetic Mechanisms of Cancer Program, was awarded the Margaret Harvey Schering Land Grant Chair for Cancer.
Bin He, Ph.D., Tumor Microenvironment Program, received the 2017 IEEE Biomedical Engineering Award.
Linda Koehler, Ph.D., P.T., CLT-LANA, was the recipient of the Dorothy Briggs Memorial Scientific Inquiry Award from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).
Mary Jo Kreitzer, R.N., Ph.D., won the 2016 Women's Health Leadership Trust Health & Wellness Innovation Award. ‪
Carol Lange, Ph.D., Cell Signaling Program leader, received the University of Minnesota Medical Center’s 2016 Research Excellence Award.
David Largaespada, Ph.D., Associate Director of Basic Sciences and Genetic Mechanisms of Cancer Program member, was awarded the Hedberg Family/Children’s Cancer Research Fund Endowed Chair in Brain Tumor Research.
Aaron LeBeau, Ph.D., Tumor Microenvironment Program, was awarded a Paul Calabresi K12 Award in Clinical-Translational Research by the National Cancer Institute.
David Masopust, Ph.D., was named to the inaugural class of Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Faculty Scholars.
Genevieve Melton-Meaux, M.D., Ph.D., was given the University of Minnesota Medical Center’s Clinical Innovation & Research Award.
Jaime Modiano, V.M.D., Ph.D., Genetic Mechanisms of Cancer Program, was awarded a 2-year $239,250 NCI R21 grant for his project “(PQ3) modulation of osteosarcoma biology by inflammation and immunity defined through a comparative approach.”
Marilyn 'Susie' Nanney, Screening, Prevention, Etiology and Cancer Survivorship Program, was named a 2016-2017 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellow.
William Pomerantz, Ph.D., Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Program, was selected by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA) as a 2016 Cottrell Scholar.
William Robiner, Ph.D., received the 2016 President’s Award for Outstanding Service.
Zohar Sachs, M.D., Ph.D., Genetic Mechanisms of Cancer Program, received the Department of Medicine's 2016-2017 Women’s Early Research Career (WERC) Award.
Aaron Sarver, Ph.D., received a five-year, $565,000 NCI R50 Research Specialist Award to utilize bioinformatics approaches to solve the “Missing Driver” problem in solid tumors.
Daniel Vallera, Ph.D., Tumor Microenvironment Program, received the Angel Award from the Randy Shaver Cancer Research and Community Fund.
Peter Villalta, Ph.D., received a five-year, $875,000 NCI R50 Research Specialist Award to focus his efforts on providing the NCI-funded members of the Carcinogenesis & Chemoprevention research program.
John Wagner, M.D., co-leader of the Transplant Biology and Therapy Program, was the recipient of the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Consortium Lifetime Achievement Award.
Christine Wendt, M.D., Genetic Mechanisms of Cancer Program, received the CTSI's 2016 Mentor of the Year Award.
Daniel Weisdorf, M.D., co-leader, Transplant Biology and Therapy Program, received the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (ASMBT).

The Next Big Breakthrough: Predicting Cancer's Path

In five years, we could be able to predict how cancer cells spread in the body leading to invasion and metastasis. The University of Minnesota—and Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota researchers – were just awarded a National Cancer Institute (NCI) $8.2 million Physical Sciences-Oncology Centers (PS-OCs) grant to do just that.
Researchers involved in this project are from the Masonic Cancer Center, Academic Health Center, and College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota, and are collaborating with partners at Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic. The Masonic Cancer Center joins an elite network of 10 institutions nationwide working collaboratively on the physics-based approach to cancer research, including Johns Hopkins University, MIT, Harvard, Cornell, Columbia University, Methodist Hospital-Houston, Northwestern University, Moffitt Cancer Center, and University of Pennsylvania.
Understanding how live cancer cells move through the body and spread cancer is important in developing personalized therapies for patients, especially those with the deadliest types of cancer. Researchers will combine engineering and medical approaches to understand the fundamental mechanics and chemistry of how cells create forces to move through complex and mechanically challenging tumor microenvironments.
“Our cell migration simulator could help us personalize cancer treatments based on live cell measurements obtained from a patient's own tumor cells,” said David Odde, PhD, Tumor Microenvironment researcher at the Masonic Cancer Center and Department of Biomedical Engineering professor in the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering. “Like there are different flight simulators used to 'fly' a Boeing 747, Cessna or Lear Jet, our simulator will categorize patients based on their individual cell mechanical parameters that allow their cancer cells to invade and metastasize.”
Over the next five years, a highly interdisciplinary team of biomedical engineers, cancer biologists, oncologists and surgeons from the University of Minnesota — led by Dr. Odde; David Largaespada, PhD, associate director for Basic Science at the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center and professor of Pediatrics; Paolo Provenzano, PhD, Tumor Microenvironment researcher at the Masonic Cancer Center and assistant professor in the Biomedical Engineering Department; and Steven Rosenfeld, MD, PhD, oncologist at Cleveland Clinic — will collaborate with the Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic on the project.
“The physical sciences, including engineering concepts and mathematical modeling, can offer tremendous new insight into the behavior of cancer cells including the process of invasion and metastasis,” said Largaespada. “These fields have traditionally not been incorporated very well into how we think about cancer. The new knowledge could lead to new methods for therapeutic intervention.”
A primary focus of the simulator will initially be on brain tumors and pancreatic cancer, but the principles potentially apply to many other cancers. University researchers say they will focus on these two cancers because they have an especially poor prognosis—the median survival is less than two years, with very few long-term survivors—and both cancers progress in large part due to cell migration.

In addition to research, this new effort will support an “Engineering in Oncology Fellows” program that will help the University of Minnesota recruit doctoral students to work in the emerging interdisciplinary area of cancer research using an engineering approach and train the next generation of cancer researchers.
Survivorship: Research, Clinical Care, & Annual Conference

A cancer diagnosis can alter the landscape of your life. Although it doesn't redefine you, it can change your lifetime healthcare needs. In addition to researching the impact of cancer treatments on survivors, to diminish the long-term effects of treatment, the Masonic Cancer Center hosts a free educational conference for several hundred survivors and their families focused on questions and issues about life after cancer treatment or following stem-cell transplantation. 

The Survivorship Conference supplements the care and research offered at the University of Minnesota Health Cancer Survivor Program, Directed by Dr. Anne Blaes. As part of the Cancer Survivor Program, University of Minnesota Health Cancer Care specialists work with patients to identify and manage the effects of cancer and its treatments. The care provided is based on a uses a multidisciplinary research approach to understand biological and behavioral factors in the etiology of cancer, to reduce behaviors that may lead to cancer or enhance behaviors that decrease cancer risk. The program also educates survivors, families and the medical community about the long-term effects of cancer treatment, and appropriate screenings needed to maintain a healthy, active life. 

To learn more about the Cancer Survivor Program:
Register now for the 2017 Survivorship Conference on May 6, 2017 -
Thank you to our Donors

For decades, University of Minnesota researchers and clinicians have been trailblazers in diagnosing, preventing, and treating cancer, and charitable gifts have bolstered their efforts. And in many cases, philanthropy made the difference between a promising research project being tested in the laboratory or abandoned because there wasn't Federal funding available.

Philanthropic support makes discovery possible.

Thanking you, our donors – for providing the vital support necessary to pursue lifesaving research, helping us to deliver more effective, personalized cancer therapies, and supporting the next generation of scientists. We are honored to have your help as vital members of our research and care team.
Link to how they can learn more about support the Masonic Cancer Center.
Learn more about supporting Masonic Cancer Center.

From pioneering a new subspecialty of medical oncology in 1972 at the University of Minnesota to the world's first successful bone marrow transplant for malignant lymphoma in 1975, cancer research and treatment has a long and proud history at the University of Minnesota. The University of Minnesota Cancer Center was established in 1991 and in 1998, the center was awarded the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) highly competitive “comprehensive” designation, which reflected Masonic Cancer Center’s breadth and depth of research across disciplines and it's dedication to pioneering new therapies, patient care and education and community outreach. Our cancer center is currently one of only 47 institutions in the United States to hold the NCI comprehensive cancer center designation and the only one in the greater Twin Cities region.

Masonic Cancer Center is part of the University's Academic Health Center, which also includes the Medical School, School of Dentistry, School of Nursing, College of Pharmacy, School of Public Health and College of Veterinary Medicine. The Masonic Cancer Center's research partners include the University's Stem Cell Institute, Center for Immunology, and the Center for Magnetic Resonance Imaging and the Physical Sciences in Oncology Center; and its clinical research and treatment partners include the University of Minnesota Cancer Care, University of Minnesota Medical Center, and University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital. Masonic Cancer Center is also part of the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium, a network of academic institutions working together on highly translational clinical trials using the expertise of Big Ten universities.



A brand new way to support the Masonic Cancer Center's Research - August 11-13, 2017.

You can bike.
You can support fundraising goals of the researchers, survivors, advocates, friends and family who are biking.
You can volunteer.
But the only thing you can't do - is hate cancer, but do nothing.

100% OF EVERY DOLLAR RAISED will go to support cancer research at the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota.

Register here:
Search for individuals and peloton teams to support here:


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