Wilmot Cancer Center Update - April 2013

Leadership Notes

Dear Colleagues,

Jonathan Friedberg, M.D.While the New Year is just underway, there is already a great deal of exciting news to share about the Wilmot Cancer Center.

As we have previously communicated, we’ve placed great emphasis on the need to expand and strengthen our research and will continue to look at initiatives that support that mission. Just last month, our recently-established Research Advisory Committee (RAC) awarded $350,000 in seed grants that will fuel individual research and program development. We are extremely pleased to have been able to award, through the RAC, funding to support three pilot projects, a program development grant and a Neuroblastoma research grant.

Hucky Land, Ph.D.These grants signal our strong commitment to supporting research at the Wilmot Cancer Center, and the number of applications received and the time committed to review by many members of the RAC was a strong reflection of the interest and enthusiasm of our scientists. In some cases, as many as 10 committee members contributed their time to review the grant applications.  Beyond that, we’ve made a commitment to connect with those whose applications did not receive funding and provide feedback that may help strengthen any future proposals. 

Equally important, these seed grants were largely made available through the generous support of our community.  Our ability to educate and engage our community in the importance of research will become even more critical in an era in which federal funding has reached a plateau and become increasingly competitive. More detailed information on the grants is available elsewhere in this issue.

As you know, in late December, we announced that the Pluta Cancer Center had officially transferred its programs and services to the University of Rochester Medical Center.  This provides additional options, resources and flexibility that will only help strengthen the clinical programs we offer our patients.

Both the Wilmot Cancer Center and Pluta have earned outstanding reputations for delivering high quality care, yet there is much we can learn from each other in order to raise that quality to an even higher level.  Thanks to your efforts, Wilmot has embraced the URMC focus on Patient and Family Centered Care and made great strides in further improving the quality of care and service we provide our patients.  Our new relationship with Pluta can make those gains even more pronounced as personalized care has long been its hallmark.  At the same time, the Wilmot Cancer Center can provide Pluta patients with easier access to state-of-the art research and promising clinical trials. 

This is an exciting development for cancer patients in the greater Rochester region as it combines and expands resources in a manner that will have a very positive impact on care.  By leveraging the strengths of two outstanding providers, we will better serve cancer patients in our community. We will continue to share additional information on the transition with Pluta over the next few months as they fully integrate into our clinical information systems, e-record and other shared services. 

The exciting developments of the last month hold great promise for our cancer center and will only serve to strengthen our position as the region’s leader in cancer care and research.  Thanks for all you do to make that possible. Best wishes for a successful and healthy New Year!


Jonathan Friedberg, M.D., MM.Sc.
Hucky Land, Ph.D.

Staff Profile: Jessica Sanderson

Jessica SandersonWilmot Cancer Center Staff Profile:  Jessica Sanderson

Position: Senior Public Relations Associate

Employed at URMC since: April 2013

What I love most about my job: Telling the story of the Cancer Center through patient successes, research initiatives, community involvement, etc.

What previous roles did you hold to help you prepare for this position? I’ve been a story teller since birth. My report cards were full of “social butterfly” commentary. Finding a role in communications just made practical sense for my personality and skill set. I’ve spent eight years helping various organizations—from Fortune 500 technology companies to a local health system and regional bank— tell their stories to the public, and I’m thrilled to be joining the Wilmot team to do the same!

When I’m not at work, I enjoy: Chasing after a sassy toddler with more energy I knew was available for one human being. I classify myself as a “documentary-addict”—enjoying the stories and education delivered through this medium. I’m also an avid cook and baker.

Something that people might be surprised to know about me:  I have a passion for Christmas music, and on dreary days in the summer, I can be found listening to it to pep up my day.

Last good movie I watched: “Waiting for Superman” – a documentary discussing the plight of the current public education system in the U.S.

Recently Published

Researchers Identify New Pathway, Enhancing Tamoxifen to Tame Aggressive Breast Cancer

Mark Noble, Ph.D. and doctoral student Hsing-Yu Chen studied the molecular mechanism that allows basal-like breast cancer cells to escape the secondary effects of tamoxifen, and discovered that two proteins are critical in this escape.

The research, published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine, shows how to exploit tamoxifen’s secondary activities so that it might work on more aggressive breast cancer—a promising development for women with basal-like breast cancer, sometimes known as triple-negative disease.

Three Papers from URMC in same issue of Cell Stem Cell
Craig Jordan, Ph.D., and post-doctoral fellow Eleni Lagadinou, M.D., Ph.D., led a team showing that the stem cells fueling acute myeloid leukemia have a slower metabolism. This helps to explain why AML can lie dormant for long periods and survive despite aggressive treatment. Importantly, they also identified an experimental drug tailored to target this uniquely slower cell metabolism, and hope to design clinical trials soon.

Jianwen Que, Ph.D., a junior faculty in the Department of Biomedical Genetics, also had a nice paper on the origins of esophageal cancer. His team showed for the first time (in mice) how squamous cell lesions arise from the interplay between genes in the esophagus. The inflammatory environment activates a transcription factor called STAT3, which then cooperates with another gene known as SOX2, then is specifically expressed in the basal stem cells of the esophagus. Together SOX2 and STAT3 seem required for promoting esophageal tumor growth. To see the abstract in Cell Stem Cell

Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc.Steve Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues published a third study in the March 7 edition of Cell Stem Cell, demonstrating that mice became smarter after transplantation with human glial cells. Learn more.

Funding Opportunities

Request for Proposals for Pilot & Collaborative Studies in Cancer Research

The Wilmot Cancer Center is soliciting applications for grants focusing on cancer research to support three separate individual or collaborative research projects in the area of basic, translational, behavioral or epidemiological cancer research.

Up to $50,000 of funding may be requested for one year. Principle investigators may only hold a single pilot grant award at any given time. Awards will be based on scientific merit and innovation. Proposals should use 11 pt. Arial font, 1-inch margins, single-spaced type, and include the following:

  • Lay Abstract
  • Proposed Research—three-page maximum (abstract, hypothesis, specific aims, background and significance, and plan of research)
  • Biosketch (NIH format) for key personnel
  • Other Support
  • Budget—funding cannot be used to support faculty salary

Applications must be submitted electronically to Brian Martin by May 1, 2013. Funding is anticipated for awarded proposals on July 1, 2013.

Calendar Updates

  • Thursday, May 9th, 2013
    • ​Wilmot Town Hall Meeting, 7:30 - 8:30am, Cancer Center Conference Room, Room 2-0727
  • ​James P. Wilmot Cancer Center Discovery Ball
  • Empire Ballroom at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center
  • Cocktails & Hors D'oeuvres: 6pm, Dinner and Program: 8pm
  • Thursday, May 16th, 2013
    • Wilmot Town Hall Meeting, 4-5pm, Upper S Wing Auditoriam, Room 3-7619
  • Friday, May 17th, 2013
    • Cancer Survivors Night at the Ballpark
    • Red Wings Game at Frontier Field
    • Gates Open: 6:05pm - Game Time: 7:05pm
    • $5.00 per ticket for Wilmot employee
    • Employees will receive 3 Diamond Dollars for every ticket purchased or purchase 4 tickets and receive 20 Diamond Dollars, to be used at the ballpark concessions.

This issue:

  • Leaderhip Notes
  • Staff Profile
  • Calendar
  • In the News
  • Recently Published
  • Funding Opportunities

Contact Us

We always welcome your feedback. If you have questions, concerns or general comments, please feel free to send them to wccupdate