November 2013

WCC News

18th Annual Scientific Symposium


The URMC and the Wilmot Cancer Center celebrated its 18th Annual Scientific Symposium on November 14. The purpose of the symposium is to bring together scientists and clinicians working in basic, translational and clinical cancer research. Activities included presentations and lectures, a poster session and award ceremonies.

Symposium The morning oral presentation sessions brought great diversity in topics and departments across the medical campus, including presentations from the departments of:

  • Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • Biomedical Genetics
  • Hematology/Oncology Division, Department of Medicine
  • Pathology
  • Endocrinology Division, Department of Medicine
  • Surgery Cancer Control

Presenters discussed a range of topics with emphasis on cancer cell metabolism and novel approaches to targeted interventions. Other topics included research in prostate cancer, acute myelogenous leukemia and lymphoma, among others.

Thank you to all participants for presenting such interesting work!

Davey Memorial Award for Outstanding Cancer Research

Symposium Congratulations to Mark Noble, Ph.D., director of the University of Rochester's Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Institute, this year's recipient of the Davey Memorial Award for Outstanding Cancer Research. Noble has spent the last 36 years making landmark contributions to cancer and stem cell biology; his recent discoveries include:

  • the biological foundations for adverse effects of chemotherapy on the CNS, or better known as chemobrain;
  • novel pathways by which redox changes alter cell function;
  • new approaches to cancer treatment that offer promise of greater selectivity and efficacy.

Congratulations Mark!

Mark Underberg LecturerSymposium

This year's guest lecturer, Alec Kimmelman, M.D., Ph.D., Dana Farber Cancer Institute, spoke about his research in targeting metabolic dependencies in pancreatic cancer. Dr. Kimmelman is working to develop novel therapeutic approaches as well as to promote response to existing agents such as chemotherapy and radiation.

Poster Presentation Winners

The poster themes for this year's symposium included: Molecular and Cell Biology/Immunology, Experimental Hematology/Hematological Cancer, Solid Tumor Biology and Therapy, Cancer Control/Epidemiology. There were 54 posters presented, with prizes of $100 each awarded to the best poster in each category.

Symposium In addition, a single grand prize of a $500 stipend for attending and presenting at a national/international scientific conference was awarded to an individual from the group of winners.

Poster winners included:

  • "Comparison of Two Clinical Methods for Assessing Resting Energy Expenditure Among Cancer Patients," Val Pyon
  • "Control of Cancer Cell Autophagy at the Level of Lysosome Integrity by PLAC8," Vijaya Balakrishnan
  • "Evolution of Acute Myelosgenous Leukemia Stem Cell Properties Following Treatment and Progression," Tzu-Chieh Ho
  • "Emergence of CRG Expression Signature After Loss of Driving Has HRASV12 Oncogene," Jordan Aldersley
  • Grand Prize Winner: "Staufen-1 Dimerization Controls Pancreatic Cancer Cell Migration and Invasion in Vitro Via Staufen1-Mediated mRNA Decay," Michael Gleghorn

Congratulations to all winners, and thank you to all participants!

Friedberg and Land to Host Town Hall Meetings

Jonathan Friedberg, M.D., M.M.Sc., and Hartmut Land, Ph.D., will hold Town Hall meetings in December to provide an update on Wilmot Cancer Center news and a glimpse into plans for 2014. The two meetings are scheduled as follows:

  • Wednesday, December 18 from 4-5 p.m. in the K-307 Auditorium (3.6408)
  • Thursday, December 19 from 7:30-8:30 a.m. in the Wilmot Cancer Center main conference room (2.0727)

Ben Frisch, Ph.D. Awarded IBMS Fellowship

Ben Frisch

Ben Frisch, Ph.D., a young researcher in the Wilmot Cancer Center lab of Laura Calvi, M.D., was awarded the International Bone & Mineral Society Gregory R. Mundy Fellowship on Cancer-Induced Bone Disease. The Gregory R. Mundy Fellowship is offered annually, to a single fellow internationally, to support the research activities of a deserving young investigator in the cancer and bone field.

Frisch will receive a one-year, $40,000 grant. He investigates the link between the cells involved in bone formation and leukemia, and has been published in leading journals, including this paper in Blood.

URMC Enrolling Community College Students for Web-Assisted Tobacco Intervention Study

The URMC is recruiting 1,500 smokers attending community colleges throughout New York State to participate in a new research study funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The "Web-Assisted Tobacco Intervention with Community Colleges" study will investigate novel web-based delivery of tobacco interventions to reduce the number of community college students who smoke.

Students enrolled in the study will need to complete questionnaires at one, six and 12 months, and will receive a total of $45 for their participation whether they quit smoking or not. To be eligible to sign up for the study, students must be matriculated part time or full time at a participating community college, and smoke at least five cigarettes per day on at least five days per week. Full qualifications can be found here.

Sophia Balderman Receives the Carol and John Bennett Travel Fellowship Award

Sophia BaldermanSophia Balderman, M.D., was recently awarded the Carol and John Bennett Traveling Fellowship Award for her poster presentation at the American Society of Hematology's Annual Meeting & Expo to be held December 7-10 in New Orleans. Balderman's poster presentation is titled, "Disruption of the Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cell Pool and Bone Marrow Microenvironment in a Murine Model of Myelodysplastic Syndrome."

The Carol and John Bennett Traveling Fellowship Award was established by John Bennett, M.D. to annually recognize a talented oncology fellow or assistant professor at the Wilmot Cancer Center who presents research at national and international conferences.

Congratulations, Dr. Balderman!

Wilmot Staff Prepare to Spread Holiday Cheer to Patients and Their Families

Fashion ShowWilmot employees are getting ready to spread holiday spirit to patients and families experiencing financial hardship due to the burdens of cancer treatment. The Holiday Project is able to make a difference in the lives of many patients who would otherwise not be able to afford a holiday celebration.

Recipients of the donations are identified by the social work team based on limited family support and/or financial hardship, and could receive gift cards for gas, food, clothing, and toys for patient's children. Please consider providing a monetary or gift card donation to help support our patients and families in need this holiday season. The deadline for staff donations is December 2, and can be submitted to the team helping to organize the project:

  • Sandy Sabatka, Senior Social Worker, 275-6426
  • Patrice Rogers, Hem/Onc Social Worker, 275-5908
  • Rita Goodman/Renee Gelsomino, Rad/Onc Social Workers, 275-4631
  • Martha Neubert, Breast Cancer Social Worker, 275- 4529
  • Lynn Levandowski, administrator, 275-1623

Thank you to the team organizing this special program, and thank you to all of the Wilmot staff who contribute!

Recently Published

Risk of Second Cancers Among Testicular Cancer Patients

The survival rate for testicular cancer is 95 percent at 10 years, thanks in part to the invention of cisplatin-based chemotherapy in the 1970s. Despite this success, however, survivors have an increasing risk of second malignancies—and the risk remains elevated for 35 years.

Chunkit FungIn the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Chunkit Fung, M.D., M.S., and colleagues published what is believed to be the first large population analysis on the risks of second cancers among patients treated in the modern era of cisplatin-based chemo. Fung analyzed data of 12,691 patients diagnosed between 1980 and 2008 with testicular cancer. A total of 210 second tumors were observed in this group. The risk of a second cancer was 40 percent higher among those treated with chemotherapy, but negligible when the patient was treated with surgery alone.

Another disturbing trend: An upswing in second cancers after chemotherapy occurred at 15 to 19 years and 20-plus years after the original diagnosis. In particular, kidney, thyroid, and soft-tissue cancers were observed most often.

Testicular cancer is the most common cancer among men ages 19 to 39. Given the long life expectancy of most patients, quantifying the late effects of cancer and chemotherapy is especially important, the study said.

Read more here.

Alisertib is Active in Relapsed and Refractory Non-Hodgkin Lymphomas

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a biologically diverse condition. Among all the subtypes, many patients who respond to initial treatment eventually suffer a relapse—and this is when the disease becomes more challenging to treat. Wilmot Cancer Center Director, Jonathan Friedberg, M.D., and Steven Bernstein, M.D. are investigating a new targeted therapy to attack a specific protein, Aurora A, that's overproduced in active and aggressive lymphomas.

Recently in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Friedberg and Bernstein describe the outcome of a multicenter Phase II clinical study of Alisertib, which was designed for B-cell and T-cell lymphoma patients who have few other options. The experimental drug has already shown promise in animal models and in early-phase clinical studies for solid tumors; this new data suggests that lymphoma patients tolerate it and may respond as well.

Of a small sample of 48 patients, 27 percent experienced a significant stabilization of their disease. Of particular note was activity in T-cell lymphoma, which is a disease that has fewer therapeutic options. On that basis, the Wilmot lymphoma group now is coordinating a national clinical trial confirm the results in T-cell lymphoma, and other studies are testing alisertib in combination with other treatments.

Read more here.

Staff Profile

Emily Soni

Wilmot Cancer Center Staff Profile: Dr. Emily Carmody Soni

Position: Assistant Professor Orthopedic Oncology and Metabolic Bone Disease

Employed at URMC since: August 2013

What I love most about my job: Truly being able to impact the lives of my patients, as well as their families, as they battle cancer.

If you could choose an occupation other than your current one, what would it be? Probably fashion design

When I'm not at work, I enjoy: live music, sporting events, working out, spending time with my kids

Something that people might be surprised to know about me: I love rock and roll and once sang in a rock and roll cover band

Last good movie I watched: Alice in Wonderland

Advancement News

Dado Fall Fashion Show

Fashion Show More than 600 fashion seekers packed BayTowne plaza on Friday, October 25 for the highly anticipated Dado Fashion Show, which raised more than $35,000 to benefit breast cancer research at the Wilmot Cancer Center. Dalilda Attalah, a self-starter, founder and owner of Dado Boutique on Monroe Avenue in Pittsford has raised more than $191,000 to benefit cancer programs at Wilmot since the inception of the fashion show in 2007.

Attalah chose to support the Wilmot Cancer Center because of the care and support her mother has received in her five year battle with cancer.

Dine Out for Wilmot Raises Nearly $2,000

The first ever Dine Out for Wilmot event, held on September 18, raised nearly $2,000 to benefit oncology nursing education. The community was invited to dine out at a participating restaurant where a portion of food sales for the day were donated to Wilmot Cancer Center.

Eight restaurants participated in this year's event, including The Basin Pub, located at 637 Pittsford-Victor Road in Pittsford, which generously donated 50 percent of their food sales. The other participating restaurants included:


Funding Opportunities

The Association of American Cancer Institute's Translational Cancer Research Fellowship

The intent of the Association of American Cancer Institute's (AACI) Translation Cancer Research Fellowship is to provide additional support to individuals who are engaged in any area of clinical and/or translational cancer research in order to further the development of their careers and enhance their future success.

The AACI fellowship will provide a one-year, non-renewable grant to support post-doctoral training to individuals who have completed at least one year of training in any field of oncology and have at least one year of training remaining at an AACI member institution. The one-year, $50,000 fellowship grant may provide support for the trainee's salary and benefits, stipend, and/or direct research expenses while working on a clinical and/or translational cancer research project.

Applicant/s must be committed to advancing patient-oriented research. The successful applicant must:

  • Be sponsored by a mentor from an AACI member cancer center (one applicant permitted per institution).
  • Have completed at least one year of training in any oncology specialty and have at least one year of training remaining at an AACI member institution.
  • Show innovation with potential for major scientific or clinical advancement.
  • Have an appropriate mentor for the project.
  • Hold a professional degree of MD, PhD, PharmD, DO, or MD/PhD or foreign equivalency.
  • Not yet have been appointed to a faculty position, including that of instructor.

Because only one applicant is permitted per institution, qualified applicants much submit a one page abstract including name and mentor to Pam Iadarola,, by December 2. Abstracts will be reviewed by a JPWCC Advisory Board Subcommittee, and the applicant will be notified soon thereafter. Get more information.

Ladies Auxiliary VFW Two-Year, $100,000 Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

The Ladies Auxiliary VFW has invited U.S. universities, hospitals and other institutions to nominate one individual that could devote two years to full-time cancer research.

The applicant must be:

  • A U.S. citizen.
  • Nominated by the person who will be supervising the lab that the researcher will be working.
  • Qualified in a specific cancer-related specialty and proposed research project must be cancer-related.
  • A doctoral candidate by July 1, 2014. If candidate does not have the degree by the time of application, please indicate date expected on the application form. Willing to have the proposed research be their principal professional responsibility during the fellowship.

The funds are to be used as a salary or stipend, which may cover fringe benefits. If the institution's normal postdoctoral salary is greater than $50,000 per year, it is acceptable for the institution to supplement the salary. If the normal salary is less than $50,000, the excess funds may be used for lab equipment or supplies. During the two-year term of this fellowship, the researcher may not receive other funding toward his or her salary except as just described.

Because only one applicant is permitted per institution, qualified applicants much submit a one page abstract including name and mentor to Pam Iadarola ( by December 2. Abstracts will be reviewed by a JPWCC Advisory Board Subcommittee, and the applicant will be notified soon thereafter. Get more information.

The Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation Grant Opportunity

The Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation (JMNMF) is seeking applicants for the 2014 Research Scholar Award (RSA), a grant established in 2006 to give recognition and support to outstanding graduate students actively involved in melanoma research with the purpose of encouraging the best and brightest of young scientists to make melanoma research the focus of their academic training and, hopefully, long-term career path.

Qualified candidates should submit a completed application with a brief description of their melanoma research project currently underway, including key objectives and expected outcomes, timelines and all other pertinent information, no later than December 2, 2013.

For more information or to access the application, click here.



  • Cancer Center Colloquium
    • Friday, November 22 at noon in the Class of '62 Auditorium
    • Featured Speaker: Ralph W. de Vere White, M.D., Director, UC Davis Cancer Center
    • Topic: "miRNA's in Prostate Cancer, Can We Get it to Clinic?"
  • Town Hall Meetings
    • Wednesday, December 18 from 4-5 p.m. in the K-307 Auditorium
    • Thursday, December 19 from 7:30-8:30 a.m. in the WCC main conference room
  • Integrative Oncology Lecture Series
    • Tuesday, December 17 from 5:30-7p.m. in the Luellen Patient Resource Room
    • Topic: Meditation and Journaling Tools
    • All events are free and open to the public
  • Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Brass Ensemble performance
    • Friday, December 20
    • 1p.m., Wilmot Cancer Center Atrium