October 2013

Funding Opportunities

Call for Applications: Wilmot Cancer Research Seed Grants

The Wilmot Cancer Center will be awarding $250,000 to fund innovative and collaborative cancer research initiatives as part of its bi-annual program.

Since Jonathan Friedberg, M.D., director of the Wilmot Cancer Center, and Hucky Land, Ph.D., director of research and co-director of the Wilmot Cancer Center, began working on this program together, $600,000 has been distributed in seed grant funding to support the development of new research projects. A total of $1,025,000 has been awarded since 2011.

Here are the details for the three RFAs:

  • $50,000 in Support for Breast Cancer Research—The first award is designated to support one innovative research project relating to breast cancer diagnosis, treatment or prevention in the areas of basic, translational, behavioral or epidemiological breast cancer research. The award will be based on scientific merit and innovation. Up to $50,000 of funding may be requested for one year.
  • $50,000 in Support for Behavioral, Clinical, or Epidemiological Cancer Research—Two separate individual or collaborative research projects will be awarded up to $25,000 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.
  • $150,000 in Support for Basic or Translational Cancer Research—Three separate individuals or collaborative research projects will be awarded up to $50,000 for one year. Any investigator will qualify only once each as a principle and/or co-investigator, and principle investigators may only hold a single pilot grant award at any given time.


All applications must be submitted by Friday, November 1 with an anticipated January 1, 2014 start date for funding. Applications should be submitted electronically to Pam Iadarola, research administrator:

Get more information here, or email/call Pam: 275-1537.

Annual Wilmot Fellowship Applications

The Wilmot Cancer Center Fellowship Program provides funds to allow physicians to undertake research of the highest quality for investigating the causes, diagnosis, treatment or prevention of cancer. The program's goal is to provide research training that will prepare physicians to undertake and maintain their own independent careers in cancer research and training.

The Wilmot post-doctoral fellowship supports mentored research training for physicians with M.D. or M.D. /Ph.D. degrees who have completed their residency training and intend to pursue an academic career in clinical, translational or basic cancer research.

The Fellowship provides funding for up to three years. Fellows receive an annual stipend comparable to those awarded by many national foundations. In addition, each Fellow receives an annual supply allowance and a travel allowance to provide support for attending national or international scientific conferences.

All applications are due on December 1, 2013 with an anticipated June 1, 2014 start date for funding. Applications should be submitted to Brian Martin, associate director for administration:

Get more information:

WCC News

URMC First in Region to Offer HER2 FISH Testing for Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is not a 'one size fits all' disease, and now women throughout the Rochester area will have quicker access to a test that measures the HER2/neu status of their tumor, enabling a better match to the correct treatment. The URMC has the capability to test 500 cases a year for HER2 gene amplification in breast cancer, an important genetic biomarker, which is found in more than 15 percent of breast cancers.

HER2/neu, or Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2, regulates the normal growth of cells. When the HER2 gene is amplified, too many copies of the protein being present, tumors are usually more aggressive and require specialized treatment. With testing facilities as far away as Calif., though, some local women in need of this specialized testing were apt to experience delays between diagnosis and knowing if this biomarker was indicated on their pathology report.

Since 2012 the URMC has been investing in the equipment, personnel and training to offer this new service throughout the region. The specific test is known as Fluorescence in Situ Hybridization (FISH). Accurate measurement of the HER2 gene status is important because many women can substantially benefit from several new treatments that target this gene, such as trastuzumab (Herceptin), lapatinib (Tykerb), pertuzumab (Perjeta) and T-DM1 (Kadcyla).

Dr. David Hicks, director of Surgical Pathology, will be discussing this topic further, as well as new guideline recommendations out this week on HER2 testing, at the multidisciplinary breast conference on October 9 from 12-1 p.m. in the WCC Conference Center (2.0727).

Patti Murray Named 2013 Upstate New York Oncology Nurse of the Year by March of Dimes

Patti Murray, associate director of the Wilmot Cancer Center, was among more than a dozen nursing professionals that were honored at the third annual March of Dimes Upstate New York Nurse of the Year Awards on September 20. Patti was named 2013 Upstate New York Oncology Nurse of the Year, chosen for her steadfast commitment to excellence in oncology nursing and the various projects she's spearheaded for the Cancer Center.

When asked what she was most proud of Patti stated, "I am most proud of the design for the vertical expansion in the Wilmot Cancer Center. It was designed to create an environment that is comforting and nurturing at the most difficult time in the lives of our patients and families."

Each year, the March of Dimes seeks nominees from Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and the Southern Tier.

Congratulations Patti on this outstanding and well deserved achievement!

Marilyn Ling Honored by Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester

Marilyn Ling, M.D., an associate profession in Radiation Oncology, is this year's recipient of the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester's (BCCR) 2013 Laurie Pask Heart & Hands Award. Dr. Ling received the award at the BCCR's 12th annual Artrageous Affair fundraiser, held September 28.

The Heart & Hands Award is named in honor of Laurie Pask, an early member of the BCCR's "Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer" support group. A breast cancer patient and a registered nurse, Laurie was a highly effective breast cancer advocate, and carried a message of hope to fellow patients prior to succumbing to the disease in 2008. The Heart & Hands Award is presented each year to a care provider whose work best exemplifies the balance of kindness, compassion, respect and science that Laurie demonstrated while providing care to her own patients.

Congratulations to Dr. Ling for this wonderful honor!


To complement the latest issue of Dialogue, the Wilmot Cancer Center's magazine, various faculty and staff from across the URMC were featured in a video to showcase the intensive collaboration that takes place among the more than 1,000 clinicians, nurses and scientists, pathologists, operations staff and volunteers at the Cancer Center. Check out the video below to hear what a typical day is like for just some of the many people that make the Cancer Center such a special place.

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Recently Published

Radiation Protection, Naturally

Could a spice be the answer to peeling, weepy, skin damage that can occur during radiation treatment for breast cancer? A recent study conducted by Julie Ryan, Ph.D., M.P.H., published in Radiation Research, showed that 88 percent of patients who did not take curcumin experienced serious skin problems, compared to only 29 percent of patients who did take the supplement.

Radiation dermatitis occurs in approximately 95 percent of patients receiving radiotherapy for breast cancer. Curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, could shield women from the common side effects of peeling, blistering and skin irritation. "Many anti-oxidants have properties that can defend both healthy and malignant cells from the effects of radiation. However, based on our studies, curcumin's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties seem to benefit good cells without helping the cancerous type," said Ryan.

Ryan and her team conducted a pilot study of 30 breast cancer patients and concluded that oral curcumin of 6.0 grams daily during radiation reduced the severity of dermatitis in patients. They are looking into the possibilities of topical applications of the compound and new formulas to improve effectiveness.

Study Reveals Reasons for Calls to Wilmot Cancer Center

If you're being treated for cancer and experiencing symptoms, what would cause you to pick up the phone and call your cancer center? Pain emerged as the number one reason, in a study of 563 patients, who reported 2,378 symptoms during 1,229 phone calls to the Wilmot Cancer Center.

Marie A. Flannery, Ph.D., R.N., assistant professor in the UR School of Nursing and a research assistant professor in Cancer Control, wanted to better understand the symptom priorities of patients when she launched the study, which was published in Oncology Nursing Forum.

The two most common ways to learn how patients are feeling is to wait for them to call, or ask them to report symptoms from a written checklist. Based on the checklist method, the scientific literature identifies fatigue as the single biggest complaint.

But Flannery wanted to know what caused people to spontaneously pick up the phone. Pain was reported twice as much as fatigue in her study sample. The next most frequently reported symptoms by telephone were fatigue, nausea, swelling, diarrhea and labored breathing. The study underlined the idea that pain is a complex subject; it's personal and subjective, and can also be under-reported due to fear that the cancer is getting worse, Flannery said.

As a result of her findings, the Wilmot Cancer Center instituted a new protocol for nurses who triage and answer all telephone calls – including supportive, follow-up calls back to the patient's home when a change is made in the pain management plan at a clinic appointment.

Read the full study

Lighting Up Can Bring You Down in Colorectal Surgery

A study in the Annals of Surgery found that smoking boosts the risk of complications like infection and pneumonia after some of the most common colorectal procedures, such as surgery for colon cancer or inflammatory bowel disease. Lead author Fergal J. Fleming, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Surgery, says this is the first large study to focus specifically on the effects of smoking after colorectal surgery. In this video, Fleming discusses the findings and what they mean for patients and physicians.

The study is the fruit of a research venture at the URMC known as the Surgical Health Outcomes & Research Enterprise, which aims to identify effective ways to organize, manage, finance and deliver quality care while reducing medical errors, controlling costs and improving patient safety.

Learn more about the study

Staff Profile

Wilmot Cancer Center Staff Profile: Susan Nelson

Position: Integrative Oncology Coordinator

Employed at URMC since: December 2012

What I love most about my job: Assisting patients and caregivers with finding healing modality resources.

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

When I’m not at work, I enjoy: Playing with my grandchildren, cooking, gardening and volunteering for the Victor Color Guard.

Something that people might be surprised to know about me: I have a new German shepherd puppy named Jasmine.

Last good movie I watched: I'm not really a movie person, but my favorite television series is The Bridge.


  • Wednesday, October 8
    • "What's New in HER2-Testing?" Recommendations for HER2-Testing in Breast Cancer: ASCO/CAP Clinical Practice Guideline Update (2013)
    • Cancer Center Conference Room, 2.0727
    • 12-1 p.m.
  • Thursday, October 17
    • Us TOO Prostate Cancer Town Hall Meeting
    • Cancer Center Conference Room, 2.0727
    • 8:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
    • Sponsored by Us TOO International Inc. and URMC's Department of Urology
    • For more information contact Patrick Fisher at or (585) 787-4011.
  • Friday, October 25
  • Saturday, October 26
    • 7th Annual Breast Health Day
    • Saunders Research Building
    • 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.
    • To register or for more information call 275-BRST
  • Tuesday, October 29
  • Sunday, November 10
  • Thursday, November 14
    • 18th Annual Scientific Symposium
    • Medical Research Building
    • 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

In the News

» Henrietta Post, "Pittsford Resident Stacey Bolger Reopens Fruit and Vegetable Stand to Benefit Wilmot Cancer Center" – October 2

Alisertib Is Active in Relapsed and Refractory Non-Hodgkin Lymphomas—October 1
» Cancer Discovery News, "Alisertib Is Active in Relapsed and Refractory Non-Hodgkin Lymphomas"
» The ASCO Post, "Phase II Study Shows Activity of Selective Aurora A Kinase Inhibitor Alisertib in Relapsed/Refractory Aggressive B- and T-Cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma"

» YNN, "Researchers Identify Genes That May Predict Aggression of Prostate Cancer" – September 25

» YNN, "Study: Married People Have Better Odds at Surviving Cancer" – September 25

Mental Fog with Tamoxifen is Real, Scientists Find Possible Antidote—September 17
» HealthDay, "Tamoxifen's Side Effects Are Real, Study Show" [Also appeared on U.S. News & World Report, Newsday & Yahoo! News]
» The ASCO Post, "Scientists Find Possible Antidote for Tamoxifen-Induced Fog"
» WXXI, "URMC Researchers Find Drug That Shows Promise in Easing "Mental Fog" From Cancer Treatment"
» The Independent (UK), "Breast Cancer Drug's 'Brain Fog' Side Effects are Real, Say Researchers"
» Science 2.0, "Tamoxifen's 'Mental Fog' is Real—So is a Possible Antidote"

Study Shows Kids' Use of Electronic Cigarettes Doubles—September 6
» WHEC Channel 10, "E-cigarette Use Up with Teens"
» WXXI, "E-Cigarette Use Doubles Among Middle & High School Students"
» YNN, "More Teens Trying e-Cigarettes"

» Democrat & Chronicle, "Dine Out for Wilmot" – September 16

» ADVANCE Healthcare Network, "Nixing Nicotine: Current Solutions in Smoking Cessation" – September 9

» WXXI, "School-aged drinking linked to higher breast cancer risk" — August 30

» Reuters, "Yoga Tied To Better Sleep After Cancer" – August 30

» Men's Health, "The Ex-Smoker's Plan to Stay Slim" – August 23


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