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2002 Scientific Report

  • Text
  • Institute
  • Report
  • Tumors
  • Protein
  • Signaling
  • Michigan
  • Molecular
  • Proteins
  • Laboratory

In a first for VARI and

In a first for VARI and the Grand Rapids community, Han-mo Koo helped develop a clinical trial for treating pancreatic cancer, which stems from work we began at NCI. This clinical trial is headed by Dr. Marianne Lange, together with Drs. Tim O’Rourke and Alan Campbell, through the Grand Rapids Clinical Oncology Program (GRCOP). The trial is managed by the GRCOP under the direction of Connie Szczepanek. This trial is unique in that it is the first Phase II trial to be developed locally and is locally managed through the GRCOP as a consortium. The members of the consortium are Battle Creek Health System (Battle Creek), Hackley Hospital (Muskegon), Holland Community Hospital (Holland), Metropolitan Hospital (Grand Rapids), Munson Medical Center (Traverse City), Spectrum Health (Grand Rapids), St. Mary’s Mercy Medical Center (Grand Rapids), and Mecosta County General Hospital (Big Rapids). One of the most important and dramatic changes occurring in cancer diagnosis and treatment is that we are moving from phenomenological approaches to molecular-based medicine. This will revolutionize the detection and treatment of cancer and, for that matter, of all pathological states, because visualized changes will be converted into quantifiable measurements. For example, Bin Teh’s laboratory—using gene microchips generated at VARI by Brian Haab’s lab—has discovered, in retrospective studies, alterations in the expression of specific genes in kidney cancer specimens that correlate with poor prognosis. The identification of these genes and their correlation with the aggressiveness of the disease at the time of diagnosis is helpful in identifying new targets for drug development that may lead to improved therapies for this group of patients. Using this technology, and in collaboration with urologists and pathologists from hospitals in Grand Rapids, the University of Chicago, and the University of Tokushima (Japan), Teh’s lab has molecular evidence that kidney cancers can be divided into five classes based on gene expression profiles. Similarly, together with members of the DeVos Children’s Hospital of Grand Rapids, they have identified gene expression profiles that correlate with Wilms’ tumors, a rare childhood kidney cancer that is refractory to treatment. Bin Teh’s lab has also collaborated with Drs. Lawrence Einhorn and Richard Foster from Indiana University, looking into testicular cancer that is refractory to chemotherapy. The VIII International Workshop on Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia (MEN) was organized by Bin Teh and held at VARI on June 16–18, 2002. The meeting was well attended, with over 180 researchers representing 18 countries (see page 85). VARI will host the Cancer Intervention 2002 meeting in Grand Rapids on October 2–6, 2002, at which we will explore progress on the fronts of cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prevention with the leading investigators in cancer intervention strategies. We are excited about bringing this cutting-edge science to the Grand Rapids medical community. This year we have implemented a memorandum of understanding with Michigan State University (MSU) that establishes a cooperative relationship to enhance graduate recruitment, education, and research training opportunities for selected students in doctoral programs in one or more of the biomedical and life sciences programs at MSU. Sara Courtneidge, Cindy Miranti, and Michael Weinreich have been appointed adjunct professors at MSU, and we anticipate graduate students from MSU training in VARI laboratories. The visual documentation of science sometimes produces images that are not only scientifically important, but aesthetically pleasing as works of art. One example is the photograph on the back cover of this report, contributed by Art Alberts, that shows the effects of a gene that negatively regulates cell motility. I hope you enjoy the other examples of nature’s artwork displayed throughout this report. In conclusion, I wish to express my appreciation and gratitude to all who have helped get us this far in a few short years. We are especially indebted to Jay Van Andel and his family and to all of our benefactors. Our community has many individuals who believe in what we are doing and have generously contributed to our research through the Hope on the Hill Foundation. We are very grateful for all the donations from organizations, individuals, and employees, as well as for the proceeds from fundraising events. It is very moving and encouraging that so many are partnering with us to build a center of excellence for world-class scientists and worldclass medical science. This support, both moral and financial, will enhance our ability to develop new knowledge and make new discoveries about cancer that will lead to better diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for treating this dreaded disease. 5

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