Faculty and Staff News
IU School of Medicine researchers discover gamechanger combination drug for triple negative breast cancer
A team of IU School of Medicine researchers has developed a novel antibody-drug conjugate for treating triple negative breast cancer. The study, led by senior author Xiongbin Lu, PhD, Vera Bradley Foundation Professor of Breast Cancer Innovation at IU School of Medicine, has been published in the prestigious interdisciplinary medical journal, Science Translational Medicine.
Triple negative breast cancer accounts for about 15 percent of all breast cancer cases. When a patient tests negative for estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors and has low levels of a protein called HER2, the patient is considered to have “triple negative” breast cancer. Patients with triple negative breast cancer typically have the poorest prognosis because there are not very many treatment options.
All breast cancers are often missing a chromosome fragment known as 17p, which contains genes that can help your body suppress cancerous tumors.
Lu and his team combined trastuzumab—a targeted cancer drug for HER2-positive breast cancer patients—with α-amanitin, a small-molecule inhibitor which is originally isolated from a toxic mushroom, to create a novel drug called T-Ama. Even though historically trastuzumab has not been effective at targeting tumors for triple negative breast cancer patients by itself, Lu and his team found that T-Ama was effective at killing breast cancer cells with low HER2 levels in animal models during their study. They also determined that the loss of chromosome 17p makes the tumor cells more likely to respond to α-amanitin.
“Our big question was whether we could find a new drug which can efficiently kill cancer cells and also enhance the immune response of tumors to cancer immunotherapy,” said Lu, who is also a researcher at the IU Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Our work aims to fulfill both of those.”
For more on this groundbreaking research, visit the Newsroom.
Indiana lowers COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to 60+
Individuals age 60 and older are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, according to new guidelines released by the State of Indiana this week. As a reminder, individuals currently able to get the vaccine include:
- Individuals age 60 or older.
- Those who work or volunteer in health care and have (physical or close) contact or face-to-face interactions with patients.
- Those who have exposure to COVID-19 infectious material.
IU Box transitions to read-only on Monday
Faculty and staff are reminded that IU Box will transition to read-only on Monday, March 1, and will retire from university-wide use on Monday, May 10.
There may be conditions under which you may need to keep a Box account tied to your IU email address. (For example, if you are collaborating on a research project in a folder owned by another Box school, such as the University of Illinois, or a professional organization to which you belong.) To accommodate this need, all Box users at IU can choose to convert their IU Box account to a personal “lite” account hosted by Box.com.
In the news: Dbeibo offers details on COVID-19 vaccination in IndyStar article
Lana Dbeibo, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine and director of vaccine initiatives for IU’s COVID-19 Medica Response Team, recently spoke with the IndyStar for an article about resuming normal activities following vaccination. Dbeibo specifically addressed mask wearing for those who have received the vaccine. Find out why mask wearing is still important post-vaccination, especially when around those who have not been vaccinated. Read the story.
Advances in triple negative breast cancer: Recording of PHI Grand Challenge roundtable now available
If you missed this month’s roundtable focusing on the Precision Health Initiative Grand Challenge and advances in triple negative breast cancer, the full recording is now available. View the virtual discussion, which featured perspectives and insights from IU School of Medicine faculty Tatiana Foroud, PhD, Milan Radovich, PhD, and Bryan Schneider, MD.
Faculty and Staff News
Faculty election ballots due next Friday
The deadline to submit your faculty election ballot for the 2021-2022 academic year is Friday, March 5. Those who are eligible to vote received an email in their IU email accounts with a link to the ballot.
Annual faculty elections to committees and for department representatives and offices signify an opportunity to participate in IU School of Medicine’s important work. During this time of great change, it’s especially vital that your voice be heard.
Questions about the election? Contact Jessica Swanson at email@example.com.
IU launches new job framework for appointed staff; get the details
Earlier this week, Indiana University launched a new job framework for appointed staff. Creating a framework that is both consistent and transparent, the new job framework retired the university's classification structures—eliminating labels like “professional,” “service” and “support.”
Human Resources wants staff to know that while the new job framework is a large step forward in enhancing careers at IU, it sets the stage for what comes next.
“‘Rethinking careers at IU’ was chosen as the tagline for the Job Framework Redesign Project—it's fitting because this change offers much more than a new classification structure," said IU Vice President for Human Resources John Whelan. “The new framework is an essential step in the larger effort of rethinking how staff chart their career, change jobs, grow, develop skills and plan for success at IU.”
For full details on the new framework, read News at IU.
IU now offering symptomatic COVID-19 testing on all campuses
Testing is now available through IU for faculty, staff and students who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Symptomatic testing is available on all IU campuses. Find out how it works. Note that if your test is positive, you’ll received detailed instructions from IU contact tracers about isolation and next steps.
Apply for Kelley School of Business partnership programs
As academic health centers grow into larger and more complex systems, physician leaders must be able to confront and execute a wider array of business decisions than ever before. In response to this growing demand for greater business acumen, IU School of Medicine has partnered with IU Kelley School of Business to offer a series of leadership development programs. Check the website for details on these programs. Application deadlines vary.
Patricia Treadwell Women in Medicine Lecture is Monday
Marly Bradley, MD, JD, FAAP, will be the featured speaker at the 2021 Patricia Treadwell Women in Medicine lecture. The lecture will be held from noon-1 pm, on Monday, March 1.
Honoring Treadwell’s 40 years of service to the IU School of Medicine community, this lecture explores how the intersections of race and gender affect academic medicine and the health sciences professions. Patricia Treadwell, MD, currently serves as special advisor to the dean and is chief diversity officer at IU School of Medicine.
Both Treadwell and Bradley have unique experiences as Black women in medicine—experiences that motivate them to improve inclusivity in academic medicine and empower future physicians. Read the Faculty News blog post for more details and register for the lecture.
Sign up for April 22 IU School of Medicine Education Day
The second annual IU School of Medicine Education Day will be held from noon-5 pm on Thursday, April 22. Focusing on “Adaptability in Medical Education,” Education Day offers an opportunity for students, residents, fellows, faculty and staff from all departments and campuses to showcase their medical education research. Oral presentations, small group discussions, workshops and poster sessions will be featured. Registration is now open for the virtual event, and check out the Research in Medical Education blog post for more details.
Save the date: Riley Children’s Health pediatric conference is May 12-13
Riley Children’s Health will host its 56th annual pediatric conference on Wednesday, May 12, and Thursday, May 13. The theme of this year’s virtual conference is “Learning from 2020 to Shape the Future of Children’s Health.” View the conference website for details and registration.
Deadline is April 9 to apply for IUSCCC William Wright scholarship
Faculty reminder for students: The IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center William J. Wright Scholarship Fund rewards second- and third-year medical students conducting cancer research and who wish to pursue a career in the care of patients with cancer. Selection criteria also include students who have displayed strong humanistic qualities throughout their medical school career.
The expectation for this award is that the student will devote at least two months of their school year to a project that will further the care of patients with cancer, including a formal basic, translational or clinical science research project, quality improvement project, health outcomes research, or cancer awareness program. Students need to identify a mentor and a research project, which should be included in the application. Awardees must attend Cancer Research Day (date to be determined) either in person or virtually.
Application deadline is Friday, April 9, and details are available. Note: Students with research grants that already support their education are not eligible.
HIV ECHO series begins this week
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) will be offered twice monthly (second and fourth Thursday) beginning Thursday, February 25. Topics for this year include cultural competency, consent for HIV testing, HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) co-diagnosis, HIV stigma and social determinants of health, and insurance barriers. The program is free for Indiana health care professionals. Register for the program.
Tonight and Friday: Faculty to participate in COVID-19 vaccine discussions for minority communities; events sponsored by IU Health
IU School of Medicine faculty members are participating in two vaccine discussions for minority communities. Indiana University Health is a host for both events.
Latino Community Assembly – COVID-19
Thursday, February 25: 6-7:30 pm
This Facebook event is free and completely in Spanish. Ruben Hernandez, MD, assistant professor of clinical family medicine, will answer questions and provide current information on COVID-19. Hosts: Indiana Latino Institute, IU Health, Latino Health Organization, Marion County Department of Health and Indiana Department of Health.
COVID-19 Vaccine and African Americans in Indiana
Friday, February 26: 11 am-12:30 pm
The Indiana Minority Health Coalition is convening a panel of experts to discuss COVID-19 vaccination and African Americans in Indiana. In addition to addressing vaccination efforts and the impact the pandemic has had on our communities and businesses, special consideration will be given toward the historical trauma and distrust with vaccination among African Americans. Lauren Nephew, MD, assistant professor of medicine, and Lana Dbeibo, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine, are featured panelists. Register for the Zoom event.