Faculty and Staff News
IU cancer researcher unlocks new approach for possible pancreatic cancer treatment
Researchers at the IU Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center have identified how restoring a missing molecule in pancreatic fibrosis could help deliver treatments to cancer cells.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers with only 10.8 percent of people surviving five years after diagnosis. One risk factor for pancreatic cancer is chronic pancreatitis, a fibroinflammatory disease. In response to internal injury or damage, the body produces a fibrous connective tissue—much like scar tissue—in a process called fibrosis. Pancreatic fibrosis occurs in both pancreatic cancer and chronic pancreatitis.
“These pancreatic cancer cells are very smart; they develop this thick, fibrotic tissue around the tumors. That poses a major barrier for the drug delivery when clinicians try to target these tumors because the therapies cannot penetrate these tumors,” said Janaiah Kota, PhD, assistant professor of medical and molecular genetics at IU School of Medicine and a researcher at the IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Kota and colleagues found that a molecule called microRNA-29a (miR-29a) functions as an anti-fibrosis and anti-inflammatory in the pancreas. Using this molecule in drug therapy could help stop fibrosis so that treatments could reach the cancer cells. Currently, there are no FDA-approved therapies to reduce fibrosis.
“This tiny molecule is missing in the pancreas and, more broadly, the fibrotic tissue. When we put this molecule back in cells, it significantly reduces the potential for cancer cells to develop fibrotic tissue around the tumors,” Kota said.
Register for this month’s All School Meeting
Don’t miss the chance to learn about important IU School of Medicine updates at the Fall All School Meeting on Tuesday, September 28. All faculty, staff and learners are invited to attend the meeting, which will be held from 4:30-6 pm on Zoom. The event will be hosted by IU School of Medicine Dean Jay L. Hess, MD, PhD, MHSA, and the Faculty Steering Committee. There will be opportunities to ask questions. Register for the meeting.
Tomorrow is final day to nominate staff for IU School of Medicine awards
The IU School of Medicine staff recognition awards provide a visible and powerful way to honor the behaviors, achievements and outcomes that are most important to advancing the school. The deadline to submit nominations for the following staff awards is Friday, September 3. Award descriptions, guidelines and previous winners are available at the links below.
On the blog: Experience an empowering space for LGBTQ+ STEM students
Cultivating environments and communities that nurture innovation, leadership and advocacy is the mission of Out in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (oSTEM) Incorporated, a national organization that empowers LGBTQ+ people in STEM to succeed personally, academically and professionally. IU School of Medicine and the IUPUI School of Science brought a chapter of the national organization to the Indianapolis campus in 2018, called Graduate Out in STEM (GoSTEM).
Read the Grad Student Life blog post for more on Graduate Out in STEM.
Researcher receives $2.5 million grant to develop lung cancer treatment
A researcher at the IU Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center received a five-year, $2.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to develop a novel therapy to treat lung cancer.
The research led by John Turchi, PhD, uses a small drug-like molecule designed to disrupt the DNA repair pathways that allow lung cancer cells to continue replicating and tumors to grow. Turchi is the Tom and Julie Wood Family Foundation Professor of Lung Cancer Research at Indiana University School of Medicine.
The body repairs DNA damage daily from things such as UV rays from the sun, toxins in the air and chemicals from cigarettes. Turchi researches a protein called replication protein A (RPA), which binds to single-strand DNA to signal DNA damage response (DDR) to repair the damage and make new cells.
“The novel therapeutics we are developing would treat patients who often have limited therapeutic options, which include smoking-induced lung cancers,” Turchi said. “We think this group of patients could benefit from what we’ve learned over the last 30 years from our understanding of this pathway.”
For more details on the treatment, visit the Newsroom.
IU Ventures renews investment in Kelley’s biotech company
IU Ventures has made a $100,000 follow-on investment in Indianapolis-based Apexian Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage biotechnology company led by Mark R. Kelley, PhD, Betty and Earl Herr Professor of Pediatric Oncology Research. The company is focused on developing therapeutic agents to treat cancer and several other diseases. Its lead drug candidate, APX3330, targets a molecule that demonstrates a role in certain pediatric and adult cancers, as well as diabetic macular edema, diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Read more from IU Ventures.
Indiana CTSI Annual Meeting is September 24; register today
Register to attend the 2021 Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI) Annual Meeting, which will be presented in a hybrid format, supporting both in-person and remote participation, on Friday, September 24.
The keynote speaker for the annual meeting is Nancy J. Brown, MD, dean, Yale School of Medicine. Brown is also the recipient of this year’s August M. Watanabe Prize in Translational Research. Her research helped inform the focus of this year’s annual meeting, “Preventing the Smoldering Pandemic of Obesity and the Metabolic Syndrome.”
View the full meeting agenda.
Faculty and Staff News
DEI open house for residency and fellowship applicants is November 18
The IU School of Medicine Office of Graduate Medical Education and the Office of Diversity Affairs will host a diversity, equity and inclusion open house for residency and fellowship applicants from 6-7:30 pm on Thursday, November 18. The virtual event will be hosted on Zoom, with content geared toward applicants who are underrepresented in medicine. Learn more and register.
Apply for business management assistance from IU Kelley MBA students
The Indiana CTSI and IU Kelley School of Business are offering an opportunity to receive business management assistance from teams of Kelley students for any cores, resources, programs and units that provide a central service to CTSI investigators.
Students are part of the IU Bloomington Kelley residential MBA program independent study program. Duration of assistance is eight weeks. Selected awardees will be expected to engage with the MBA students on the initial project scope, additional follow-up or on-site meetings and a final project close-out. Selected projects will begin in early March 2022 and will be completed by early May 2022.
Application deadline is Monday, November 22. Find out more.
Inaugural lecture honoring George H. Rawls, MD, is September 23
The inaugural George H. Rawls, MD, Memorial Lecture on the History of Minorities and Medicine will be held at 7 pm, on Thursday, September 23. Featured speaker for the virtual event is Melody McCloud, MD, founder and medical director, Atlanta Women’s Health Care. The title of McCloud’s presentation is “Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler: The First Black Female Physician in the U.S. (1864).” Opening remarks will be made by Jerome Adams, MD, former student of Rawls and former U.S. Surgeon General.
George H. Rawls, MD (1928-2020), clinical professor of surgery and founding director of the Master of Science in Medical Science program at IU School of Medicine, was a pioneer for Black surgeons in the Indianapolis community and was a lifelong advocate for advancing minority representation in medicine.
The Indiana Medical History Museum established the annual lecture series to honor his memory and recognize his accomplishments. Register for the September 23 event.
Join the walk for mental health awareness on September 12
The annual Out of the Darkness Walk will step off at White River State Park Celebration Plaza at 10:30 am, Sunday, September 12. Sponsored by the IU School of Medicine Stigma Stompers, the event aims to raise awareness of mental health issues and suicide prevention. Participants will meet outside the visitor center at White River State Park (on the side facing the children’s maze). Learn more about the walk and join the team.
Get a ‘name badge buddy’ to share your preferred pronouns
A pronoun is a word used to refer to either the people who are talking (like I or you) or a person being talked about in the third person (like she/her, he/him and they/them). Since some pronouns are gendered (she/her and he/him), it’s important to be intentional about the way pronouns are used at work to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all.
IU School of Medicine Faculty Affairs, Professional Development and Diversity is offering pronoun “name badge buddies,” in addition to a document that outlines why pronouns matter, some tips on pronoun etiquette and a chart offering examples of pronouns in use. Fill out this form to request a badge buddy. With questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take part in the Medical Miles Fun Run & Walk on October 23
The IU School of Medicine Department of Family Medicine will host the third annual Medical Miles Fun Run & Walk from 9-11 am on Saturday, October 23. The event will be held at the Indianapolis downtown canal. Portions of the proceeds will support the medical student outreach clinic affiliated with the Department of Family Medicine. Sign up today to lock in your position at the starting line.
IU Health to serve as sports medicine provider for IU Athletics
Indiana University Health has signed a 10-year agreement with Indiana University Athletics to serve as the official health care and sports medicine provider for IU’s 700 student-athletes.
“Providing the best care to student-athletes presents a set of particular challenges that our team of highly skilled physicians are uniquely qualified to handle,” said Kevin Gebke, MD, president, IU Health Community Medicine and chair of the Department of Family Medicine at IU School of Medicine. “The student-athletes’ access to IU Health’s full spectrum of health care services ensures a holistic and personalized approach to caring for their individual needs both physically and mentally.”
Harris named ‘Indiana Person of Achievement’ by ADL Midwest
The Midwest chapter of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the world’s largest anti-hate organization, has selected Lisa Harris, MD, CEO of Eskenazi Health, as an Indiana Person of Achievement honoree. The recognition honors “those whose involvement in business and community programs brings together people of all races, religions and ethnic backgrounds to join in the fight against bigotry and discrimination.”
Harris, IU School of Medicine associate dean for Eskenazi Health Affairs, was honored in a virtual ceremony on Wednesday, September 1.