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Sylvester Hosts Annual Zubrod Memorial Lecture


The Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center proudly hosted the 11th Annual Zubrod Memorial Lecture and Cancer Research Poster Session on May 21. This year’s distinguished lecturer was Mario R. Capecchi, Ph.D., professor of biology and human genetics at Howard Hughes Medical Center at the University of Utah.

Talking about his work, Joseph D. Rosenblatt, M.D., professor of medicine and interim director of Sylvester, commented that Capecchi’s life reads like a Hollywood movie script. Born in Verona, Italy, Capecchi’s mother was taken to a Nazi war camp when he was only four years old. The child who lived on the streets for three years wound up as an assistant professor of biochemistry at Harvard University, worked with Dr. James D. Watson, co-discoverer of the DNA structure, and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 2007.

Marc Lippman, M.D., Stanley and Kathleen Glaser Professor and chair of medicine, and deputy director of Sylvester, formally introduced Capecchi by talking about his “extraordinary discoveries” and listing just some of his numerous awards earned over the years.

Capecchi is best known for pioneering the technology of gene targeting in mouse embryo-derived stem (ES) cells. This allows scientists to create mice with mutations in any desired gene by choosing which gene to mutate, giving the researcher complete freedom in manipulating DNA sequences in the genome of living mice. In his lecture, Capecchi spoke about modeling human cancer in the mouse, and how that can help investigators learn more about the process of how cancer develops.

During the ceremony portion of the day, Eckhard R. Podack, M.D., Ph.D., Sylvester Distinguished Professor and chairman of microbiology and immunology at the Miller School, was named the 2010 Outstanding Cancer Researcher. He spoke about the “fun” in research, in “making new discoveries.” Podack collaborates on several interdisciplinary research studies, including the development of a Phase I clinical trial for lung cancer.

The annual lecture and poster competition are held in honor of Charles Gordon Zubrod, M.D., who worked at the University of Miami for 25 years, heading up what would become the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. His 14 years of work at the National Cancer Institute helped develop a chemotherapy research program and led to his renown as the “father of cancer chemotherapy” and a pioneer in clinical trials.

The Cancer Research Poster Session wrapped up the afternoon, yielding five winners. In the Basic Science category, the Best Graduate Student winner was Robert Newman, Ph.D. candidate, for his study titled “Effective CD8 T-cell Expansion in Murine Autologous Bone Marrow Transplantation Recipients Induced by Vaccination with Lymphoma Cells Secreting gp-96-Ig Heat Shock Fusion Protein.”

Yingqiu Xie, Ph.D., senior research associate, won the Basic Science, Post-Doctoral Fellow category with “SRC Signaling Promotes Ligand Activated ER Proteolysis.” The Best Overall Basic Science poster award was given to Fayi Wu, M.D., Ph.D., post-doctoral associate, for “A Novel Vav3 Binding Partner Potentiates Androgen Receptor Activity.”

In the Clinical and Population Studies category, Best Fellow/Resident poster went to Subhasis Misra, M.D., surgical resident, for “The Role of Endoscopic Ultrasound in Assessing Tumor Response and Staging Post Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy in Esophageal Cancer.”

Best Overall Clinical and Population Studies poster was awarded to Ulas Darda Bayraktar, M.D., hematology-oncology at Jackson Memorial Hospital, for “The Use of High-Dose Azidothymidine in Combination with Chemotherapy Upfront is an Effective Treatment Approach for Gamma-Herpes Virus-Related non-Hodgkin’s Lymphomas.”

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Lisa  Worley
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University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
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