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Vol. 2, No. 4                                                                                                                    Feb. 20, 2019

Cancer Institute Member Spotlight

Pebbles Fagan, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Professor and Director of the Center for the Study of Tobacco
Department of Health Behavior and Health Education
UAMS College of Public Health
Dr. Fagan's research lab is dedicated to understanding the social, biological and environmental factors that influence tobacco and cancer health disparities and identifying effective policies, and community and clinical interventions that reduce disparities. Read more>
Envoys to Host 10th Annual

Memphis-based band Dr. Zarr’s Amazing Funk Monster will perform at RockStar Lounge on April 5.
One-hundred percent of the net proceeds from this event fund research at the Cancer Institute.

You may have heard about a volunteer group called the Envoys, but you may not be familiar with their mission or how their work benefits the Cancer Institute’s research programs.

The Envoys are advocates for the Cancer Institute who advance our outreach efforts in the community. One of their main goals is to provide funding for our annual Seeds of Science pilot research grants. The 2019 Seeds of Science pilot grants were presented at a reception Jan. 31, which also included presentation of a small grant award funded by proceeds from the Village Walk for Cancer Research.

Each year, the Envoys host RockStar Lounge, a fundraising event from which 100 percent of the net proceeds benefit the Seeds of Science grant awards. Since the program was established in 2013, the Envoys have funded 22 research grants totaling more than $230,000.

The 10th annual RockStar Lounge is set for April 5 at Cajun’s Wharf and will include live music by the Memphis-based band Dr. Zarr’s Amazing Funk Monster. Guests also will enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres, wine, beer and specialty cocktails.

Tickets for UAMS faculty, staff and students will be on sale for $35 each from March 1-22 and may be purchased in the Cancer Institute Foundation office on the 11th floor. There is a limit of two discount tickets per person. General admission tickets are $50 in advance and $75 at the door.

You are encouraged to attend this fun event that directly supports our research programs.

RockStar Lounge Presenting Sponsors are Natalie and Win Rockefeller; Tribute Sponsor is Arkansas Federal Credit Union. Visit the website for a full list of sponsors.
The 2019 Seeds of Science grant recipients from the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute are (left to right) Zhiqiang Qin, M.D., Ph.D.; Brendan Frett, Ph.D.; Stephanie Byrum, Ph.D.; Samantha Kendrick, Ph.D.; Alicia Byrd, Ph.D.; and Robert Eoff, Ph.D.

Seeds of Science:
Moving Cancer Research Forward

The 2019 Seeds of Science grant recipients were asked how their project will help move cancer research forward. Their answers are below:
Samantha Kendrick, Ph.D., and Brendan Frett, Ph.D.
Small Grant Award Co-Recipients
Proteolysis targeting chimera (PROTAC) technology is a powerful technique to selectively position proteins for complete inactivation. Using the PROTAC strategy, we will generate bifunctional, small molecules capable of degrading the Nek2 (NIMA Related Kinase 2) cell cycle kinase in aggressive lymphoma. This Seeds of Science proposal will generate first-in-class Nek2 PROTACs and justify protein degradation as a method to enhance Nek2 targeted therapy and allow further exploration of Nek2 biology in future studies in lymphoma and other cancers with high Nek2 expression.
Alicia Byrd, Ph.D., and Stephanie Byrum, Ph.D.
Pilot Grant Co-Recipients
This project will enhance our understanding of how DNA damage alters growth in cancer cells and provide new avenues for cancer treatment by revealing changes in the response to DNA damage that cancer cells depend on for growth.  We will investigate the regulation of the DNA damage response pathways in a cell cycle dependent manner by probing the regulation of these critical pathways at both the total protein and post-translational modification levels in a global manner using proteomics, which will increase our understanding of how proteins are expressed and activated during different cellular processes, such as DNA damage repair. With this information, we can develop novel therapeutic strategies specifically related to the enhancement of DNA damage repair mechanisms and increase patient survival.
Zhiqiang Qin, M.D., Ph.D.
Pilot Grant Recipient
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) represents the major subtype of lung cancer, which has the leading mortality and morbidity in United States (especially in Arkansas) due to a lack of specific and effective treatment. Our data indicate that one of the translation initiation factors, EIF4G1, plays a critical role in NSCLC pathogenesis and serves as a novel therapeutic target for NSCLC treatment. Completion of this study will provide the framework for the development of clinical trials evaluating EIF4G1 targeted therapy in NSCLC patients.​
Robert Eoff, Ph.D.
Pilot Grant Recipient
The Seeds of Science award will allow us to develop models of glioblastoma that more closely resemble the molecular phenotypes observed in clinical settings. With these new tools in hand, we will be able to test our hypotheses related to glioblastoma stem cell biology and evaluate the efficacy of a new targeted therapeutic for glioblastomas developed by our research team here at UAMS.
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