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Vol. 2, No. 5                                                                                                                  March 6, 2019

Cancer Institute Member Spotlight

Marie Burdine, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Surgery, Division of Surgical Research
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 
      (secondary appointment)
UAMS College of Medicine
It is the mission of the Burdine laboratory to work with surgical oncologists across UAMS to analyze the epigenetic profiles of gastrointestinal cancers in order to provide insight into the molecular mechanisms that drive gastrointestinal cancer progression and chemoresistance. Read more>
A New Cancer Research Shared Resource 

The Cancer Institute is excited to offer a new shared resource to assist UAMS investigators conducting cancer research in 2019 and beyond.

The Genomics Shared Resource, led by Donald Johann Jr., M.D., and managed by Owen Stephens, is now fully active and open for business. Below is a brief menu of available services.

DNA/RNA isolation
  • Cells
  • Tissue
  • FFPE
  • cfDNA from plasma or urine
NGS library preparation
  • WGS
  • Qiagen QIAseq panels for breast & lung cancer
  • RNA-Seq
Nucleic acid or NGS library QC
  • NanoDrop
  • Qubit
  • Advanced Analytical (now Agilent) Fragment Analyzer
  • qPCR library quantification &/or melt analysis
Illumina next-generation sequencing
  • HiSeq3000; up to 2.5 billion clusters
  • NextSeq; up to 400 million clusters
  • MiniSeq; up to 25 million clusters
Illumina Infinium BeadChip
  • Methylation EPIC: standard or FFPE DNA
Sage Science PippinHT
  • Isolation of sample fragments e.g. specific NGS library size
  • Exclusion of sample content e.g. adapter dimers
Droplet Digital PCR
  • Bio-Rad QX200
Please contact the Genomics Core technical director, Owen Stephens, at for information and pricing or log into iLab here.

The Genomics Shared Resource has been in development for the past two years. It joins the three established Cancer Institute Shared Resources of Biostatistics, Proteomics and Translational Pathology, the latter of which includes Experimental Pathology and the UAMS Tissue Bank.
What is NCI Designation?

Part II:  Why is NCI Designation important for a cancer center?

Being an NCI-Designated Cancer Center comes with many perks:

1. Direct monetary support 
  • The direct monetary support from NCI Designation would provide funding for the Cancer Institute's shared resources (cores). Currently, the Cancer Institute has five shared resources (Biomedical Informatics, Biostatistics, Genomics, Proteomics and Translational Pathology) and a clinical trials office (Cancer Clinical Trials and Regulatory Affairs). All would benefit directly from NCI Designation.
  • These funds also would support our direct strategic investment in research.
2. Indirect monetary gains
  • Attainment of NCI Designation is expected to have a $70 million economic impact on Arkansas annually.
3. The opportunity to be part of the national community of cancer centers
  • As a designated cancer center, we would be part of a network that works with NCI to drive funding opportunities and strategic planning for cancer research on the national stage.
4. Access, arguably the most significant perk of NCI Designation
  • Access to grant funding opportunities that are only available to NCI-Designated Cancer Centers would become available to us. Researchers at NCI-Designated Cancer Centers tend to be more successful at receiving grant funding from NCI, and in fact, about three-fourths of NCI grants are awarded to investigators at NCI-Designated Cancer Centers.
  • We also would gain access to cutting-edge clinical trials and investigative drugs that are only available to NCI-Designated Cancer Centers.
Being NCI Designated means we can give our cancer researchers access to the entire toolbox of research opportunities available to researchers at elite cancer centers. It essentially gives our cancer researchers the ticket to play in the big leagues.

While that all sounds impressive, one important question remains: Why do we, here in Arkansas, need to be in the big leagues?

The answer is simple: Because no one else is doing cancer research for Arkansans. No one else in the country is looking at our unique cancer demographics and opportunities to impact cancer quality of life and survivorship here in Arkansas.

As an applicant for NCI Designation, we have both the opportunity and requirement to show how we are going to conduct cancer research that is going to improve and save lives throughout Arkansas.

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