News

UACC researcher Jonathan H. Schatz, MD, awarded $1.59 million NCI grant to study drug resistance in lymphoma tumor treatment

Jonathan H. Schatz, MD, was recently awarded a 5-year, $1.59 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to study ways to effectively combat drug resistance when treating lymphoma — a study that may have wide-ranging impact when it comes to treating a variety of cancers.

The study, titled “A New Treatment Paradigm for ALK-Driven Cancers Exploiting Oncogene Overdose” officially began Sept. 19 and will run through 2019. Dr. Schatz and his team will examine growth mechanisms of tumors driven by anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) and how they develop resistance to treatment.

“As you treat these tumors with ALK inhibitors, the protein becomes over-expressed, generating resistance to the treatment, but this causes an oncogene overdose effect when the inhibitor is no longer present,” Dr. Schatz said. “Understanding this overdose effect is a major goal of the grant project. The results could teach us a lot about how to effectively treat these cases.”

Dr. Schatz is an assistant professor of medicine and a member of the University of Arizona Cancer Center’s Therapeutic Development Program. His clinical focus is in lymphoma.

This...

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Dr. Janko Nikolich-Žugich

Impact of Lifelong Cytomegalovirus Infection on Aging and the Immune System Focus of UA Research

The study, funded by a $2.3 million five-year NIH grant, is critically important to understanding how to improve older adults’ responses to vaccination against the infectious diseases that remain among the major causes of mortality of those over age 65.

A virus that infects us when we’re young and then hides in our cells throughout our lives without causing symptoms may weaken the ability of our immune system to defend  against influenza, West Nile or other viruses as we age.

How the cytomegalovirus (CMV) – one of the herpes viruses – impacts the aging of our immune system is being studied by researchers at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, funded by a $2.3 million five-year grant from the National Institute on Aging/National Institutes of Health.

“It is critically important to understand the causes and consequences of lifelong CMV infection for immunity and aging. CMV is present in 70 to 90 percent of people over 65, which by 2050 will translate into 70 million people in the United States and more than 1 billion people in the world,” said Janko Nikolich-Žugich, MD, PhD, chairman of the...

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UA Valley Fever Center for Excellence Hosts Events in Observance of Valley Fever Awareness Week 2014, Nov. 8-16

The University of Arizona Valley Fever Center for Excellence will host free events in Tucson and Phoenix for the public and health professionals in observance of the 12th annual Valley Fever Awareness Week, Nov. 8-16, recently proclaimed by Gov. Jan Brewer “in recognition of the outstanding treatment and research conducted by the Valley Fever Center for Excellence at the University of Arizona, its new clinical center at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, and for the advances in Valley Fever education and public health by the Arizona Department of Health Services.” 

The events provide opportunities to hear experts and ask questions about Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis), which primarily is a disease of the lungs common in the Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico. 

Fully two-thirds of the approximately 150,000 new Valley Fever infections that occur annually in the United States affect Arizonans, mostly in Maricopa County. Pets, especially dogs, also are susceptible. Some patients take many months to recover and each year Valley Fever is responsible for several dozen deaths. 

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University of Arizona, Phoenix Break Ground on New Downtown Project

With a shovel of dirt, construction began Thursday on the 10-story Biosciences Partnership Building; the latest development in downtown Phoenix.

University of Arizona President Ann Weaver Hart and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton tilled the soil ceremoniously marking the beginning of the 2-year design and construction for the 245,000-square foot research building on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus.

“This building will foster collaborations with scientists that will lead to more cures, better treatments and bring more federal and private dollars to the state,” said President Hart. “We will pursue expanded partnerships with industry that we hope will lead to groundbreaking discoveries in the areas of neuroscience, cardiovascular and thoracic science. This building will allow us to further these efforts and, ultimately, improve lives."

As announced earlier this year by the university and the City of Phoenix, plans are in place to construct the 10-story, 245,000-square-foot research building just north of the Health Sciences Education Building on the downtown campus.

“This building will serve the medical school and beyond with important research and faculty to...

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‘PANDA Children’s Neurological Center’ Opens at the University of Arizona Medical Center Children’s Multispecialty Clinic on Wilmot

Thanks to the generosity and fundraising efforts of the UA Steele Children’s Research Center women’s board in Phoenix, the PANDA Children’s Neurological Center now is open.

Known as PANDA (People Acting Now Discover Answers), the group raised about $1 million to establish the center and fund recruitment of neurological specialists and research in this area.

The PANDA Children’s Neurological Center is at the University of Arizona Medical Center Children’s Multi-Specialty Center at 535 N. Wilmot.

The center will improve the lives of Arizona families whose children suffer from such neurological conditions as:

• Autism
• Behavioral and developmental disorders
• Brain tumors
• Concussions
• Congenital and hereditary disorders (e.g. cerebral palsy)
• Inflammatory and infectious disorders (e.g. encephalitis)
• Seizures and epilepsy
• Traumatic brain injury

The PANDA Children’s Neurological Center is staffed with a developmental pediatrician, a pediatric sports medicine physician, pediatric...

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University of Arizona Arthritis Center Friends Luncheon, Oct. 30

Everyone is invited to “Causes, Problems, Prevention and Everything You Would Like to Ask About Arthritis,” the annual fall luncheon of the University of Arizona Arthritis Center (UAAC) Friends, on Thursday, Oct. 30, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Skyline Country Club, 5200 E. St. Andrews Dr., Tucson.

This year’s event features a new format with a silent auction and a round table discussion with audience participation. The round table speakers are faculty from the UA Arthritis Center who will be introduced by C. Kent Kwoh, MD, director of the UA Arthritis Center and The Charles A.L. and Suzanne M. Stephens Chair of Rheumatology; chief of the Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology in the Department of Medicine and Professor of Medicine and Medical Imaging in the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.

Tickets are $35 for members of the UAAC Friends and their guests; $45 for non-members. Reservations and advance payment are...

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Dr. Chalasani portrait image

UA Cancer Center among founding members of the Academic Breast Cancer Consortium

The University of Arizona Cancer Center is a founding member of the Academic Breast Cancer Consortium (ABRCC), an organization that will design, conduct and analyze clinical trials with a focus on Phase I, IB and II studies.

The consortium includes National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers, and prominent cancer institutes and research organizations. The founding members were selected competitively with an emphasis on an established breast cancer treatment program with infrastructure support; a demonstrated commitment to cancer treatment, especially through community access and professional support; outstanding and nationally recognized laboratory, treatment and research facilities; clinicians with expertise in breast cancer research and treatment; an ability to contribute to translational research and principal investigators (PI) who are renowned clinical research leaders.

Pavani Chalasani, MD, MPH, a breast cancer medical oncologist, is the UA Cancer Center’s PI for the ABRCC.

The benefits of ABRCC to the UA Cancer...

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Cardiovascular Surgeon Dr. Toshinobu Kazui Joins UA Heart Team

Toshinobu Kazui , MD, PhD, has joined the University of Arizona Department of Surgery as clinical instructor in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery.

Dr. Kazui comes to the UA after completing an advanced fellowship with a focus on heart failure, heart transplant, ventricular assist devices and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) procedure at Washington University in St. Louis/ Barnes-Jewish Hospital, the premier institution in the United States in regard to the volume of ventricular assist device surgeries, heart transplants and (ECMO) procedures during his 2012-2014 tenure there.

Dr. Kazui specializes in the research and surgical treatment of complex heart disease, heart transplantation, mechanical circulatory and assist devices, mitral valve disease and coronary bypass grafting (CABG). He received his medical degree from Sapporo Medical University School of Medicine and his PhD from Iwate Medical University in Japan. He completed his residency training at Memorial Heart Center, Iwate Medical University, where he also served as assistant professor of cardiovascular surgery. He earned multiple...

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Marisela Mariscal, Sylvestor Moses and Lacy Manuelito, 3 of the 10 students admitted to P-MAP at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.

UA College of Medicine – Tucson Launches New Pathway to Medical School

Lacy Manuelito grew up in Fort Defiance, Ariz., on the Navajo Nation, knowing that she wanted to be a doctor. The first in her family to graduate from college, she holds a bachelor’s degree in family relations and human development from the University of New Mexico. Now married with a 3-year-old daughter, she is gearing up for the medical school admissions test that will determine if her long-held dream will come true.

Manuelito is one of 10 students enrolled in a new program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson to help some of the brightest and most deserving students reach their goal of becoming doctors.

Called P-MAP – for Pre-Medical Admissions Pathway – the one-year program is open to students who have not had the educational and economic advantages that help students get accepted to medical school and cope with its rigorous curriculum, but whose character and commitment – and academic record – make them outstanding candidates. P-MAP was launched in May by the Office of Diversity and...

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15-year-old Sruti Bandlamuri Raises more Than $7, 000 for Autism Research at UA Steele Children’s Research Center Through Performance

15-year-old Sruti Bandlamuri is a very talented and generous young lady.

Sruti is a student of the ancient Indian dance form known as “Bharatanatyam,” and began studying the art form when she was 5 years old.

On Aug. 23, Sruti performed the “Bharatanatyam Arangetram,” which is the graduation of a student of the dance form. The performance demonstrates that the student has graduated and is prepared to perform for the public. Nearly 600 people attended Sruti’s four-hour performance that took place at the Temple of Music and Art.

“My dance performance was the biggest achievement of my life,” said Sruti. “It meant a lot to me, given that it was my debut as a dancer of Bharatanatyam.”

In lieu of gifts or flowers, Sruti requested that donations be made to the autism research at the UA Steele Children’s Research Center.

“The reason I chose autism research for my fund is because I have personal ties with it,” explained Sruti. “The UA Steele Center is a great place for this research because they are asking the fundamental question: What causes autism?”

“Moreover, I have young cousins who have...

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