Valley Fever Drug Receives Fast-Track Designation by the FDA

A potentially curative anti-Valley Fever drug has been given a boost in its development by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The University of Arizona has received word that its request has been granted to designate nikkomycin Z (NikZ) as a “qualifying infectious disease product” (QIDP). NikZ is an antifungal drug that the UA has been helping to move into clinical trials and eventually to help patients. The UA has licensed development rights to Valley Fever Solutions, Inc. (VFS), a small start-up business in Tucson.

“Getting a QIDP designation is huge for our program,” said John Galgiani, MD, director of the UA Valley Fever Center for Excellence, project leader for the NikZ development team and chief medical officer for VFS. “It makes NikZ much more attractive to investors because of the added protection and other benefits that come with this designation.”

QIDP designation is a key provision of the GAIN Act, approved by Congress in 2012 to increase the incentives for drug manufacturers to produce new antibiotics for serious and hard-to-treat bacterial and fungal infections....

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Partnership for Native American Cancer Prevention awarded $13 million

TUCSON and FLAGSTAFF, Arizona, Oct. 2, 2014 – The Partnership for Native American Cancer Prevention has been awarded $13 million from the National Cancer Institute to continue bringing prevention and biomedical research training to Native American communities in Arizona. The partnership focuses on the Hopi Tribe, Tohono O’odham Nation and Navajo Nation of Arizona.

The effort, known as NACP, is a collaboration between the University of Arizona Cancer Center and Northern Arizona University. The UA Cancer Center will receive $6 million and NAU will receive $7 million under the five-year grant renewal.

“This research, training and community outreach grant, first funded in 2002, has forged a powerful bridge between the University of Arizona Cancer Center, Northern Arizona University and Native Americans in the Southwest to address the rising tide of cancer in Native Americans,” said David S. Alberts, MD, the UA’s principal investigator for the grant.

“NACP is the first partnership funded by the NCI aimed at the huge burden that cancer places on Native Americans,” said Laura Huenneke, PhD, provost at Northern Arizona...

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UA Department of Emergency Medicine Seeks Community Input On Study of a New Airway Device

The University of Arizona Department of Emergency Medicine is seeking community input on a clinical trial that requires a medical procedure to be performed without patient consent. The study will determine if a new device to secure breathing tubes holds the emergency breathing tubes more securely than currently used devices. The trial, which is set to begin this fall at the University of Arizona Medical Center – South Campus, will be performed on critically ill or injured patients who are unable to provide informed consent.

An Institutional Review Board responsible for human subjects research at the University of Arizona reviewed this research project and found it to be acceptable, according to applicable state and federal regulations and UA policies designed to protect the rights and welfare of participants in research.

The purpose of the study is to determine if an investigational device, the SolidAIRity® Airway Stabilization System, is able to deliver better health care to patients in need of an endotracheal (...

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Jessica Miller, PhD, awarded Susan G. Komen grant to study breast cancer-related chronic pain

Jessica A. Miller, PhD, has been awarded a three-year, $450,000 Susan G. Komen grant to investigate the cause of chronic joint stiffness and pain associated with the use of aromatase inhibitors (AI) — a class of drug often used to treat hormone receptor-positive breast cancer.

Breast cancer patients currently on an AI and the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) sulindac will be studied to determine the causes of joint pain and ways to reduce this side effect in order to increase adherence to the use of AIs. This study will take place as part of an ongoing clinical trial at the University of Arizona Cancer Center.

Dr. Miller’s study, “Application of lipidomics to a sulindac intervention of pain,” will help guide future research that will identify molecular targets of pain for the ultimate goal of improving AI adherence and reducing death from breast cancer. Sulindac is thought to have a better safety profile than other NSAIDs, and Dr. Miller’s work aims to understand the individual metabolic response to sulindac that may explain why.

“Sometimes, joint pain can be incredibly...

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UA Sarver Heart Center Presents ‘Fed Up’ Special Showing and Panel Discussion, Oct. 21

Do you know how much hidden sugar is in your food? Join the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center Women’s Heart Health Education Committee for a discussion and special showing of the documentary, “Fed Up,” on Tuesday, Oct. 21, at the Loft Cinema.

“The obesity epidemic in America will unquestionably lead to future increases in heart disease events and puts the health and lives of our children at risk. This documentary makes a compelling case that the food we eat is influencing our bodies in unanticipated ways, and that we need to look closely at the convenience foods we all rely on as important contributors to the gain of unhealthy weight in America,” said Nancy Sweitzer, MD, PhD, director of the UA Sarver Heart Center, who will moderate the panel discussion.

WHAT:  Heart Smart Movie and Panel Discussion presented by the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center Women’s Heart Health Education Committee

WHEN:   Tuesday, Oct. 21; reception, including wine tasting, chocolate-dipped strawberries and heart-health information at 6 p.m.; panel discussion at 7 p.m.; movie at 7:30 p.m....

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Gabriel Ayala Trio Concert to Benefit UA Mobile Health Program, Oct. 12

The renowned Gabriel Ayala Trio will perform Sunday, Oct. 12, in a concert to benefit the University of Arizona Mobile Health Program.

Doors will open and a raffle will start at 1 p.m.; the concert will begin at 2:30 p.m. in Holsclaw Hall, 1017 N. Olive Ave., between the Speedway underpass and Park Avenue, on the University of Arizona campus.

Tickets are $150 for the concert and a pre-concert reception with the Gabriel Ayala Trio beginning at 1:30 p.m., or $100 for the concert only. Half of the ticket cost is tax-deductible. For more information, or to purchase tickets, please visit

Proceeds will benefit the Dr. Augusto and Martha Ortiz Endowment, which helps sustain the UA Mobile Health Program that the Ortizes started in 1976. Dr. Ortiz provided care to families in underserved communities from Picture Rocks to Littletown and Arivaca, and other areas where health care was unavailable. Martha Ortiz was always at her...

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First Responders to be Honored on 6th Annual Heroes Day, Oct. 2; Event Benefits UAMC Trauma Center

Two notable speakers have been added to the lineup of a news conference honoring this year’s Heroes of The Year nominees at 9:30 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 2, to celebrate Heroes Day 2014 in Southern Arizona.

Peter Rhee, MD, chief of Trauma at the University of Arizona Medical Center, and Nohemy Hite, wife of fallen Tucson Police Department Officer Erik Hite, will help honor first responders at the news conference at La Encantada, 2905 E. Skyline Drive.

As part of Heroes Day 2014, people across the Southern Arizona community are invited to say “thank you” to first responders for the work they do all year long. Now in its sixth year, the annual event recognizes law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics, Border Patrol agents and other first responders who work to keep the community safe and help citizens in times of crisis.

A complimentary breakfast and lunch will be provided to first responders at five Jack Furrier Tire & Auto Care locations from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 2. The public is...

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Dr. Daniel Persky receives leadership award from the National Cancer Institute

Daniel O. Persky, MD, a lymphoma specialist at the University of Arizona Cancer Center, is among 12 physicians from across the country to receive the 2014 Cancer Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award from the National Cancer Institute. This highly competitive award recognizes exceptional cancer investigators for their contributions to the advancement of clinical research through collaborative team science.
The award is a $100,000, two-year supplement to the UACC’s Cancer Center Support Grant.  Dr. Persky is the first UACC member to be honored with this recognition.  The UACC is one of just 41 NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers and the only one headquartered in Arizona.

Dr. Persky is a board-certified medical oncologist, an associate professor of medicine and a co-leader of the Cancer Center’s lymphoma team. He specializes in treating cancers of lymphocytes, such as lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Together with Soham Puvvada, MD, and Jonathan Schatz, MD, he provides both standard and innovative therapy options to patients with such conditions.

 The Cancer Clinical Investigator...

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$1.8M grant supports UA Cancer Center’s cancer biology program

The National Cancer Institute has awarded the University of Arizona Cancer Center a $1.8 million grant to continue training cancer researchers for the future.

The grant, called a T32 Training Grant, is a five-year award that will draw on the strengths of research faculty at The University of Arizona who direct their efforts toward the understanding of cancer causation, prevention and treatment to train future cancer researchers. The grant will fund six pre-doctoral and two postdoctoral trainees.

The training grant has been continuously competitively renewed by the UA Cancer Center since 1978, when Eugene Gerner, PhD,   was the first principal investigator. In 1992, G. Tim Bowden, PhD, the center’s chief science officer and chair of the Cancer Biology Graduate Interdisciplinary Program, became the principal investigator. Jesse Martinez, PhD, became PI when Dr. Bowden retired in 2010. Dr. Martinez also serves as chair of the Cancer Biology Graduate Interdisciplinary Program, known as CBIO GIDP.

“The renewal of this training grant, which we have had at the UA Cancer Center for 36 years, means that we can continue to train the next generation of cancer...

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14th Annual Himelic Memorial Golf and Dinner Classic, Oct. 3, Raises Funds for ALS Research at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson

Since 2001, the Jim Himelic Foundation (JHF) has organized Tucson’s annual Himelic Memorial Golf and Dinner Classic to raise funds to benefit local research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – a progressive, fatal neurodegenerative disease that can strike people from all walks of life.

The 14th annual Himelic Memorial Golf and Dinner Classic will be held Friday, Oct. 3, at the Omni Tucson National Resort, 2727 W. Club Drive, Tucson. Guest speaker will be Warner Smith, UA alumnus ’94 and PAC 10 All Conference football player, who recently was diagnosed with ALS at age 41.

Supporting this local effort to eradicate ALScan make an immediate difference. All proceeds from the event directly benefit investigations at the Jim Himelic Neuromuscular Research Laboratory at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson Department of Neurology. The funds are “seed money” that allow UA...

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