May 3, 2011

cancer center update

News briefs

New name for Experimental Therapeutics and Imaging (ETI) Program

Cancer Targets, Therapeutics and Imaging (CTTI) is the new name for the ETI Program. This change has been made because, as Interim Program Leader Dr. Bill Beck explains, "This name better captures the entire panoply of our activities." Some of the many research areas of members are: identification of novel molecular targets and novel compounds; development of novel delivery methods; molecular, cell and in vivo therapeutics; developmental and experimental therapeutics in humans; and imaging of therapeutics at a cellular or in vivo level, the latter in both animals and humans.

Maria Barbolina receives grant from the American Cancer Society (ACS), Illinois Division

Maria Barbolina, member of the Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Program, received funding from the ACS for her project entitled "Function of Lymphotactin Receptor - Ligand Interaction in Epithelial Ovarian Carcinoma."

New publication schedule

The UPDATE will now be published every other week.

Leadership Focus: Marian Fitzgibbon, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Cancer Control and Population Science Program

Marian L. Fitzgibbon, Ph.D., is Professor in the Department of Medicine and Section Chief of Health Promotion Research and Professor in the School of Public Health.  She also serves as Deputy Director, Institute of Health Research and Policy. 

Trained as a clinical psychologist, she began her career treating obese and eating disordered patients and directing the Obesity and Eating Disorders Program at Northwestern University.  Given the proven link between cancer and obesity, Dr. Fitzgibbon’s involvement with the Cancer Center is a natural fit. Although her work with eating disordered patients was valuable, it was somewhat frustrating because of the immense difficulty people had losing weight and  what she describes as the “body’s relentless determination to regain lost weight.”  

This frustration led her away from treatment to research into prevention methods.  When she came to UIC in 2004, she continued this work. She was given the opportunity to develop the Section of Health Promotion Research in the Department of Medicine that has brought together a multidisciplinary group of clinicians and researchers. Currently her research focuses primarily on developing interventions that provide obesity risk reduction for minority populations.

“If we could get people to maintain a healthier weight, we would, of course, have a far healthier population,” says Dr. Fitzgibbon. “It’s not, however, that people want to eat unhealthily;” she continues, “there are often contextual factors that come into play that compound the issue.”  For minority and disadvantaged populations, access to care is often undermined by costs, lack of transportation, and difficulty in getting appointments. Their lack of activity may be fueled by time constraints, safety concerns, and work responsibilities. Dr. Fitzgibbon resolved to address these issues by meeting people right where they live--immersed in their current lifestyle activities.

To do this, she has worked closely with the Women, Infants, and Children’s (WIC) Nutrition Program along with Drs. Melinda R. Stolley, Angela Odoms-Young, Carol Braunschweig, and Michael Berbaum on projects addressing these factors.  Now her work mostly centers on interventions with schools, where she works with families who have preschool children.

Currently, she is very excited about pilot work with Drs. Margaret E. Wright, Giamila Fantuzzi, and Rick Kittles that will enable her team to gather genetic data and to identify biomarkers for obesity risk and its implications.

Most recently, Fitzgibbon received a $1 million US Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant to integrate obesity-prevention strategies into programs delivered to low-income families through the University of Illinois Extension Cook County and Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed). Started ten years ago, the program, Hip-Hop to Health, is an evidence-based obesity prevention program originally administered in Head Start and preschool programs. Now researchers will enroll approximately 180 parent/child pairs who participate in the above programs. Study participants will receive Hip-Hop to Health or general nutrition programming during six sessions delivered over six months. Unique in its design and content, Hip-Hop to Health will be delivered by trained peer educators. A special Toolkit for Health will be created and used in the program, and they hope to disseminate the program through a web-based Toolkit.  

"The goal of the research is to implement an appealing and effective exercise and nutrition program for widespread use in clinical, community and school settings that addresses the problem of excessive weight gain as children age," said Fitzgibbon.

Fitzgibbon has many other roles at UIC. Besides her research, she is Co-Principal Investigator, along with Faith Davis, for the R25T Cancer Education and Career Development Program funded by the National Cancer Institute. She works closely and tirelessly as a mentor to the six R25 fellows. She also teaches a grant writing course in the school of Public Health.

Marian Fitzgibbon is grateful to UIC leadership, her colleagues, specifically those in the Section of Health Promotion Research, loyal and dedicated staff, community partners, and intervention participants for her successful research outcomes. She credits her notable achievements to the stimulating environment of the Cancer Center and the Institute for Health Research and Policy, where she experienced the openness and flexibility required to develop a strong research program. She greatly appreciates the opportunity she has been given to be with like-minded people and to thrive in a scientific home where she and her team can build collaborations.

Program Focus: Cancer Control and Population Science

Led by Marion Fitzgibbon, Associate Director, the Cancer Control and Population Science Program includes over 50 researchers who represent a wide variety of disciplines and, most importantly, who identify strongly with the Cancer Center. The CCPS is fortunate to have some extremely talented investigators, and many multi-investigator grants, including the P50 Center for Population Health and Health Disparities, the P60 Center of Excellence in Eliminating Health Disparities, and the P01 Program Project entitled “Social-Emotional Contexts of Adolescent Smoking Patterns.” In 2010, CCPS had 18 unique investigators with a total of 31 peer-reviewed, funded research projects approaching ~$6 M in direct costs. 

The CCPS is regionally recognized for its overarching focus on health disparities experienced by individuals who live in underserved and ethnic minority communities.  Richard Warnecke and Elizabeth Calhoun are Co-Principal Investigators for The Center for Population Health and Health Disparities, one of ten sites in the country funded to study access to care and health disparities among underserved communities.  Its primary focus is on minority women with breast cancer. The Center of Excellence in Eliminating Health Disparities, Elizabeth Calhoun and Carol Ferrans, Co-Principal Investigators, focuses on health disparities in colon and ovarian cancer, community-based breast cancer initiatives, and training and education. Both Centers are funded by the National Institutes of Health and both actively engage with community partner organizations to accomplish research and education goals. 

CCPS members are involved in many distinctive projects. Robin Mermelstein is the PI of the only behaviorally-focused PO1 Program Project Grant in the country. Funded by the NCI, the multi-level study will focus on the social and emotional contexts that may influence smoking and explore genetic markers for the development of dependence on tobacco. Melinda Stolley and Lisa Sharp are engaged in cutting edge work on adult survivors of childhood cancer, including the Chicago Health Living Study, which deals with health promotion in minority survivors of childhood cancer.

The ultimate goal of the CCPS is to bring together scientists in projects of a trans-disciplinary nature so that the Program can truly capitalize on the strengths that a large and diverse campus like UIC offers. The program has an active and robust seminar series that encourages members to meet with others researchers and helps them prospect for collaborations with on- and off-campus entities.  Fitzgibbon has also reached out to the Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Program (CCP), led by Peter Gann, to foster inter-programmatic collaborations. 

One exciting development is the establishment of a Behavioral Shared Resource. Led by Melinda Stolley, this centrally-focused core, the only one in Chicago, will offer behavioral and psychological consultation and services to support cancer control and clinical research. 

By leveraging the University’s valuable assets, the Cancer Control and Population Science Program is poised to become a national leader in disparities research. With its innovation and research expertise, the CCPS is an active and vital player in the University’s commitment to reduce the impact of health disparities for the people of Illinois.  



In this issue


leadership focus: marian fitzgibbon


program focus: cancer control and population science program


upcoming events



  new funding opportunities
upcoming events

Protein Folding in the Cellular Environment: New Concepts and Tools
Silvia Cavagnero, PhD
Wednesday, May 4 12:00PM
900 S. Ashland
Herman Auditorium

Development of the Survivors Program to Empower Action in Care (SPEAC): A Health Communication Intervention for Adult Childhood Cancer Survivors
Lisa Sharp, PhD
Thursday, May 5 12:00PM
909 S. Wolcott, Rm. 5175

Proton Therapy Talk
William F. Hartsell, MD
Tuesday, May 5 12:00PM
909 S. Wolcott, Rm. 6175

Splicing Factors as Novel Therapeutic Targets in Ovarian Cancer
Ahmet D. Arslan, Ph.D. Candidate
Friday, May 6   1:00-2:00PM
College of Pharmacy
833 S. Wood, Rm. B36

Treatment Options for Blood Cancer Patients Conference
“Myelodyspastic Syndromes,”

by David Peace, MD
Saturday, May 7   
Crowne Plaza Hotel
5540 N. River Rd.
Rosemont, IL

Oral Cancer Seminar Series
Vadim Gaponeko, PhD
Tuesday, May 10 12:15-1:30PM
College of Dentistry,
801 S. Paulina, Rm. 330D

Phase IIA Clinical Trial of Curcumin for the Prevention of Colorectal Neoplasia
Robert Carroll, MD
Thursday, May 12 12:00PM
909 S. Wolcott, Rm. 5175

Free Oral Cancer Screenings by Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Thursday, May 12
UIC College of Dentistry
801 S. Paulina St., First Floor

Cancer Center Town Hall
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
909 S. Wolcott, Rm. 5175

Robert H. Costa Memorial Lecture
Michelle Barton, PhD
Wednesday, May 18
11:40 Coffee, 12:00 Seminar
900 S. Ashland
Herman Auditorium

P27Kip1 Deficiency Promotes Prostate Carcinogenes but does not Affect the Efficacy of Retinoids in Suppressing the Neoplastic Process
(Konstantin Christov et al)
The Alternative Splice Variant of Protein Tyrosine Kinase 6 Negatively Regulates Growth and Enhances PTK6-Mediated Inhibition of β-Catenin (Angela Tyner et al)

High-resolution Fourier-Transform Infrared Chemical Imaging with Multiple Synchrotron Beams
(Andre Kajdacsy-Balla, Rohit Bhargava, et al)

Differences in Pain Location, Intensity, and Quality by Pain Pattern in Outpatients with Cance
(Diana J. Wilkie, et al)

Tumor Budding Correlates with Poor Prognosis and Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition in Tongue Squamous Cell Carcinoma
(Xiaofeng Zhou, et al)

Medical Diagnostic Radiation Exposures and Risk of Gliomas
(Faith Davis, et al)


new funding opportunities

Institutional Research Grant
Carolyn Adams Ticket for the Cure
Illinois Department of Public Health
Office of Women’s Health
Deadline Extended: App July 4, 2011

Seeking breast cancer research proposals with a strong emphasis on translational research. For more information please email For questions please contact:

Physician Research Training Award - W81XWH-11-PCRP-PRTA
United States Department of Defense (DOD)
Prostate Cancer Research Program (PCRP)
Deadline: Pre-App May 18; 2011 App June 8, 2011

Supports a mentored training experience to prepare physicians with clinical duties and/or responsibilities for careers in prostate cancer research. More…

Idea Award - W81XWH-11-BCRP-IDEA
United States Department of Defense (DOD)
Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP)
Deadline: Pre-App May 31, 2011; App Aug 25, 2011

Designed to promote new ideas that are still in the early stages of development and have the potential to yield highly impactful data and new avenues of investigation. More…

Synergistic Idea Development Award - W81XWH-11-PCRP-SIDA
United States Department of Defense (DOD)
Prostate Cancer Research Program (PCRP)
Deadline Pre-App June 2, 2011; App Aug 23, 2011

Supports new ideas that represent innovative approaches to prostate cancer research involving two or three independent PI's. More…

Postdoctoral Training Award - W81XWH-11-PCRP-PTA
United States Department of Defense (DOD)
Prostate Cancer Research Program (PCRP)
Deadline: Pre-App May 18, 2011; App June 8, 2011

Supports training opportunities focused on prostate cancer research for recent doctoral graduates. More…

Idea Development Award - W81XWH-11-PCRP-IDA
United States Department of Defense (DOD)
Prostate Cancer Research Program (PCRP)
Deadline: Pre-App June 2, 2011; App Aug 23, 2011

Supports new ideas that represent innovative approaches to prostate cancer research. More…

Health Disparity Research Award - W81XWH-11PCRP-HDRA
United States Department of Defense (DOD)
Prostate Cancer Research Program (PCRP)
Deadline: Pre-App May 18, 2011; App June 8, 2011

Supports new ideas for prostate cancer health disparity research.  More...

Established Investigator Award in Cancer Prevention & Control (K05)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Deadline: App June 12, 2011, Oct 12, 2011, Feb 12, 2012

For established scientists who have already demonstrated a sustained, high level of research and mentoring productivity and who need K05 support to continue these activities.  More...

The NCI Transition Career Development Award (K22)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Deadline: App June 12, 2011, Oct 12, 2011, Feb 12, 2012

To facilitate the transition of investigators working in the areas of cancer prevention, control, behavioral, or population science research, from the mentored stage in academic cancer research to the independent stage.  More...










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