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Nov. 29, 2011

Forming a global cancer network for research, clinical care, education and prevention.

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Successful Education Collaboration Keeps Students Coming Back for More

For the last three years, Oliver Bogler, Ph.D, vice president of Global Academic Programs, has attended the Center for Medical Systems Innovation (CMSI) Symposium in Tokyo, Japan. At each symposium, students from the University of Tokyo, in which CMSI is a Center of Excellence, present on their exchange experience at MD Anderson. Although the program is only in its third year, previous summer interns have found their research at MD Anderson compelling enough to return to work in Houston. Two such students are Hitomi Hosoya, M.D. and Yusuke Egashira - both Ph.D. candidates.

Hosoya and Egashira initially attended the CMSI Internship during the Summer 2010 exchange. During their two month experience, the students met mentors with whom they continue to work. Hosoya, who previously completed medical school and is interested in incorporating research into her expertise, worked with Renata Pasqualini, Ph.D., and Wadih Arap, M.D., Ph.D., both professors in the Department of Genitourinary Medical Oncology. While Egashira, an engineer by training, worked in the lab of Ritsuko Komaki, M.D., professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology.

The Arap-Pasqualini Lab engages in evidence-based research intended to assist in the development of targeted drug therapy for treating cancer. During her time in the lab, Hosoya pursued research regarding nano-drug delivery and localized triggered release of chemotherapeutics for the treatment of breast cancer. Hosoya returned in October 2010 to continue her work. Following the Japanese earthquake in March, Pasqualini called and invited Hosoya, who had gone back to Japan, to return to Houston. She did, and continued her work from April until the end of October 2011. Hosoya will come back to Houston in January and hopes to stay through the completion of her Ph.D., which is slated for the spring of 2013.

“I am very lucky to have such good mentors and colleagues with various backgrounds from all over the world,” says Hosoya. “Both scientifically as well as culturally, I have learned and experienced a great deal through these exchanges.”

As Hosoya concentrates on drug delivery, Egashira is focused on proton therapy in Komaki’s lab. Komaki and her colleagues are continuing to refine proton therapy so that it affects the least number of healthy cells. This requires precision as well as understanding the distribution of proton radiation in the body. Egashira, who returned in November 2011, is working to characterize that distribution in order to assist in the improvement of proton radiation therapy as a treatment. Following his Ph.D., which he should complete in 2013, Egashira hopes to continue as an engineer or a medical physicist.

“This has been a way for me to continue the research I was doing at the University of Tokyo,” says Egashira. “I am happy to be back and to work in Dr. Komaki’s lab.”

In 2010, MD Anderson students began visiting the University of Tokyo as part of the CMSI exchange program. If you are interested in learning more about the program and how to participate, please contact Gloria Da Roza.

Calendar of Events

9th International Conference on Ovarian Cancer
MD Anderson
Dec. 2-3, 2011

Recent Developments in Cancer Prevention
Udaipur, India
Dec. 16-19, 2011

Excellence in Oncology
Istanbul, Turkey
Feb. 23-25, 2012


Podcast to Inform MD Anderson Faculty about Clinical Trials

Friday, Dec. 2, 2011, Raymond DuBois, M.D., Ph.D., provost and executive vice president, will host a new podcast to discuss clinical research opportunities across the institution. A portion of the podcast will highlight current clinical trials within the GAP network and call attention to collaborative possibilities within the Sister Institution Network. GAP Connect will provide a link to the podcast in next week’s issue.

Conference Planned Between MD Anderson and MD Anderson España

Planning is underway for a joint conference in March 2012 between MD Anderson and MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid. On Nov. 7, 2011, Dan Fontaine, senior vice president for Business Affairs, met with MD Anderson España’s president, Pedro Luis Cobiella, and signed a new partnership between the institutions. Last month, MD Anderson faculty, GAP staff and Raymond DuBois, M.D., Ph.D., provost and executive vice president, visited MD Anderson España as it celebrated its ten year anniversary on Oct. 6, 2011.

9th International Conference on Ovarian Cancer

MD Anderson will host the conference Dec. 2-3, 2011. Speakers will predominately be from MD Anderson and Memorial Sloan Kettering but three prominent guest lecturers will also attend.

David Huntsman, M.D. – professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of British Colombia. Huntsman is a geneticist who also directs the Centre for Translational and Applied Genomics at the British Colombia Cancer Agency.

Stan Kaye, M.D. – professor and head of the Drug Development Unit at the Royal Marsden Hospital and The Institute of Cancer Research. Previously, he was the head of the Gynecology Unit at The Royal Marsden. In his current role, Kaye is responsible for the world’s largest Phase I unit, which has 30 new drug trials underway. In addition to drug development, Kaye is interested in ovarian cancer and drug resistance.

Ignace Vergote, M.D. – professor and head of the Department of Ob Gyn and Gyn Onc at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium. He is also the Chairman of the Leuven Cancer Institute and specializes in surgical and medical oncology treatment of ovarian, uterine and cervical cancer. His research focuses on clinical and translational research for ovarian and uterine cancer.

Network News

Gynecologic Oncology Resident Training in Honduras

Pedro Ramirez, M.D., and Kathleen Schmeler, M.D., professor and assistant professor in the Department of Gynecologic Oncology & Reproductive Medicine will be on the road next week, teaching residents at Hospital Esquela in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. From Dec. 4-8, 2011, the two MD Anderson physicians will lecture and operate with Obstetrics & Gynecology residents. The effort is an attempt to improve the Gynecologic Oncology training of residents in Central America, including the number of trainees who pass the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) certification exam.

The Central American participants are members of the area’s ACOG equivalent, the Federación Centroamericana de Sociedades De Obstetricia Y Ginecologia (FECASOG). Leadership in FECASOG observed a need for improvement in the gynecologic oncology portion of their resident training.   The Gynecologic Oncology Visiting Professorship program was therefore initiated by Ted Trimble, M.D., current director of the National Cancer Institute’s Center for Global Health.  He has given his full support to Schmeler and Ramirez, who now run the program, started training residents in Guatemala City in 2010. Following the trip to Honduras, the program will expand over the next two years to include El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama and Costa Rica.