The WVU Cancer Institute is an inter- and multi-disciplinary matrix center, which encompasses patient care; basic, clinical/translational and population research; health prevention and promotion as well as education and outreach programs. The Cancer Center is comprised of over 80 members, drawn from among 33 departments and 8 Schools on the WVU campus with a research portfolio of private and peer-reviewed cancer research funding.
Our Research Programs combine the activities of groups of investigators who share common scientific interests and goals and participate in competitively funded research. They are highly interactive and lead to exchange of information, experimental techniques, and ideas that enhance the individual productivity of scientists and often result in collaborations and joint publications.
The Cancer Institute Science Exchange discussions drive meaningful investigation by focusing on significant, relevant challenges through participation of clinical, basic and population researchers and their teams (students, fellows, etc.). Thematically aligned series of discussions are around overarching areas that cross fundamental questions and benefit from inclusion of diverse disciplines. In recent months presentations representative of some areas of interest have included those focused on Immunotherapy, Experimental Therapeutics, Mechanisms of Therapeutic Resistance, Tumor Stem Cells and Tumor Microenvironment. In addition, technology focused discussions are hosted at the CI Science Exchange to share cutting edge approaches and emerging models with colleagues. There is an emphasis on forward thinking and team building to leverage collective strengths. The collaborative environment invites thought provoking questions and feedback around current research efforts and enables researchers to explore new approaches based on the discussions. The Science Exchange forum is supplemented by monthly disease focused teams that are co-led as described below. Each WVU CI member is encouraged to move across disease teams as desired and no primary team affiliation is required. Emphasis in all venues is on collaboration and positive impact on patients and outcomes.
The Breast Cancer Program is co-led by Dr. Michael Ruppert, Jo and Ben Statler Chair for Breast Cancer and Professor of Biochemistry and Dr. Elena Pugacheva, Associate Professor of Biochemistry in the WVU School of Medicine. Research areas of emphasis within the Program include the development of novel patient imaging approaches in breast cancer, clinical trials, cognitive impairment resulting from chemotherapy, and the molecular genetics of breast cancer.
The Osborn Program brings together individuals with scientific and clinical interests in hematological malignancies and transplantation is co-led by Lori Hazlehurst, PhD, Professor in the WVU School of Pharmacy and Wei Du, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences. The scientific elements include research of a basic and translational nature related to hematologic malignancies, with an effort to develop projects that capitalize on combined investigator expertise and interests. Thematic areas include the bone marrow as a unique tumor microenvironment, regulation of therapeutic response in hematologic malignancies and stem cell development with focus on factors that regulate the utility of stem cells in the transplantation setting.
Yon Rojanasakul, PhD, Robert C. Byrd Distinguished Professor, Benedum Distinguished Professor, Dept. Of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences, is Co-Leader of the program with Patrick Ma, MD, MSC, a medical oncologist and a thoracic oncology clinician scientist.
West Virginia has one of the highest rates of lung cancer mortality in the nation. Based on this need a Program in lung cancer has been targeted for strategic research development. A given to the Center to establish the Program was named in honor of Sara Crile Allen and James Frederick Allen who both passed away from lung cancer by their children. This generous support and the need for expansion of lung cancer focused initiatives underlie our focus on expansion of this thematic area. Current areas of investigation include fundamental carcinogenesis, and molecular signature prognostic models for lung cancer patients.