Masonic Cancer Center

A comprehensive cancer center designated by the National Cancer Institute

Masonic Cancer Center Update Newsletter


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Update is an official newsletter of the Masonic Cancer Center for faculty, members, staff, colleagues, and friends.All submissions for the next issue must be sent to, by noon on Friday for publication the following Monday.

NOTE: Update will be published bi-weekly over the summer and will resume regular weekly publication on Monday, 9/14/15.

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June 22, 2015 


In This Issue

Director's Message


Clinical Trials

Professional Education


Funding Announcements and Opportunities

Employment Opportunities

Director's Message

Dear colleagues,

Julie Ross, Ph.D., Professor and Associate Head of Research in the Department of Pediatrics, passed away on Friday, June 19, 2015. Dr. Ross was a long-time leader in the Masonic Cancer Center and its Prevention and Etiology Program. She served as the Associate Director of Population Sciences from 2005 – 2008 . She was a leader in the field of molecular epidemiology and conducted research on the etiology of infant leukemias, myeloid neoplasms and the role of mitochondrial DNA in transplant outcomes. Dr. Ross was the Associate Chair of the Scientific Council for the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), a consortium of hospitals and institutions in North America that treat the majority of children with cancer. She was the lead investigator of the Childhood Cancer Research Network within COG, which serves as a North American childhood cancer registry enrolling children and their parents in order to facilitate COG studies on the causes and consequences of childhood cancer. In 2010 she established a research team from the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic that received a five-year, $2.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to conduct the nation’s first large scale epidemiological study of myelodysplastic syndrome, a disease of the blood and bone marrow that is often a precursor to the development of acute leukemias.

Dr. Ross’s work was internationally recognized and she was generous with her time and expertise. She was an outstanding mentor and received the Dr. Carole Bland Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award from the Medical School in 2010 and an NIH K05 Established Investigator in Pediatric Cancer award in 2011. In 2012 she was the inaugural recipient of the Suzanne Holmes Hodder Chair in Cancer Research funded by the Hodder family through the Children’s Cancer Research Fund.

Dr. Ross contributed to many of our careers. I had the good fortune to be her “suite mate” for nearly 10 years and I appreciated her counsel and advice. She was always willing to field my most naïve questions regarding population science and provided insight and clarity to complex questions. I know many of you had similar experiences with her. As she requested, there will be no formal funeral services. She and her family have indicated that if desired, memorials may be directed to the Masonic Cancer Center's Digestive/Gastrointestinal Cancer Research Fund c/o University of Minnesota Foundation, McNamara Alumni Center, 200 Oak Street S.E., Suite 500, Minneapolis, MN 55455 or give online at `. Please take a moment to remember Dr. Ross.

Douglas Yee, M.D.
Masonic Cancer Center


Welcome new staff
Please welcome Rita Bouley, R.N., B.S., C.R.C.C., who has recently re-joined the Masonic Cancer Center staff in a new fulltime joint position with University of Minnesota Health and the Masonic Cancer Center as Oncology Resource Coordinator. She will have primary responsibility for answering the Masonic Cancer Center information phone line and will also assist the new patient schedulers in the Masonic Cancer Clinic when patients have clinical questions.  Her office is with the schedulers in room M44 of the Masonic Building.  Her phone number is 612-624-2620 and her e-mail is  Having a nurse available full time to serve as a point of contact for patients and families seeking answers about cancer and treatment options is a big step forward for the missions of both the Masonic Cancer Center and University of Minnesota Health to deliver scientific and medical advances to cancer patients, their families, and the public.

Members in the news

DeAnn Lazovich, Ph.D., Prevention and Etiology Program, was quoted in a Minnesota Daily story about the increased incidence of melanoma and the role of tanning beds.


Perry Hacket, Ph.D., Genetic Mechanisms of Cancer Program, was quoted in a Star Tribune story about the Sleeping Beauty transposon system he and his colleagues developed at the University of Minnesota, which is being used to develop new cancer treatments.


Angela Panoskaltsis-Mortari, Ph.D., Transplant Biology and Therapy Program, is featuredin a Big Ten Network story about the U of M’s first bioprinter.


Research from the Masonic Cancer Center is featured in a story in Health Canal about immunological therapies for prostate cancer.


Congratulations to Ashok Saluja, Ph.D., associate director of Experimental Therapeutics and Cell Signaling Program member, who was recently honored as the 2015 recipient of the medal of the Australian Society for Medical Reseaerch (ASMR). This award is offered to an international leader in medical research. Dr. Saluja is one of the few American investigators ever granted the ASMR medal. Saluja has conducting pioneering basic and translational research in pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. As a medalist, he toured seven major Australian cities, where he spoke at events attended by politicians, media, funding body representatives, medical researchers and other key stakeholders in the Australian scientific community. He was presented with the medal at a nationally televised address and luncheon in the National Press Club in Canberra.


Kudos to the following Masonic Cancer Center members who were recently promoted:


Logan Spector, Ph.D., Prevention and Etiology Program, Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Research


Michael Verneris, M.D., Transplant Biology and Therapy Program, Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Blood and Marrow Transplantation

Congratulations to Huda Ahmed, M.S., Program in Health Disparities Research, whose research on “Little Earth Community Health Initiative: Leveraging academic resources for community led research project" has been selected and confirmed for oral presentation during the 143rd American Public Health Association Annual Meeting and Exposition, October 31 - November 4, 2015, in Chicago.

Members receive grants

Alicia Allen, Ph.D., M.P.H., Prevention and Etiology Program, has been awarded three separate grants to study tobacco cessation.


Kola Okuyemi, M.D., M.P.H., Prevention and Etiology Program, has been awarded an NIH grant to continue his research on smoking cessation in homeless populations.

Academic Health Center announces new director for Institute of Health Informatics
Constantin Aliferis, M.D., Ph.D., FACMI, is the new director of the Institute for Health Informatics. Dr. Aliferis will also serve as Chief Research Informatics Officer responsible for the Biomedical Informatics Program of the Clinical Translational Science Institute. Read more.

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Clinical Trials

The following clinical trials conducted by Masonic Cancer Center members were recently opened:

MT2013-27: T Regulatory Cell for Suppression of Acute Graft-vs.-Host-Disease in Recipients of Non-Myeloablative UCB Transplantation for Treatment of Hematological Malignancies
PI: Brunstein, Claudio

A phase 1b/2 study of safety and efficacy of MLN0128 (Dual TORC 1/2 Inhibitor) in combination with exemestane or fulvestrant therapy in postmenopausal women with ER+/HER2- advanced or metastatic breast cancer that has progressed on treatment with everolimus in combination with exemestane or fulvestrant
PI: Potter, David

For more information on clinical trials contact Marva Bohen, R.N., B.S.N., or Rita Bouley, R.N., B.S., C.R.C.C.,  (, 612-624-2620).

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Professional Education

June 24, 2015: 24th Annual Mark E. Nesbit Lectureship in Pediatric Oncology
12:15 p.m., Conference Center, University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital
Li‐Fraumeni Syndrome: Creating New Shields Against Damocles' Sword
Speaker: David Malkin, M.D., Senior Staff Oncologist in Hematology/Oncology at The Hospital for Sick Children, Director, Cancer Genetics Program, Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Toronto

June 25, 2015: CTSI Career Development Seminar
12-1 p.m., 717 Delaware St. SE, room 105
Beyond mice and men: Improved animal research through veterinary collaboration
Mike Conzemius, D.V.M., Ph.D. Endowed Professor of Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine

October 29-November 1, 2015: 17th Annual Lynn Sage Breast  Cancer Symposium
Fairmont Chicago, Millenium Park
Registration is now open.  Visit the website for more information.

Visit the Education and Training Opportunities web page for more conference and special lecture listings.

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July 27, 2015: Rein in Sarcoma 25th Annual Party in the Park
4:30-9:30 p.m., Cafesjian’s Carousel & Como Park Visitors Center, St. Paul
Visit the website for more information and to register.

September 9, 2015: Varisty Team Rally: Make Hope Happen
Save the date for a unique, casual, insider's evening to learn from cancer researchers and meet other 'team' members dedicated to cancer research.

Visit the website for more information.

Visit the Community Events and Outreach page for more information.

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Funding Announcements and Opportunities

​​News & Notices:

Consideration of Sex as a Biological Variable in NIH-funded Research
Sex and gender play a role in how health and disease processes differ across individuals, and consideration of these factors in research studies informs the development and testing of preventive and therapeutic interventions in both sexes.  This notice focuses on NIH's expectation that scientists will account for the possible role of sex as a biological variable in vertebrate animal and human studies.

Enhancing Reproducibility through Rigor and Transparency
NIH’s mission is to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability.  The key to the successful application of that knowledge toward health outcomes is scientific rigor in conducting biomedical research. 

Funding Opportunities:

NIH Partnerships for the Development of Novel Assays to Predict Vaccine Efficacy
The purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement is to solicit applications for projects focused on development, or improvement, of preclinical assays to predict human efficacy for specific investigational vaccines. Maximum project period is five years.
Funding: $6.3 million in FY 2016 to fund 5-10 awards. Budgets for direct costs of up to $750,000 per year may be requested.
Key Dates:
Letter of Intent due August 30, 2015
Application due September 30, 2015  

Visit the Funding Opportunities Web page to see listings previously published in Update. A list of organizations that provide funding for cancer research is also provided there.

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Employment Opportunities

Postdoctoral Position
Post-Doctoral position is immediately available in the field of lung bioengineering. Prior experience with tissue engineering, stem cell biology, endothelial cell biology, surgical techniques, extracellular matrix, and histology desirable. Position/ salary commensurate with experience, offered for one year with the possibility of up to three years, based on performance. Well-funded laboratory with access to state of the art equipment and core facilities.

Applicants (U.S. citizens or permanent residents) send letter of career objectives, detailed CV and the names of three referees to Dr. Angela Panoskaltsis-Mortari (

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  • Last modified on June 23, 2015