Five of the 13 scientists named as Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scholars for 2007 were recruited to Emory University. Awardees include Susan Bauer-Wu, DNSc; Georgia Zhuo Chen, PhD; Jing Chen, PhD, Edward S. Mocarski, Jr., PhD; and Harold I. Saavedra, PhD.
Each scholar receives from $50,000 to $150,000 in funding annually for five years to support his or her research efforts. The GCC selects scientists engaged in the most promising areas of cancer research.
Dr. Bauer-Wu was recruited from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston to become an associate professor at Emory's Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. Her research involves using various psycho-behavioral interventions, including meditation, music and writing, to address cancer patients' symptoms and treatment experience. The central focus of her work has been on managing the distress associated with cancer treatment and symptoms.
Dr. Georgia Chen was recruited from the University of Pittsburgh in 2004, and is currently associate professor of hematology and oncology in Emory's Winship Cancer Institute. She previously was an assistant biologist and assistant professor at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas. She has established a unique model to study lymph node metastasis, and hopes to identify a group of genes that are predictors for metastasis; search for pathways responsible for developing metastasis; and understand the biological role of metastasis-related proteins.
Dr. Jing Chen is an assistant professor of hematology and oncology, also in Emory's Winship Cancer Institute. In keeping with his post-graduate training at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Chen is especially interested in the cause, development and effects of leukemia and melanoma. He is co-directing the Experimental Therapeutics Program in leukemia at Emory. The program's goal is to generate new compounds with potential for clinical use.
Dr. Mocarski was recruited from Stanford University in California to become the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Microbiology and Immunobiology in Emory University School of Medicine. He is an internationally recognized leader in research investigating the biological properties of cytomegalovirus (CMV), an opportunistic herpes virus. Viral infections are a major concern in cell, blood and bone marrow transplantation for patients with leukemia and lymphoma. Dr. Mocarski is also a co-inventor on two patents and an expert in integrating basic and clinical research.
Dr. Saavedra was recruited from Ohio State University to join the Department of Radiation Oncology in Emory School of Medicine. His laboratory is studying how breast cancer initiates and develops. His research goal is to determine how to prevent cancer initiation, detect cancers at an earlier stage, and determine a way to suppress the signals that lead to further progression of tumors and more highly malignant stages of cancer.
"We are extremely proud of our Emory faculty and very much appreciate the Georgia Cancer Coalition's interest and involvement in the important work that is done, not only here at Emory, but throughout Georgia," said Brian Leyland-Jones, MD, PhD, director of the Emory Winship Cancer Institute. "The GCC plays an integral role in our ability to recruit world-class physicians and scientists who will help advance the body of knowledge in cancer care."
The Georgia Cancer Coalition partners with Georgia's research universities, medical schools, hospitals and nursing programs in recruiting scholars, with the goal of strengthening the state's research talent, capacity and infrastructure.
Since its inception in 2001, the Georgia Cancer Coalition has named 91 Distinguished Scholars; 36 have been named from Emory University. The Scholar funding is an investment not only in Georgia's future as a national leader in cancer control, but also is valuable in attracting increased funding to Georgia for cancer research. Initially, the C oalition contracts with the sponsoring institution to provide at least a dollar-for-dollar match. The review committee examines the scholars' history of grants, publications and patents, and considers the researcher's potential for attracting future funding. In fiscal year 2006, Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Scholars were responsible for securing $48 million in privately and federally funded research grants to the state of Georgia.
Scholar selection is based on how the applicant's research relates to the goals of the Coalition, the research priorities of the National Cancer Institute, and the strategic plan of the sponsoring institution. Each application is reviewed by both an external scientific review committee and an advisory review committee, appointed by the Coalition in cooperation with Georgia's research universities. Kate Canterbury, director of research programs, staffs the Coalition committees. Members rank scholars according to predetermined scientific and technical criteria.
The National Cancer Institute has identified areas of discovery that hold promise for making significant progress against all cancers. The Distinguished Cancer Clinicians and Scientists program is the cornerstone of the Georgia Cancer Coalition's efforts to advance scientific discovery into the prevention, treatment, causes and cures of cancer. These scientists play an important role in positioning Georgia as a national leader in cancer research," says Bill Todd, president and chief operating officer of the Georgia Cancer Coalition.
The Georgia Cancer Coalition is an independent, not-for-profit organization that unites government agencies, academic institutions, civic groups, corporations and health care organizations in a concerted effort to strengthen cancer prevention, research and treatment in Georgia, with the ultimate goal of making Georgia one of the nation's premier states for cancer care. The mission is to reduce the number of cancer-related deaths in Georgia. The Coalition is the first of its kind in the nation and is fast becoming a national model. For further information, the official website is www.georgiacancer.org.