Cancer center celebrates campus research



By Jarrod Thacker

UK faculty and students came together on Tuesday to acknowledge, celebrate and discuss current cancer research contributions.

The annual “Markey Cancer Center Research Day,” at the UK Singletary Center for the Arts, consisted of UK faculty and students presenting their cancer-related findings and guest speakers addressing research trends.

“It’s a celebration of the cancer research that goes on all around campus,” Terry Keys, the Markey coordinator, said.

There were 325 registered attendees at the event, and a record-breaking 117 poster presentations lined the hallways of the Singletary Center, which covered “almost 1,000 feet of display space,” Keys said.

Presentation contributors included Jay Christian, a member of the Markey Cancer Control Program, which does population-based research.

“It’s amazing. It’s so much bigger than it used to be,” Christian said. “It’s easy to forget just how many people are working on cancer at UK.”

Keys emphasized that this is one purpose of the celebration— to bring researchers from different disciplines together that would not normally see one another.

“With Cancer Research Day, we can see the majority of the work across campus.” Keys said. “As they look at these posters and look over the abstracts in the program, they can find that they can collaborate in some way with other scientists.”

Speakers included graduate students Tianxin Yu and Timothy Scott in the morning, and doctors John Van Nagell Jr., Binhua Zhou, Mark Evers and Tyler Jacks in the afternoon.

Mark Evers discussed several new occurrences in the Markey Cancer Center when he gave his “State of the Cancer Center” address to the recital hall.

He said the Center “is doing significantly better with five-year survival in brain, liver, ovarian and lung cancers compared to the rest of Kentucky, or to the national SEER database.”

In addition, there have been several improvements to the clinic as a whole, including improved wait times and phone-tracking systems. Evers also mentioned awards that members of the cancer centers have won, and introduced newly hired recruits.

Evers said there is a new collaboration with the Colleges of Engineering and Pharmacy in which they received a nanotechnology training center.

“It’s one of seven in the country, and we’re focusing a lot more on nano-biology and nano-particle delivery of reagents to various cancers,” said Evers. “We’ll be announcing a big recruitment of a top-notch nano-biology researcher in the next week or two.”

The Markey Cancer Center will also be submitting an application to be a National Cancer Institute designated facility, which would make it the first in Kentucky.

“Kentucky has some of the highest rates of cancer in the country, with lung and colorectal cancers being particularly high in this region.” Evers said.

Dr. Tyler Jacks, a guest speaker from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, spoke at the end when he delivered this year’s Susan B. Lester Memorial Lecture over the molecular progression of lung cancer.

The day-long ceremony for research was concluded with an awards presentation.