Study Shows Certain Gastrointestinal Tumors Associated with Higher Mortality

Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have determined that certain gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) are more deadly than previously reported in medical literature. Findings are published online in the Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery. … Read the Full Story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Paul Fanta, MD, MS

Paul Fanta, MD, MS

Paul T. Fanta, MD, Health Sciences Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology, is a study coauthor.

New Biomarkers Might Help Personalize Metastatic Colorectal Cancer Treatment

Low levels of two genes predicts positive response to chemotherapy and longer survival times —

Metastatic colorectal cancer patients tend to live longer when they respond to the first line of chemotherapy their doctors recommend. To better predict how patients will respond to chemotherapy drugs before they begin treatment, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine conducted a proof-of-principle study with a small group of metastatic colorectal cancer patients. The results, published June 17 in PLOS ONE, revealed two genes that could help physicians make more informed treatment decisions for patients with this disease. …Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

Paul Fanta, MD, MS

Paul Fanta, MD, MS

Senior author of the study is Department of Medicine oncologist Paul Fanta, MD, MS, Health Sciences associate clinical professor in the Division of Hematology-Oncology. Dr. Fanta is a researcher in the Solid Tumor Therapeutics Program at the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.

Read the article in PLOS ONE (Open Access)

UC San Diego Health System, Scripps Health Partner in Hospice Care, Training and Research

UC San Diego Health System and Scripps Health are partnering to provide improved continuity of patient care, fellowship training and research in hospice and palliative medicine. Under a new five-year agreement, Scripps will work with UC San Diego to provide outpatient and inpatient hospice care for UC San Diego patients, allowing UC San Diego physicians to better coordinate post-acute care for patients with chronic illness. The joint fellowship program is the only physician training program of its kind in San Diego County …

… The hospice and palliative medicine training program is an extension of a fellowship that was previously offered through San Diego Hospice. Gary Buckholz, MD, UC San Diego, and Holly Yang, MD, Scripps Health, co-direct the joint fellowship program, which will be housed at UC San Diego beginning in July 2015. The program will engage faculty from both organizations, exemplifying the teamwork required to meet the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of palliative care and hospice patients and their families. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


More Anti-inflammatory Genes Mean Longer Lifespans for Mammals

Mammal species with higher copy numbers of siglec receptor genes have longer maximum lifespans —

We age in part thanks to “friendly fire” from the immune system — inflammation and chemically active molecules called reactive oxygen species that help fight infection, but also wreak molecular havoc over time, contributing to frailty, disability and disease. The CD33rSiglec family of proteins are known to help protect our cells from becoming inflammatory collateral damage, prompting researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine to ask whether CD33rSiglecs might help mammals live longer, too. …Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom

SDSC/UCSD Study Uncovers Mechanisms of Cancer-Causing Mutations

Computer modeling leads to more precise targeting of therapies —

Researchers at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) and the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego, have described for the first time the molecular mechanism of cancer development caused by well-known “resistance” mutations in the gene called epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR).

While these mutations were known for quite a long time, the question as to why they cause cancer or make some drugs ineffective was still not answered.

The study, called “Molecular Determinants of Drug-Specific Sensitivity for Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) Exon 19 and 20 Mutants in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer,” and published online in the journal Oncotarget, demonstrates how computer modeling of EGFR mutations found in lung cancer can elucidate their molecular mechanism of action and consequently optimize the selection of therapeutic agents to treat patients. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Dr. Razelle Kurzrock

Dr. Razelle Kurzrock

The senior investigator in the study was Razelle Kurzrock, MD. Dr. Kurzrock is Chief of the Division of Hematology & Oncology; Murray Professor of Medicine; Senior Deputy Director, Clinical Science and
Director, Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy and Clinical Trials Office at the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center.

Lyudmila A. Bazhenova, MD, associate professor of medicine and leader of the Lung Cancer Unit Team at the Moores Cancer Center, was also an investigator in the study.

Read the study report (UC San Diego only)

Division of Regenerative Medicine Holds First Research Symposium

Catriona H. M. Jamieson, MD, PhD

Dr. Catriona Jamieson

On Friday, January 30, the Division of Regenerative Medicine presented its inaugural symposium on novel research and technologies in regenerative medicine.

The meeting featured scientific presentations by world-renowned academic investigators and industry leaders as well as a discussion panel including keynote speakers Dr. Hans Clevers, Dr. Derrick Rossi, Dr. Carl June and Dr. Wolfgang Dillmann.

Division Chief Catriona Jamieson, MD, PhD, presented the mission and milestones of the new Division of Regenerative Medicine after introductions from UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla; Vice Chancellor Health Sciences and Dean of UC San Diego School of Medicine Dr. David Brenner; and Chief Executive Officer of UC San Diego Health System and Associate Vice Chancellor of UC San Diego Health Sciences Paul Viviano.

UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center

UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center

Catriona Jamieson, MD, PhD, is associate professor in the Division of Hematology-Oncology, deputy director of the Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center, chief of the Division of Regenerative Medicine and director of stem cell research at the Moores Cancer Center.

Cancer and the Immune System: A Double-Edged Sword

Cell surface sugars can promote or inhibit cancer depending upon stage

During cancer development, tumor cells decorate their surfaces with sugar compounds called glycans that are different from those found on normal, healthy cells. In the Sept. 15 online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that sialic acids at the tips of these cancer cell glycans are capable of engaging with immune system cells and changing the latter’s response to the tumor – for good and bad. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom


Ajit Varki, MDPrincipal investigator of the study is Ajit Varki, MD, distinguished professor of medicine and cellular medicine, member of the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center and co-director of both the Glycobiology Research and Training Center and UCSD/Salk Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny (CARTA).

Sanford Shattil, MD, Stepping Down as Hematology-Oncology Chief; Remains Fellowship Program Director

Announced August 21, 2014, by Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD, Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine

Sanford Shattil, MD

Sanford Shattil, MD

Please join the Department of Medicine in extending a sincere thank you to Sanford (Sandy) Shattil, MD, who will be stepping down as chief of the Division of Hematology-Oncology after ten years of service. He will be succeeded by Dr. Razelle Kurzrock.

Dr. Shattil will remain the director of the Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Training Program.

Dr. Shattil earned his Bachelor of Arts in psychology at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana in 1964 and went on to receive his medical degree from the University of Illinois, College of Medicine in Chicago in 1968.

Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD

Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD

He completed his residency in internal medicine on the Harvard Medical Service of the Boston City Hospital and a fellowship in hematology at Boston City Hospital’s storied Thorndike Memorial Laboratory.

After a stint in the U.S. Public Health Service in San Francisco, he moved to the University of Pennsylvania in 1973, where he rose through the ranks to become professor of medicine and chief of hematology-oncology.

Razelle Kurzrock, MD

Razelle Kurzrock, MD

In 1995 he moved to The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, and in 2004 he was recruited to become division chief and professor of medicine at UCSD.

During Dr. Shattil’s tenure as the chief of hematology-oncology at UCSD, he has overseen major growth in the patient care, research and educational missions of the division. His vision has been to foster the careers of faculty and fellows in the context of all aspects of the division’s multiple missions and to work with other leaders at the Moores Cancer Center in expanding clinical services in a patient-centric manner.

Dr. Shattil will remain the department’s director of the Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Training Program, a role in which he has served since 2008. He will also continue his long-standing NIH-supported research program into basic and translational aspects of integrin adhesion receptor function for which he is recognized internationally, and he will maintain his clinical hematology practice, both in the inpatient setting and at Moores.

Please join me in expressing our sincere appreciation to Dr. Sandy Shattil for bringing his talents and expertise to both the Division of Hematology-Oncology and the Department of Medicine. We look forward to his continued service.

Dr. Catriona Jamieson Announced as Inaugural Chief of New Division of Regenerative Medicine

Announced today by Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD, Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine

Catriona H. M. Jamieson, MD, PhD

Catriona Jamieson, MD, PhD

Please join me in officially welcoming Catriona Jamieson, MD, PhD, as the inaugural chief of the new Division of Regenerative Medicine. The Department of Medicine is delighted to announce the inception of the Division of Regenerative Medicine and we enthusiastically support Dr. Jamieson’s talent and vision for this innovative endeavor.

Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD

Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD

Dr. Jamieson joined the UC San Diego faculty in 2005 and is an associate professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology. She has proven her leadership skills, expertise and effectiveness in her current positions as director of the Stem Cell Research Program at Moores Cancer Center, co-leader of the Hematologic Malignancies Program, hematology team leader, co-director of the UC San Diego Stem Cell Training Grant, coordinating course director of the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell course, and a co-director of the new Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center.

Dr. Jamieson received her medical and doctorate degrees from the University of British Columbia. She completed her residency and clinical fellowships in bone marrow transplantation and hematology, as well as her postdoctoral research fellowship in the laboratory of Professor Irving Weissman at Stanford.

As a physician-scientist, Dr. Jamieson specializes in leukemia and myeloproliferative neoplasms, which are a family of uncommon, but not rare, degenerative disorders in which the body overproduces blood cells. These disorders can cause blood clotting which can lead to heart attack, stroke, and other life-threatening complications including transformation to acute leukemia. Dr. Jamieson’s research focuses on the mutant stem cells and progenitor cells in myeloproliferative neoplasms, which can give rise to cancer stem cells. Her stem-cell research studies have taken a substantial leap from identifying a promising treatment in the laboratory to completing the first clinical trial targeting cancer stem cells in humans. Her discoveries in myeloproliferative neoplasms are now being brought together with a drug development track of a regional pharmaceutical company.

Please join me in giving your enthusiastic support to Dr. Jamieson in her new leadership role as the inaugural chief of the Division of Regenerative Medicine here at UC San Diego. This is a unique and exciting opportunity to make UC San Diego a key hub for the rapid translation of stem cell discoveries to the clinic.

Molecular Tumor Board Helps in Advanced Cancer Cases

With accelerating development of personalized cancer treatments matched to a patient’s DNA sequencing, proponents say frontline physicians increasingly need help to maneuver through the complex genomic landscape to find the most effective, individualized therapy.

In a paper published in the May 5 online issue of The Oncologist, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center detail their experience evaluating 34 patients between December 2012 and June 2013 using a molecular tumor board – a new type of advisory group comprised of multidisciplinary experts, including those in the fields of tumor genetics, basic science and bioinformatics. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom