Blacks Have Less Access to Cancer Specialists, Treatment

UC San Diego Study Suggests Racial Inequality Leads to Higher Mortality

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine say metastatic colorectal cancer patients of African-American descent are less likely to be seen by cancer specialists or receive cancer treatments. This difference in treatment explains a large part of the 15 percent higher mortality experienced by African-American patients than non-Hispanic white patients. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego News Center


Department of Medicine co-investigators on the project are Samir Gupta, MD, MSCS, associate professor of clinical medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology; Gregory Heestand, MD, Health Sciences assistant clinical professor in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and Paul Fanta, MD, MS, Health Sciences associate clinical professor in the Division of Hematology-Oncology.

Samir Gupta, MD, MSCS  Gregory Heestand, MD  Paul Fanta, MD, MS
Above, from left: Drs. Samir Gupta, Gregory Heestand, and Paul Fanta

Citation for the study report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute:

Daniel R. Simpson, María Elena Martínez, Samir Gupta, Jona Hattangadi-Gluth, Loren K. Mell, Gregory Heestand, Paul Fanta, Sonia Ramamoorthy, Quynh-Thu Le, and James D. Murphy. Racial Disparity in Consultation, Treatment, and the Impact on Survival in Metastatic Colorectal Cancer JNCI J Natl Cancer Inst first published online November 14, 2013 doi:10.1093/jnci/djt318  |  Full text (UCSD only)

“Wildly Heterogeneous Genes”

New approach subtypes cancers by shared genetic effects; a step toward personalized medicine

Cancer tumors almost never share the exact same genetic mutations, a fact that has confounded scientific efforts to better categorize cancer types and develop more targeted, effective treatments.

In a paper published in the September 15 advanced online edition of Nature Methods, researchers at the University of California, San Diego propose a new approach called network-based stratification (NBS), which identifies cancer subtypes not by the singular mutations of individual patients, but by how those mutations affect shared genetic networks or systems. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Trey Ideker, PhDLead investigator in the study is Trey Ideker, PhD, professor of medicine and bioengineering and chief of the Division of Medical Genetics in the Department of Medicine.

Postdoctoral researcher Hannah K. Carter and hematology/oncology fellow John P. Shen are the other Department of Medicine coauthors.

Citation for the study report:  Matan Hofree, John P Shen, Hannah Carter, Andrew Gross, Trey Ideker. Network-based stratification of tumor mutations. Nature Methods (2013) doi:10.1038/nmeth.2651. |  Full text (UCSD only)

More Information:

Developmental Protein Plays Role in Spread of Cancer

A protein used by embryo cells during early development, and recently found in many different types of cancer, apparently serves as a switch regulating the spread of cancer, known as metastasis, report researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center in the June 15, 2013 issue of the journal Cancer Research. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Dr. Thomas Kipps

Dr. Thomas Kipps

Thomas Kipps, MD, PhD, Evelyn and Edwin Tasch Chair in Cancer Research, is principal investigator of the study reported in Cancer Research.

Kipps is professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and deputy director of research at the UCSD Moores Cancer Center.

All study coauthors are affiliated with the Department of Medicine and the Moores Cancer Center.

Citation for the published study: Cui B, Zhang S, Chen L, Yu J, Widhopf GF II, Fecteau J-F, Rassenti LZ, and Kipps TJ. Targeting ROR1 Inhibits Epithelial–Mesenchymal Transition and Metastasis. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-3832 Cancer Res June 15, 2013 73; 3649  |  Read the abstract

Potential New Way to Suppress Tumor Growth Discovered

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues at the University of Rochester Medical Center, have identified a new mechanism that appears to suppress tumor growth, opening the possibility of developing a new class of anti-cancer drugs. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Dr. Willis X. Li

Dr. Willis X. Li

Senior author of the study report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is Willis X. Li, PhD, professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine and faculty member in the Biomedical Sciences graduate program.

Li’s UC San Diego Department of Medicine coauthors are postdoctoral fellow Pranabananda Dutta, PhD; pulmonary/critical care physician-scientist Jinghong Li, MD, PhD, and senior undergraduate student Jingtong Wang.

Coauthors Xiaoyu Hu, Amy Tsurumi and Hartmut Land are colleagues at the University of Rochester, where Li was a faculty member and researcher at the Wilmot Cancer Center before he joined the faculty at UC San Diego.

At the University of Rochester, LI received the 2008 Davey Memorial Award for Outstanding Cancer Research for his work in the cellular and molecular signaling in cancer development.

He is now principal investigator of an R01 research grant from the National Cancer Institute for the project, Epigenetic Tumor Induction by Heterochromatin Instability.

Citation for the study report:  

Xiaoyu Hu, Pranabananda Dutta, Amy Tsurumi, Jinghong Li, Jingtong Wang, Hartmut Land, and Willis X. Li. Unphosphorylated STAT5A stabilizes heterochromatin and suppresses tumor growth. PNAS 2013 ; published ahead of print June 3, 2013, doi:10.1073/pnas.1221243110  |  Abstract  |  Full text (PDF)

Cancer Cells Co-opt Immune Response to Escape Destruction

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that tumor cells use stress signals to subvert responding immune cells, exploiting them to actually boost conditions beneficial to cancer growth. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Dr. Maurizio ZanettiThe report comes from the laboratory of Dr. Maurizio Zanetti (left), with graduate student Navin R. Mahadevan as lead author and Dr. Zanetti as senior author.

Maurizio Zanetti, MD, is emeritus professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and director of the Laboratory of Immunology at the UCSD Moores Cancer Center.

Dr. Zanetti is the director of tumor immunology for the UCSD Center for Immunology, Infection and Inflammation.  He directs the immunology course in the Biomedical Sciences graduate program.

Drs. Zanetti and Mahadevan published a Science Magazine Perspectives article on the connection between immune surveillance and chromosomal chaos in September.

On the PLOS ONE report, coauthors from Dr. Zanetti’s laboratory are undergraduate student Veronika Anufreichik, graduate student Jeffrey J. Rodvold and research associate Kevin T. Chiu.

Read the report in PLOS ONE

Citation for the report:  Mahadevan NR, Anufreichik V, Rodvold JJ, Chiu KT, Sepulveda H, et al. (2012) Cell-Extrinsic Effects of Tumor ER Stress Imprint Myeloid Dendritic Cells and Impair CD8+ T Cell Priming. PLoS ONE 7(12): e51845. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051845

More Information:

  • Science Magazine Perspectives article, September 2012:

Zanetti M, Mahadevan NR. Immune Surveillance from Chromosomal Chaos? Science 337 (6102): 1616-1617, 28 September 2012. DOI: 10.1126/science.1228464.

  • Other UCSD news stories about Dr. Zanetti’s work:
  • Related Links:

Blocking Tumor-Induced Inflammation Impacts Cancer Development

How tumors exploit microflora and immune cells to fuel growth

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report the discovery of microbial–dependent mechanisms through which some cancers mount an inflammatory response that fuels their development and growth. … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


Division of Gastroenterology physician-scientists Bernd Schnabl, MD, and Lars Eckmann, MD, along with former postdoctoral fellow Christoph H. Österreicher are coauthors of the study report.

Dr. Eckmann, professor of medicine, directs the UCSD Center for Tissue Repair, Epithelial Biology and Inflammation, and Transformation (C-TREAT), a National Institutes of Health Digestive Disease Research Development Center. In his research laboratory, he addresses the mechanisms governing infection-related intestinal disease and the host defenses against them; and the pathophysiology of intestinal inflammation.

Dr. Schnabl, assistant professor of medicine, leads a research laboratory whose primary purpose is to investigate cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the progression of chronic liver diseases with a special emphasis on the gut-liver axis. In 2011, he was awarded a five-year R01 research grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism for his project, “Microbiome and Intestinal Innate Immune Response in Alcoholic Liver Disease.”

Read the published report in Nature [full text UCSD only]

Citation: Grivennikov SI, Wang K, Mucida D, Stewart CA, Schnabl, B, Jauch D, Taniguchi K, Yu G-Y, Osterreicher CH, Hung KE, Datz C, Feng Y, Fearon ER, Oukka M, Tessarollo L, Coppola V, Yarovinsky F, Cheroutre H, Eckmann L, Trinchieri G, Karin M. Adenoma-linked barrier defects and microbial products drive IL-23/IL-17-mediated tumour growth. Nature 2012/10/03, advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature11465.

UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center Launches Bold Campaign to Personalize Cancer Treatment

“My Answer to Cancer” will analyze patient tumor DNA to individualize cancer care

UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center launched a bold plan today aimed at personalizing cancer treatment.  The “My Answer to Cancer” team of oncologists, bioinformaticians, pathologists and geneticists pledges to “sequence” or analyze the DNA of large numbers of patients with cancer in order to match each patient to the best available drug for his or her particular tumor. There will be two parallel approaches: a research approach to discover new mutations that cause cancer and a patient-care approach that will use confirmed mutations and other DNA abnormalities to direct patients to clinical studies of agents targeting these abnormalities. … Read the full story from the UC San Diego Newsroom.

More about the “My Answer to Cancer” Program:

Radical Surgery Saves Life of Young Mom, California First

Liver Removed, Reconstructed, Re-Implanted

A team led by Dr. Alan Hemming, a transplant surgeon at UC San Diego Health System, has successfully performed the West Coast’s first ex-vivo liver resection, a radical procedure to completely remove and reconstruct a diseased liver and re-implant it without any tumors. The procedure saved the life of a 27-year old mother whose liver had been invaded by a painful tumor that crushed the organ and entangled its blood supply…. Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom


The surgery was performed at UC San Diego Health System’s Center for Hepatobiliary Disease and Abdominal Transplantation (CHAT), a new clinical service co-directed by Drs. Robert G. Gish and Alan Hemming. Dr. Gish is Director of Hepatology and Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology. Dr. Hemming is Professor of Surgery and Chief of Transplantation and Hepatobiliary Surgery.

Promising New Target for Stifling the Growth and Spread of Cancer

UCSD researchers find inhibiting single protein blocks the inflammation that fuels tumors

Cancer and chronic inflammation are partners in peril, with the latter increasing the likelihood that malignant tumors will develop, grow and spread. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine say they’ve identified a tumor inflammation trigger that is common to most, if not all, cancers … Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom

Dr. Judith A. Varner

The study’s senior investigator is Judith A. Varner, PhD, Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology and researcher in the Tumor Growth, Invasion and Metastasis Program at UCSD Moores Cancer Center. Collaborators include Department of Medicine faculty members Seth J. Field, MD, PhD, and Mark H. Ginsberg, MD.  |  Read the published study in the June 14, 2011, issue of Cancer Cell (free full text).

A Cancer Marker and Treatment in One?

UC San Diego Researchers Find Promise in Non-Human Sialic Acid Antibodies

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine say antibodies to a non-human sugar molecule commonly found in people may be useful as a future biomarker for predicting cancer risk, for diagnosing cancer cases early and, in sufficient concentration, used as a treatment for suppressing tumor growth…. Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom

Dr. Richard Schwab and Dr. Ajit Varki (pictured above left), led the study, which was a multicenter collaboration that included the departments of Medicine and of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Moores Cancer Center, and the Glycobiology Research and Training Center at UC San Diego.

Richard Schwab, MD, is Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology. Ajit Varki, MD, is Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Co-Director of the Glycobiology Research and Training Center, and Co-Director of the UCSD/Salk Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny. Read the abstract of the published study in Cancer Research.