University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

UCSF's Alvarez-Buylla Recognized for Pioneering Stem Cell Research

May 27, 2011

Neural stem cell scientist Arturo Alvarez-Buylla, PhD, had a very early start to his day on Wednesday, receiving word in the wee hours that he was one of three scientists named to receive the 2011 Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research. He ...

Brisk Walking May Help Men with Prostate Cancer, UCSF Study Finds

May 25, 2011

A study of 1,455 U.S. men diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer has found a link between brisk walking and lowered risk of prostate cancer progression, according to scientists at UCSF and the Harvard School of Public Health. The scientists found that men who walked briskly -- at least three miles per hour -- for at least three hours per week after diagnosis were nearly 60 percent less likely to develop biochemical markers of cancer recurrence or need a second round of treatment for prostate cancer. "The important point was the intensity of the activity - the walking had to be brisk for men to experience a benefit," said Erin Richman, ScD, a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF who is the first author on the study, published today in the journal Cancer Research. "Our results provide men with prostate cancer something they can do to improve their prognosis." An earlier study, published earlier this year by UCSF's June Chan, ScD, and collaborators at the Harvard School of Public Health, showed that physical activity after diagnosis could reduce disease-related mortality in a distinct population of men with prostate cancer. The new study complements this finding, as it was the first to focus on the effect of physical activity after diagnosis on early indications of disease progression, such as a rise in prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood levels. "Our work suggests that vigorous physical activity or brisk walking can have a benefit at the earlier stages of the disease," said Chan, the Steven and Christine Burd-Safeway Distinguished Professor at UCSF and senior author of both studies. Common Form of Cancer Among Men After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer among men in the United States, and more than 217,000 U.S. men are diagnosed with the disease every year according to the National Cancer Institute. Last year alone 32,050 men died from the disease.

Childhood Cancer Survivors at Higher Risk for Future GI Compilations

May 20, 2011

Individuals who are treated for cancer during childhood have a significantly higher risk of developing gastrointestinal (GI) complications -- from mild to severe -- later in life, according to a study led by the University of California, San Francisco. The findings underscore the need for ...

UCSF Team Discovers Key to Fighting Drug-Resistant Leukemia

May 16, 2011

Doctors who treat children with the most common form of childhood cancer - acute lymphoblastic leukemia - are often baffled at how sometimes the cancer cells survive their best efforts and the most powerful modern cancer drugs. Now a team of a protein that leukemia cells use to stay alive. at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) have uncovered the basis for this drug resistance: BCL6, a protein that leukemia cells use to stay alive. Targeting this protein may be the key to fighting drug-resistant leukemia, a discovery that may make cancer drugs more powerful and help doctors formulate powerful drug cocktails to cure more children of leukemia. "We believe this discovery is of immediate relevance to patient care," said Markus Müschen, MD, PhD, a professor of laboratory medicine at UCSF and the senior author on the study. As described in the journal Nature this week, Mueschen and his colleagues showed that mice with drug-resistant leukemia can be cured of the disease when given conventional cancer drugs in combination with a compound that disables the BCL6 protein. This compound was initially developed by Ari Melnick, a professor of pharmacology at the Weill Cornell College of Medicine in New York and a co-author of the study. A Common Form of Cancer in Children Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is the most common form of cancer in children and accounts for about 23 percent of all cases of cancer in children under the age of 15, according to the National Cancer Institute. In this form of cancer, leukemia cells in the bloodstream and bone marrow continuously multiply, crowding out other, healthy cells. The disease progresses rapidly, and the leukemia cells begin to infiltrate tissues in other parts of the body. Treatment is neither cheap nor easy - but it can be miraculous. It usually involves a long course of drugs that can be physically and emotionally taxing for the children and their parents. Once finished, many enjoy complete remission and are able to live cancer-free, cured of the leukemia.

UCSF Offers Free Screenings, Raises Awareness of Skin Cancer

May 11, 2011

The UCSF Department of Dermatology, in partnership with the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the Chinatown Public Health Clinic, offered free skin cancer screenings in Chinatown to mark National Skin Cancer Awareness Month. UCSF faculty and residents performed the screenings for scores of men ...

Rise in Deadly Skin Cancers Among Young Women is Linked to Wealth

May 11, 2011

What's fashionable, but sometimes fatal? Sun tanning, apparently -- at least among well-off young white women. In the United States, more than 90 percent of the most deadly skin cancers -- malignant melanomas -- occur in the white population. Among young women the incidence is ...

UCSF Stem Cell Studies to Focus on Muscular Dystrophy, Heart Disease, Cancer

May 7, 2011

Three UCSF scientists have received grants from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to advance their investigations of treatment strategies for degenerative muscle diseases, such as muscular dystrophy, and heart disease, and to determine why human embryonic stem cells are susceptible to forming tumors.

UCSF Scientists Play Key Role in Success of Yervoy, a New Cancer Drug

May 5, 2011

Yervoy is unlikely to win a contest for best named drug, but recent US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the new entrant in the battle against cancer marks the success of a novel treatment strategy, and is another indicator that immunotherapy has gone ...

UCSF Scientists Honored by National Academy of Sciences

May 4, 2011

Alexander D. Johnson, PhD, and Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD, have been elected as members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) for their excellence in original scientific research. It is one of the highest honors bestowed on a scientist or engineer in the United States.

Three UCSF Professors Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

April 20, 2011

Three UCSF professors, in medicine, immunology and molecular pharmacology, are among 212 international leaders who have been elected as new members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS). Two of the three researchers are members of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. The new Fellows and Foreign Honorary Members were announced on April 19 and will be inducted on Oct. 1, 2011 at the academy's headquarters in Cambridge, Mass. The new class joins one of the world's oldest and most prestigious honorary societies and includes accomplished members of academia, business, public affairs, the humanities and the arts. Among them are three renowned UCSF professors: * Talmadge E. King, Jr., MD, Julius R. Krevans Distinguished Professor in Internal Medicine and chair of the Department of Medicine; * Lewis L. Lanier, PhD, chair, Department of Microbiology & Immunology; * Kevan M. Shokat, PhD, chair, Department of Cellular & Molecular Pharmacology. "It is a privilege to honor these men and women for their extraordinary individual accomplishments," said Leslie Berlowitz, academy president and William T. Golden Chair. "The knowledge and expertise of our members give the Academy a unique capacity - and responsibility - to provide practical policy solutions to the pressing challenges of the day." Talmadge King An internationally respected expert in lung disorders, King was recruited to UCSF from the University of Colorado in 1997 to be chief of medical services at San Francisco General Hospital, where he served for a decade, improving the quality of clinical care and research and advocating for the public hospital, particularly its mission of community service. In September 2007, King was named chair of the UCSF School of Medicine's Department of Medicine, where he oversees the university's largest department, comprising 550 doctors and scientists and more than 700 support staff. A graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., King earned his medical degree from Harvard Medical School. He conducted his residency at Emory University Affiliated Hospitals, Atlanta, Ga., and a pulmonary fellowship at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, where he later became a medical professor. King is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and is on the Advisory Council of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, among several distinguished professional organizations. King has been listed on several of the "Best Doctors lists in America" for more than a decade and in 2007 won the American Thoracic Society's highest honor, the Trudeau Medal, for his work. Lewis Lanier Lanier has made extensive contributions to our understanding of immunology, from his initial characterization of human natural killer (NK) cells and identification of many of the NK receptors, to his demonstration that these cells directly recognize viruses and play a key role in protecting their host against pathogens and tumors. He joined the UCSF faculty as a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and in the Cancer Research Institute in 1999, and became chair of the department in 2009. Lanier was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2010. Lanier graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and received his PhD from University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. He conducted postdoctoral work in immunology at the UNC Lineberger Cancer Center and the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. He worked as a senior scientist and Research Fellow at Becton Dickinson Immunocytometry Systems from 1981 to 1990, and from 1991 to 1999 at the DNAX Research Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Inc., where he was director of immunology. Lanier was president of the American Association of Immunologists from 2006 to 2007 and serves on the editorial board of numerous research publications, as well as the scientific advisory boards of biotechnology companies. Kevan Shokat Shokat is a leader in the field of chemical biology. He uses the tools of synthetic organic chemistry, structural biology, genetics and mathematical modeling to decipher the role of individual proteins called kinases and their cellular signaling networks. Those efforts include research to understand which kinases could be targeted to treat diseases such as cancer and immune dysfunction. Shokat is currently a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine. A graduate of Reed College, in Portland, Ore., Shokat earned his PhD in organic chemistry from UC Berkeley. He has been a joint member of both the UCSF and UC Berkeley faculties since 1999, after serving as an assistant professor at Princeton University, and has led the Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology since January 2010. Since its founding in 1780 by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock, and other scholar-patriots, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences has elected leading "thinkers and doers" from each generation, according to the institution. They include George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century, Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the 19th, and Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill in the 20th, as well as more than 250 Nobel laureates and 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.