Markey Cancer Research Day highlights work of faculty, staff and students

The University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center will host its annual Markey Cancer Center Research Day from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Monday, April 15. Markey Cancer Research Day is an annual event celebrating the advances of cancer research on the University of Kentucky campus.

Held at the UK Singletary Center for the Arts, this year’s event will feature a record 142 posters; oral presentations by a graduate student, a postdoctoral fellow and a senior researcher; two faculty oral presentations; the State of the Cancer Center Address by Dr. Mark Evers, director of the UK Markey Cancer Center; and the Susan B. Lester Memorial Lecture given by Dr. David Sabatini from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dr. Suleiman Massarweh, breast oncologist for the UK Markey Cancer Center, was chosen as one of this year’s faculty oral presentations. He notes that Markey Cancer Research Day presents an opportunity for faculty to share their discoveries with people outside their usual circle.

“It is important to be recognized where you work, more than anywhere else,” Massarweh said. “It’s very important to disseminate this information and particularly in a group like ours, to enhance this kind of interactive research and build teams around novel research themes.”

Massarweh will present information about his breast cancer clinical trials that focus on using hormonal agents and targeted therapy to prevent resistance to breast cancer treatment. One of Massarweh’s completed clinical trials utilized everolimus, a novel agent that recently received FDA approval for breast cancer treatment.

Approximately 70 percent of breast cancers are estrogen receptor dependent, and hormone therapy can help ‘block’ the cancer’s access to estrogen and delay the need for chemotherapy, which is often a difficult treatment with side effects. Agents like everolimus can help hormonal therapies hold off cancer growth for a longer period of time. Massarweh says his research focuses heavily on balancing the most effective targeted treatments with preserving patients’ quality of life.

“There is a driving force behind doing this kind of work,” Massarweh said. “You are looking for simpler, more effective, less toxic, less expensive, less cumbersome, less quality-of-life disruptive treatments and strategies so that we can make women with metastatic breast cancer live, function, and work, and people cannot tell that they have cancer – and that’s the way it should be.”

Massarweh will give his oral presentation at 1:30 p.m. in the recital hall of the Singletary Center. The second faculty presenter, Peixuan Guo, the William Farish Endowed Chair of Nanobiotechnology in UK’s College of Pharmacy and Markey Cancer Center, will speak from 2-2:30 p.m.

Following the faculty presentations, UK Markey Cancer Center director Dr. Mark Evers will give the annual State of the Cancer Center address, followed by the Susan B. Lester Memorial Lecture from Dr. David Sabatini from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The morning session includes three short oral presentations from graduate student Cassandra Reiling, postdoctoral fellow Jieyun Jiang, and junior faculty Yadi Wu. Poster presentation sessions will be held at 10 to 11:30 a.m. and noon to 1:30 p.m.

Markey Cancer Research Day is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is closed, but those who still wish to attend can register onsite in the lobby of the Singletary Center.


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