February 2017
Dear SBP Community,

Some stress may have a positive effect on people. In this issue, we share research that may explain why. Malene Hansen, Ph.D., led a study revealing the molecular reasons why cells exposed to a little bit of stress upfront are better at handling more stress later.

We also have stories about two heart studies, immunology research that sheds light on non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and a novel combination of drugs that may improve the outcome for patients with small cell lung cancer—a disease that currently has a five-year survival rate of only two percent.

You will want to read about the recipients of new fellowships and STRIVE grants to scientists with innovative ideas on how to improve the treatment of diseases such as lymphoma, Alzheimer’s disease, metabolic syndrome and others. 

We welcome Andrea Davidson, our new Vice President of Philanthropy. Andrea comes to us from UC San Diego and brings a wealth of experience in leading philanthropy teams and fundraising initiatives. We look forward to sharing her successes at our Institute.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger

Scientists have known for decades that enduring a little bit of stress makes human cells better at coping with subsequent stress later in life. A new study published in Nature Communications by Malene Hansen, Ph.D., with Caroline Kumsta, Ph.D., as lead author, shows that a cell process called autophagy is key to providing the benefits of temporary stress. The study creates new avenues to pursue treatments for neurological disorders linked to cell stress, such as Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Read more >> 

Robert Rickert
Research helps explain how B cell metabolism is controlled

New research from the lab of Robert Rickert, Ph.D., provides insights into how B cells meet their energy needs.  The study, published in Nature Immunology improves our understanding of B cell diseases such as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Getting to the bottom of potential fatal heart rhythms

While most patients with heart rhythm problems can be managed with medicine, others require a pacemaker. Karen Ocorr, Ph.D., has received new funding from the NIH for genetic research that could lead to ways to identify patients who would benefit from implanted defibrillators.
An "Odd" gene affects aging of the heart

As we get older, our hearts change—becoming stiffer and less efficient at generating energy. Rolf Bodmer, Ph.D., has published a new study in Aging Cell showing that a gene called “Odd” is important for preventing the heart from deteriorating prematurely.

A promising personalized approach to treat small cell lung cancer

A new study published in Cancer Cell co-authored by Robert Wechsler-Reya, Ph.D., shows how a novel drug combination may be effective in
small cell lung cancer patients whose tumors have extra copies of a gene called MYC. The
drug combination includes one standard chemotherapy and one drug that is in clinical trials for other cancers. 

Welcome to our newest and recently renewed President's Circle Members!

• Alagille Syndrome Alliance
• Karen L. Alexander
• Diane and Knox Bell
• DLA Piper
• Natalie and David Dragotto
• Rebecca and Edward Etess
• Gene DX, Inc.
• Jeanne and Gary Herberger
• Marilena and Gregory Lucier
• Diane and Thomas Might
• Beth and Norman Saks
• Dawn Saunders
• Christine J. Shamorsky
• Willis Towers Watson

Andrea Davidson Joins SBP as Vice President of Philanthropy
“We are fortunate to have an experienced and strategic development expert like Andrea join the Institute,” says Perry Nisen, CEO of SBP. “She understands the philanthropic community, and we are confident she will have a tremendous impact on the organization.”  

Research Awards
Ashima Shukla wins fellowship for research to improve B cell lymphoma treatment

Although every tumor is different, diffuse large B cell lymphomas, a fast-growing type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, are typically treated the same. Ashram Shula, Ph.D., a postdoc in the lab of Robert Rickert, Ph.D., may have found a simple way to personalize therapies for this type of cancer. Her promising research won her a fellowship from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, one of only a handful given each year.
Scientists and donors gather for STRIVE

Every new medicine starts with an idea, and earlier this month, scientists and donors gathered to hear updates on STRIVE research projects helping scientists put those ideas into practice. The STRIVE program, which urges applicants to think big, provides funding for experiments testing novel ideas that could help address unmet clinical needs.
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