The University of Arizona Cancer Center
September 2018 News

In This Issue
  1. UACC Updates
  2. New Faces at UACC
  3. Survey: Media/Speaker List
  4. Shared Resource Highlight: TACMASR
  5. National Conversation
  6. Contact Us
UACC Updates
UA Cancer Biology Graduate Student Reaches for Cure for Post-Radiation Dry Mouth
The United States is in the midst of a head-and-neck cancer epidemic. Although survival rates are relatively high — after treatment with chemotherapy and radiation — survivors can suffer permanent loss of salivary function, potentially leading to decades of health problems and difficulties eating.

It is unknown why the salivary gland sometimes cannot heal after radiation damage, but Wen Yu “Amy” Wong, BS, a University of Arizona cancer biology graduate student working with Kirsten Limesand, PhD, may have taken a step toward solving that riddle.

In the lab, Wong was able to artificially force the regeneration of salivary glands, allowing her to learn where there are obstructions in the regeneration process. Wong particularly was interested in something called the ROCK pathway, which might go awry in the wake of radiation, blocking E-cadherin and β-catenin from reuniting.

“If I use an inhibitor to prevent this ROCK signaling pathway, these two proteins come back together,” Wong said.
‘Evil’ Proteins Are a Force for Good in Estrogen Receptor-Positive Breast Cancer
Marco Padilla-Rodriguez, PhD, a recent graduate of the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson’s Graduate Program in Molecular Medicine, untangled some of the mysteries of a protein called EVL — pronounced “evil” — which is thought to reduce the ability of ER-positive breast cancer to spread to other parts of the body. This discovery could have implications for developing more precise treatments for this type of breast cancer.

In collaboration with UA Cancer Center member Ghassan Mouneimne, PhD, assistant professor of cellular & molecular medicine, Dr. Padilla-Rodriguez analyzed genetic datasets to identify EVL as a factor in taming estrogen’s cancerous effects. They found that estrogen enhances the production of EVL, which seems to keep cancer cells contained to the original tumor site. As estrogen levels fall, so do levels of EVL, freeing cancer cells to invade neighboring tissues — the first step in metastasis.

The study results recently were published online in the open-access journal Nature Communications .
UA Cancer Center Supports Hopi in Conquering Cancer
William Cance, MD (back row, middle), UACC deputy director in Phoenix, and the rest of the UACC team get ready to Climb the Mesa.
In Phoenix, the UA Cancer Center participated in the annual Hopi "Climb the Mesa" 10K run/walk on Aug. 12. UACC and St. Joseph's doctors, nurses, scrub techs, dentists and family members braved the heat to raise money to help patients undergoing cancer treatments.

The UA Cancer Center is excited to improve outreach to Native communities in our state, and recently received a supplement from the NCI for our CCSG core grant to expand rural outreach to these populations.

Proceeds from the event benefited the Hopi Cancer Assistance Fund, administered by the Hopi Cancer Support Services under the Hopi Tribal government. It was created by members of the Hopi community to allow cancer patients who live on the Hopi Reservation to apply for assistance with gas, meals and lodging.
UA Cancer Center Represented in Biden Cancer Initiative Navigation Working Group
The Breast Team's nurse navigator, Beth High, MSN, is representing the UA Cancer Center at the Biden Cancer Initiative . She is serving on the Navigation Working Group to explore strategies for expanding patient access to navigation services.

"As a member of the Navigation Working Group, I am rubbing elbows with some heavy-hitting navigation leaders," says High. "We are working to make navigation definitions and concepts clearer for all programs across the country."

Nurse navigators are assigned to cancer patients to educate and advocate for them throughout their cancer journey. A navigator connects patients to support services and other resources so they can overcome barriers to care. With a navigator in their corner, the burden of "navigating" the system is that much lighter. The concept is relatively new, but while awareness is low, the value of a nurse navigator is sky high.

The UA Cancer Center is proud of its 10 nurse navigators, and now they have a seat at the table at the Biden Initiative.
High, pictured on the far right, attended the group's first meeting, held in Austin, Texas.
Dr. Bauman to Deliver Doc Talk on ‘Throat Cancer: The New Epidemic,’ Sept. 11, 2018
Dr. Bauman speaks at a UACC Head and Neck Cancer Awareness event in April 2018.
Men are on the front lines of a throat cancer epidemic, and Julie Bauman, MD, MPH, division chief of hematology and oncology, will educate the public about this disease at tonight's Doc Talk, part of an ongoing series presented by Banner - University Medicine and the UA College of Medicine - Tucson.

Dr. Bauman will review the changing epidemiology as the patient profile shifts from someone with heavy tobacco and alcohol exposure to patients whose diseases were triggered by an HPV infection. She will also address stereotypes and stigmas that surround this diagnosis, and review prevention strategies for this highly preventable malignancy.

The community health lecture is free, and light refreshments will be provided. The event is on Tuesday, Sept. 11, from 5-7 p.m. , at Westin La Paloma, 3800 E. Sunrise Dr., Tucson . A Wellness Expo will take place from 5-6 p.m., during which time attendees can meet with physicians and other health experts, learn hands-only CPR, and more. The lecture will take place from 6-7 p.m. Registration is required. Please RSVP at or call 800-230-2273.
Drs. Persky and Kumar Featured Speakers at ‘Ask the Doctor About Lymphoma,’ Sept. 13, 2018
UA physicians Daniel Persky, MD, and Abhijeet Kumar, MD, will be the featured speakers at “Ask the Doctor About Lymphoma: Updates on Lymphoma and Treatment Options,” a free patient education program open to patients, caregivers and health-care professionals, Thursday, Sept. 13, 6 to 8:30 p.m. Presented by the Lymphoma Research Foundation, the program will be held at Tucson Marriott University Park, 880 E. Second St., Tucson. Networking begins at 6 p.m.; the program will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Drs. Persky and Kumar will provide an overview of lymphoma and discuss treatment options and research updates. The program will include a question-and-answer session.

Pre-registration for the program is required. To register, or for more information, please visit , call 800-500-9976 or email . Dinner will be provided to registered attendees. The program does not offer continuing education credits. Self-parking is $2 per hour at the hotel.
Dr. Persky is associate director of clinical investigations and medical director of the Clinical Trials Office at the UA Cancer Center.
UACC Co-Sponsoring Biden Community Cancer Event, Sept. 21, 2018
On Sept. 21, the Arizona Cancer Coalition will present a Biden Cancer Community Event in Phoenix. This meeting will kick off with an hour-long networking lunch, followed by presentations covering Arizona cancer data updates and action plans for reducing cancer burden in the state.

“The University of Arizona Cancer Center Community Outreach and Engagement team is very excited to co-sponsor this event with our partners at the Arizona Cancer Coalition,” says Jennifer Hatcher, PhD, MPH, RN, associate director for community outreach & engagement. “We share a common goal of working to reduce cancer disparities within the state of Arizona and this event will enhance those efforts.”

The event takes place from noon to 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 21, at the Desert Willow Conference Center, 4340 E. Cotton Center Blvd., in Phoenix .

Register and RSVP to Belén Herner at
Breast Team Asks, ‘Are You at High Risk for Breast Cancer?’ at Free Presentation, Sept. 29, 2018
The UA Cancer Center and Banner – University Medicine will educate the community about options for patients at high risk for breast cancer in an outreach event on Saturday, Sept. 29, from 9 a.m. to noon in Building 2 at the UA Cancer Center – North Campus, 3838 N. Campbell Ave.

The presentation, titled “Are You at High Risk for Breast Cancer?,” will cover a range of topics, including genetics, preventive surgery, risk reduction and clinical trials. A breast cancer risk assessment will be offered to all attendees who wish to participate. Attendees need no appointment to receive this assessment.

Cassie Garcia, MS, CGC, will give a presentation on how genetic testing and a detailed understanding of one’s personal and family history can help patients make decisions about screening and prevention. Rebecca Viscusi, MD, and Leigh Neumayer, MD, UA breast surgeons, will give a presentation on surgical options for high-risk patients. Sima Ehsani, MD, will give an overview on risk-reduction strategies, including chemoprevention options like tamoxifen. Pavani Chalasani, MD, MPH, leader of the UA Cancer Center’s breast cancer clinical research team, will provide information about prevention clinical trials for breast cancer. Suzette Bryan, MD, breast radiologist and assistant professor at UA College of Medicine – Tucson, will review current screening recommendations for patients at increased risk for breast cancer.
New Faces:
Welcome New Cancer Center Members
Juan J. Chipollini, MD

Dr. Chipollini’s main research interests include improving perioperative and oncologic outcomes of patients after surgery and novel therapies for advanced bladder and penile cancer patients.

He has been been accepted as a Clinical Member in the Therapeutic Development Program.

Leslie V. Farland, DSc

Dr. Farland's current research focuses on the intersection between women’s reproductive health and chronic disease risk, disparities in infertility care and fertility treatment utilization, and the etiology and risk factors for endometriosis.

She has been accepted as an Affiliate Member in the Cancer Prevention and Control Program.

UA Cancer Center Welcomes New Director of Communications and Public Affairs

Megan Guthrie, MA, has joined UACC to direct communications and public affairs. This accomplished journalist, communications and marketing specialist has a master's degree in mass communications, with a specialization in business and economic principles of journalism. During the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication commencement, she received the “Most Outstanding Graduate Student” award.

Guthrie’s work has appeared in print, radio and televised news. Previously, she has reported on health, sports, politics, business and education for the Arizona Republic, Major League Baseball, the Pac-12 Network, 12 News KNPX, Alaska Beyond Magazine, ABC15 KNXV-TV, Tucson Lifestyle Magazine and Cronkite News airing on PBS, to name a few. 

Prior to joining UACC, Guthrie served as the wellness communications specialist with UA Life & Work Connections, using multimedia tools to engage target audiences and meet strategic goals. View the 2018 video and article she produced featuring President Robert C. Robbins.
Do You Want to Help Educate the Community About Cancer?
Journalists and reporters — locally, nationally and internationally — want to talk to cancer experts.
The communications and outreach teams are compiling a list of experts willing to speak to reporters and the community. Ultimately, we hope to compile a spreadsheet that will allow us to respond quickly to requests from media and community members, many of whom might be working under tight deadlines.

Please fill out this survey if you are interested in helping to educate the wider community about issues in cancer care, prevention and research.

A hearty thanks to those of you who have already filled out the survey!
Shared Resource Highlight: Tissue Acquisition and Cellular/Molecular Analysis Shared Resource
The Tissue Acquisition and Cellular / Molecular Analysis Shared Resource (TACMASR) provides support and pathology-related services to UACC and UA researchers on a fee-for-service basis. We strive to maximize research dollars through customized, cost-effective and quality-controlled services.


TACMASR is a multi-faceted research service facility that offers:

  • Biorepository: procurement, storage and retrieval of cancer biorepository specimens as well as assistance with locating sample cohorts and access to other special collections
  • Routine Histology: paraffin & frozen samples, routine & special stains, Tissue MicroArrays (TMA)
  • Immunostaining and in situ hybridization: Immunohistochemistry (IHC) and in situ hybridization (ISH) using validated antibody staining protocols on automated platforms
  • Pathology: experimental advice, quality control and scoring
  • Digital Imaging & Microscopy: brightfield slide scanning, brightfield and widefield fluorescence microscopic image capture, Leica SP5 confocal microscope (with live cell imaging capabilities), as well as assistance in accessing and using other microscopy techniques on campus
  • Acquisition and preservation of tissues and body fluids
  • Biospecimen banking and storage
  • Clinical and pathological annotation of surgical biospecimens
National Conversation
Contact Us:
Do You Have a Publication Coming Up?
The UA Cancer Center communications unit can work with you to put together a press release to announce important, interesting or high-impact publications. Press releases can be scheduled on or shortly after your paper's publication date. We hope to work with you and your home department to put together a press release that explains your study and the greater implications of your work to the general public. Contact Anna C. Christensen at .

We can also send out press releases to announce any grants you have been awarded for your studies and research projects, not to mention other newsworthy announcements such as awards, accreditations or public events.