CONTACT: ARIANNE NARDO
8788 John Pappajohn Pavilion
Iowa City IA 52242
Release: May 16, 2000
UI cancer researchers receive American Cancer Society seed grants
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Two University of Iowa researchers have been selected
for American Cancer Society Seed Grant awards through the UI Cancer Center.
The seed grant awards provide junior faculty members and independent scientists
with the support and funding needed to advance their projects.
Kristine L. Kwekkeboom, Ph.D., assistant professor in the UI College of Nursing,
received a grant of $9,150, and Galen B. Schneider, D.D.S., Ph.D., assistant
professor of prosthodontics and a researcher in the Dows Institute for Dental
Research in the UI College of Dentistry, received a grant for $17, 500. Both
individuals will receive funding for one year to complete their studies and
Schneider will investigate the role of the focal adhesion kinase (FAK) protein
and its relation to the development and progression of oral cancer.
"The goals of this study are to begin to use biochemical and molecular
approaches to analyze the mechanisms of metastasis associated with the protein
FAK. This will determine if it is expressed and functions differently in normal
oral epithelial cells versus those that are likely to develop into tumors,"
Investigating these molecular mechanisms of FAK associated with oral tumor
growth and metastasis may give researchers insight into how oral tumor cell
growth can be regulated. If FAK is shown to have a regulatory function in
cell growth and differentiation of oral epithelial tumor cells, it has the
potential to be a therapeutic target.
Through his work Schneider hopes to lay the foundation for future studies
concerned with the regulation of abnormal FAK production in oral cancer progression
and the initiation of new therapeutic strategies.
Guided imagery and its effectiveness as a strategy for pain management in
cancer patients will be the focus of Kwekkeboom's study. The technique involves
creating and experiencing mental images that help patients relax, feel at
ease and perceive less pain, Kwekkeboom said. Picturing a pleasant scene (a
beach or mountain, for example) or changing the "image" of pain
(such as imagining a cool shower over a firing blaze), can help patients concentrate
their efforts and assert control over their pain. However, the strategy does
not work for everyone, Kwekkeboom said.
"The goal of my research is to figure out why imagery works for some
people and not others," she said. "What is it about those people
who get relief of pain with imagery that differs from
the people who don't get relief? If we can identify characteristics that
correlate with successful use of imagery, we may be able to identify those
people who are likely to benefit ahead of time."
Kwekkeboom has developed a model with several variables that determine a
patient's success with imagery, such as their ability to use their imagination,
preferred style of coping, and expectations of what will occur when they use
imagery techniques. The grant will investigate and test those hypothesized
relationships to understand their strength.
Imagery is not a new principle in the nursing practice; it has been taught
in nursing schools and continuing education programs for several years.
University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the
UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care,
medical education and research programs and services they provide.