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University of Iowa News Release


April 2, 2009

New UI cancer research grants honor Larry Oberley

Two members of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa -- Dawn Quelle (photo, left) and Garry Buettner -- will receive the first grants awarded through the Oberley Seed Grant Program. The cancer center established the program this year to honor Larry Oberley (photo, lower left), Ph.D., for his contributions to the center and to science.

A world leader in the field of understanding the relationship between free radicals and cancer, Oberley was a UI professor of radiation oncology and directed the Free Radical and Radiation Biology Program in the Department of Radiation Oncology from September 1998 to January 2008. He also was deputy director and program leader of the separate Free Radical Cancer Biology Program at Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center. Oberley passed away in the spring of 2008.

"Larry was a world-renowned scientist who helped establish the field of free radical and antioxidant biology. He was widely admired by colleagues and friends for his dedication to science, other scientists and to the many students he mentored over his career of more than 30 years. He was a great role model for me," said George Weiner, M.D., director of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UI and professor of internal medicine who holds the Dr. C. E. Block Cancer Research Chair.

The Oberley Seed Grant Program awards are given to Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center members to pursue interdisciplinary and collaborative projects focused on highly promising new ideas that have a high likelihood of leading to external research funding.

Quelle and Buettner will each receive $50,000, and they will be formally recognized at the Oberley Memorial Free Radical Symposium that will be held April 3 and 4.

Quelle, Ph.D., UI associate professor of pharmacology, will study a molecule that appears to play a role in safeguarding the genome and preventing cancer. Previous studies suggest that the molecule, called NIAM (Nuclear Interactor of ARF and Mdm2), is a tumor suppressor that helps maintain chromosomal stability. The new research aims to improve understanding of certain cancer pathways involving NIAM, which in turn could lead to future testing of new anticancer therapies.

Buettner, Ph.D., UI professor of radiation oncology in the Free Radical and Radiation Biology Program, will investigate a new approach for treating a subset of cancers. The approach is based on using high doses of vitamin C. The researchers will test the idea that vitamin C can render tumor cells more vulnerable to radiation therapy by altering the balance of oxidative stress inside tumor cells.

To learn more about the symposium visit

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Care Media Relations, 5135 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: Jennifer Brown, 319-335-9917,