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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 11, 2009

UI cancer biology researchers receive federal grants

Researchers in the Free Radical and Radiation Biology Program in the University of Iowa Department of Radiation Oncology have received more than $3.7 million in federal funding through five different grants to conduct cancer biology research.

The largest grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy and NASA to Douglas Spitz, Ph.D., professor of radiation oncology and director of the Free Radical and Radiation Biology Program. Spitz will use the three-year, nearly $1.4 million grant to study molecular mechanisms that mediate responses to low dose radiation exposure in cells and animals. These studies could improve understanding of health risks from low dose radiation to both patients and workers.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI), one of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded a total of nearly $2.3 million through four grants:

-- Spitz also received a two-year, $363,000 grant to investigate whether specialized high fat/low carbohydrate diets that influence cancer cell oxidative metabolism can enhance the anti-cancer effects of radiation and chemotherapy in mouse models of human head and neck cancer and pancreatic cancer.

--Apollina Goel, Ph.D., assistant professor of radiation oncology, received a four-year, $1.1 million grant to study the biological effects of combining anti-myeloma drugs and radiotherapy targeted to the skeleton to treat multiple myeloma. The study results could improve understanding how therapy resistance develops in myeloma. The first two years of the grant will be funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

-- Frederick Domann, Ph.D., professor of radiation oncology, received a one-year $265,823 grant to study a gene called SOD2 that appears to be involved in cancer initiation and progression. The study will focus on how epigenetic mechanisms (gene changes that are not initiated by gene mutations) control the expression of SOD2 in cancer cells.

-- Andrean Simons-Burnett, Ph.D., received a five-year, $569,105 career development/transition to independence award. Simons-Burnett will investigate molecular targets that might be used to improve cancer therapy by enhancing metabolic oxidative stress in animal models of head and neck cancers. Spitz is Simon-Burnett's sponsor on the grant.

Spitz, Domann and Goel all are members of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UI.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Care Media Relations, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room E110 GH, Iowa City, IA  52242-1009

MEDIA CONTACT: Jennifer Brown, 319-356-7124,