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Progress in a Year of Unprecedented Challenge

Prescott Deininger

Normally at this time of year, my administrative team and I would be preparing to host our annual Community Appreciation event to recognize and say “thank you” to all those who support Tulane Cancer Center’s mission and vision throughout the year. We look forward to this annual opportunity to connect with you as we celebrate the accomplishments of a year that’s ending while looking forward to the promise of one about to begin.
I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a year like no other, and while we can’t be together at an event as we normally would be, we would still like to reach out, thank you for your support and celebrate some of Tulane Cancer Center’s research milestones over the past few months – accomplishments made possible largely through the generosity of our supporters during a year of unprecedented challenge.
Since our founding in 1993, Tulane Cancer Center has developed from supporting a handful of investigators with cancer research grants to approximately 30 principal investigators with over 50 major grants, bringing in $17 million every year. We have grown and established an infrastructure and critical mass that now attracts the best and brightest in cancer research and treatment from around the world, making us a destination for focused productivity. Physician scientists and basic research investigators seek Tulane out because they WANT to come here, because they believe they can be successful here, and we couldn’t be prouder of that fact.
I invite you to enjoy the below recap of just a few of our research successes over the past year. And while I share these stories with great pride regarding how far we've come since our founding, I know the road ahead is long and we have miles to go before we get to where we all want to be - cures for cancer.
Your continued support of our mission through an end-of-year tax-deductible donation to our Cancer Research Fund can help to greatly increase our momentum along the way. Your gift provides my leadership team and I with the discretionary resources to address our most pressing needs -- things not generally covered by grant funds. We can purchase a vital piece of core equipment that can be shared by all cancer investigators, assist a research team in completing an experiment pivotal to publishing in a high-impact scientific journal or landing a major grant, or help junior faculty members learn successful grant-writing techniques that will sustain them throughout their careers. All of these options, and more, allow us to leverage your gift into additional critical resources, maximizing its overall impact in the fight against cancer.
Please consider making your gift today. To donate via credit card, please visit our website——and click on “Giving” in the navigation box on the right. Then click on "Tulane Cancer Center Research Fund" and follow the prompts.
Prefer to donate via check? Please make check payable to “Tulane Cancer Center,” reference “TCC Research Fund” in the memo line and send to Tulane Cancer Center, ATTN: K. Green, 1430 Tulane Ave., #8668, New Orleans, LA 70112.
Thank you for your support, and Happy New Year!

Prescott Deininger, PhD
Director, Tulane Cancer Center

Clinical Trial to Test Effectiveness of Drug in Treating Cancer Patients with Severe COVID-19

Nakhle Saba

Cancer patients are at higher risk of developing severe complications from COVID-19.  Despite this fact, they are often excluded from participating in clinical research trials for experimental COVID-19 treatments.  Dr. Nakhle Saba, associate professor of clinical medicine, is principal investigator on a trial to treat severe COVID-19 in hospitalized cancer patients.  Learn more.


What can the common fruit fly teach us about cancer?

Drosophila Tumor

"Over the last few decades, the fruit fly - Drosophila melanogaster - has become a successful model for studying human cancers," said Wu-Min Deng, PhD, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology. In fact, Deng says many cancer-related genes in humans are named after genes in flies, where they were first identified, and the model is helping to shed light on how tumors form, how they migrate, and how they behave. The Drosophila tumor pictured at right was induced by Dr. Deng's research team and helps to answer questions about cancer.  Learn more.


Tulane Scientists Find a Switch to Flip and Turn off Breast Cancer Growth and Metastasis

Reza Izadpanah


Dr. Reza Izadpanah, assistant professor of medicine, and his team have identified a gene that causes an aggressive form of breast cancer to rapidly grow. More importantly, they have also discovered a way to “turn it off” and inhibit cancer from occurring. The animal study results have been so compelling that the team is now working on FDA approval to begin clinical trials and has published details in the journal Scientific ReportsLearn more.


Spike in US Colorectal Cancer Rates From Age 49 to 50 Suggests Many Cases Likely Undiagnosed Before Screenings

Jordan Karlitz

A year-by-year age analysis of colorectal cancer rates among U.S. adults found a 46% increase in new diagnoses from ages 49 to 50, indicating that many latent cases of the disease are likely going undiagnosed until routine screenings begin at 50. Dr. Jordan Karlitz, associate clinical professor of medicine and staff gastroenterologist at the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System, was lead author on the study that appeared in JAMA Network OpenLearn more.


Researchers Identify Marker That May Predict Whether Lung Cancer Likely to Spread

Tony Hu

Researchers at Tulane University have identified a protein on tumor-derived extracellular vesicles that indicates if a non-small-cell lung tumor is likely to metastasize. The protein could be used as a biomarker to develop a rapid, minimally invasive test to catch these cancers early when they are more treatable, said study author Tony Hu, PhD, Weatherhead Presidential Chair in Biotechnology Innovation at Tulane University School of Medicine.  Learn more.


Study Targeting Tumor Genetic Mutations Yields ‘Practice Changing’ Results

Oliver Sartor

Prostate cancer therapies have shown significant advances during the past decade, with multiple new therapies being introduced for patients with advanced disease.  Now, the early results of a clinical trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine reveals for the first time that therapies based on tumor genetics – specifically DNA repair defects – may also show promise in treating some men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer.  Oliver Sartor, MD, head of Tulane Cancer Center’s Prostate Cancer Research Program, co-authored the study.  Learn more.


Click here for additional stories of progress in 2020.


For more information on Tulane Cancer Center news and events, please contact:

Melanie N. Cross
Manager of Communications
Tulane Cancer Center
1430 Tulane Ave., Box 8668
New Orleans, LA 70112