University of California, San Diego | Rebecca and John Moores UCSD Cancer Center
Within Walking Distance: New Pancreatic Cancer
Treatments at the Moores UCSD Cancer Center
“As the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S., pancreatic cancer is overlooked, underfunded,
and misunderstood,” says Andrew Lowy, M.D., Chief of Surgical Oncology at the Moores UCSD
Cancer Center. “This year, there will be 37,000 new patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer,
but of these, nearly 36,000 will die of their disease.”
In This Issue While a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer can Cancer Task Force, which is charged with
be devastating, patients and families can setting the direction of clinical research in
Message from the Director find hope at the Moores UCSD Cancer pancreatic cancer in the U.S.
Dennis A. Carson, M.D. Center, where each day researchers are David Cheresh, Ph.D., Associate Director
page 2 making daily progress in discovering and for Translational Research at the Cancer
developing cutting-edge treatments and a Center, is searching for the “Achilles’ heel”
possible cure for pancreatic cancer. of cancer with a cross-disciplinary team of
page 3 Unlike other cancer centers, the Moores scientists including biologists, chemists,
Cancer Center’s researchers are utilizing and engineers. Their recent findings
basic science to understand cancer at a include a new aggressive nanoparticle/drug
biological and molecular level. Combined combination that halts pancreatic and kidney
Donors Make the Difference with advanced options for surgery, radiation cancers in mice. This new treatment
Rena Kerwin Memorial Scholarship therapy, chemotherapy, targeted drug strategy uses molecular “smart bombs” to
page 5 therapy, and clinical trials, patients are at target metastasis with anticancer drugs.
the nexus of emerging therapies, many of “We achieved the desired anti-cancer effect
News of Note which are only available at the Cancer Center. while delivering the drug at 15 times below
Sadler Heads State ACS
Radiation Oncology Expanded
“With a diverse research staff, we are previous levels,” says Cheresh, who is also
systematically cornering cancer from both Professor and Vice-Chair of Pathology.
the research bench and the patient’s “We’re seeing a novel approach that has
Upcoming Events bedside,” says Lowy, Co-Chair of the an impact on metastatic growth without
page6 National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Pancreatic c o n t i n u e d o n pa g e 2
Pathways is a publication of the
Leading-Edge Research Projects
Moores UCSD Cancer Center.
Executive Editor: Pam Werner Presented at National Conference
Contributors: Jade Berggren, Jackie Carr, Meaningful advances in cancer detection, prevention, and
Rachel de la Vega, Sarah Locher, Regan
treatment are possible only through cutting-edge research.
Olsson, Gretchen Pelletier, Nancy Stringer,
Highlighted are a few Moores UCSD Cancer Center research
projects that were recently presented at the American
Please contact us if you wish to have
Association for Cancer Research conference:
your name removed from our mailing list.
Comments are also welcome. Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)
3855 Health Sciences Drive # 0658 Moores Cancer Center researchers have found an important
La Jolla, CA 92093-0658 difference between two forms of CLL—aggressive and
(858) 822-0175 mild. Leukemic cells from patients with the aggressive form
c o n t i n u e d o n pa g e 3
Message from the Director Pa n c r e a t i c C a n c e r Tr e a t m e n t s
continued from front cover
T his year we are celebrating the negative side effects, such as weight loss and toxicity.”
Moores UCSD Cancer Center’s A few doors down, Tony Reid, M.D., Ph.D.,
30th anniversary as a federally Director of Clinical Research at the Cancer Center,
designated cancer center. Such an is advancing new therapeutic approaches for patients
honor, bestowed by the National and pioneering the use of gene therapy, viral vectors,
Cancer Institute, is not easily earned and targeted therapies in clinical trials.
or maintained. Of the approximately
“A patient entering our Cancer Center may embark
2,500 entities in the U.S. providing
on one of many treatment paths depending on whether
cancer care, only 41 are NCI-designated
or not their cancer is operable,” says Reid, a medical
Comprehensive Cancer Centers.
oncologist. “Even when all signs of a tumor are
This year also marks the third anniversary of the opening of our surgically removed, a few cancer cells may remain.
beautiful facility in La Jolla. Since this time, we have experienced It’s our mission to seek and destroy those cells.”
tremendous growth, including a 20 percent increase in the
By analyzing the DNA of a tumor, Reid’s team can
number of patients who receive care from us. And in just the last
tailor a customized vaccine to pursue the rogue cells.
year, we have recruited eight new physicians.
This clinical trial vaccine, administered by injection,
This year also marks our expansion of services to North County enhances the immune system to detect and attack
to provide better access of care to our patients. Some of the a mutant protein called K-ras that is secreted by
Moores Cancer Center radiation oncologists and surgeons now pancreatic cancer cells.
see patients in clinical offices leased from the San Diego Cancer
Since surgery is only appropriate for 20 percent of
Center in Encinitas, and this fall a radiation oncology center
pancreatic cancer cases, it may be necessary to treat
will be added with some of the same advanced technology we
the tumor itself by shrinking the growth away from
provide here in La Jolla.
the blood supply. This second clinical trial approach
Since we moved into our new facility, there has been exciting is accomplished by injecting the tumor with a cancer
progress in our research and development activities. We have killer called “tumor necrosis factor,” or TNF, a gene
established collaborative research programs with local biotech produced naturally by the human body.
and pharmaceutical companies that exceed $5 million. An
Using a tiny ultrasound imaging device on the
internal collaboration with UCSD’s Scripps Institution of
end of a probe, a scope is guided down the throat
Oceanography has led to the discovery of an ultra-potent
and into the
new anti-cancer drug that is rapidly moving toward clinical
trials. Results from clinical trials of a gene immune therapy
for leukemia developed at the Moores Cancer Center were
can be viewed.
so successful that this therapy will be extended for testing in
Then a high
patients with solid tumors. And a clinical trial involving cancer
stem cells has shown positive results against myeloproliferative
TNF is injected
diseases, which can evolve into leukemia.
directly into the
These are just a few examples of the growth and progress that is tumor. Done
taking place every day at the Moores UCSD Cancer Center— in combination
where our only focus is defeating cancer. with chemotherapy and radiation, this therapy holds
promise for becoming a new standard of care.
Sincerely, “When a cancer has spread, the gold standard of
chemotherapy is administered in combination with an
angiogenesis inhibitor which helps stop the cancer
from using new blood vessels,” says Reid. “This
clinical trial offers a combination of drug therapy
that can help stop or slow the cancer’s progression.”
Dennis A. Carson, M.D.
Director, Moores UCSD Cancer Center For more information about new pancreatic cancer treatments at
Chugai Pharmaceutical Chair in Cancer the Moores UCSD Cancer Center, visit http://cancer.ucsd.edu/.
Associate Dean, UCSD Health Sciences
continued from front cover
Biorepository Now Collecting Samples
to Test Early Cancer Detection
A new biorepository, or speciman
bank, research study at the Moores
UCSD Cancer Center could lead to
way inside an
ultra low, minus
80 degree Celsius
early detection of some cancers and freezer to maximize
ultimately identify new medical cures and its potential for
treatments. Richard B. Schwab, M.D., future use.
Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine Currently, the
at the Moores Cancer Center, is leading largest use of the
have higher levels of activated survival the longitudinal study to collect samples biorepository is
molecules than patients with mild disease. and analyze corresponding data from Richard B. Schwab, M.D.
This suggests that aggressive cells may participating cancer patients. samples from cancer patients in the hopes
respond more strongly to survival signals
“The fundamental significance of this of developing a screening test for early
from surrounding cells and that interfering
biorepository is that these results can diagnosis and possibly individualized
with these signals could make the cells
be used to develop diagnostic tests for treatment. Studies of cancer-associated
more susceptible to chemotherapy.
early detection,” says Schwab. “We have fatigue and weight loss are also planned.
Improving Detection Accuracy learned that when caught in its earliest Until now, because of the challenges of
Moores Cancer Center researchers are stages, many cancers are curable.” setting up a biorepository, only some
developing an automated system designed
As a translational researcher, Schwab not tests have been studied on samples from
to improve accuracy in the detection of
only treats patients in the Cancer Center a few healthy volunteers or very limited
malignant cells during surgery, ensuring
but also works in a laboratory to move specimens from other centers. However,
complete removal of cancerous tissue.
research discoveries into clinical practice. Schwab says the benefit of collecting
Currently, margins of the removed tumor
Based on the vision of Dennis Carson, the samples and data greatly outweighs
are tested after surgery, so some patients may
M.D., Director of the Moores UCSD the challenges and notes the program
need to return for repeat surgery if the
Cancer Center, this biorepository collects, is very cost-effective. “There are many
tests indicate there is still cancerous tissue.
processes, and stores blood, urine, and different types of cancer that have a huge
Prostate Screening tumor samples, as well as corresponding burden of disease, and these samples can
Current screening methods for prostate data that goes along with each sample, for accelerate countless research projects.”
cancer, specifically prostate-specific antigen research studies. These studies take place The Moores UCSD Cancer Center
(PSA) tests and digital rectal examinations, each day in the Cancer Center’s research biorepository was first seeded by Carson
are not perfect. Cancer Center researchers towers with the hope of learning more but now receives partial funding from
have developed a molecular test to about cancer. the National Cancer Institute (NCI)
detect a recently discovered “fusion”
“The biorepository is critical to through the Cancer Center grant and
gene that is only present in cancerous
understanding, preventing, and treating in collaboration with Ajit Varki, M.D.,
and pre-cancerous prostate cells. Fusion
cancer,” says Carson. “However, UCSD’s world-renowned glycobiology
genes may have the ability to predict
government grants are inadequate to expert. Schwab hopes the biorepository
cancer development and indicate the
support sample collection, so Schwab’s will accelerate collaborations of UCSD
aggressiveness of the cancer.
program depends upon community faculty, other academic collaborators,
For more information about the innovative research support.” and the innovative San Diego biotech
programs at the Moores UCSD Cancer Center, visit industry, ultimately leading to new cures
http://cancer.ucsd.edu/Research. Each newly admitted patient to the
Cancer Center is invited to participate for cancer. “It’s critical to the future of
in the study. Nearly every patient is a cancer care,” says Schwab.
possible applicant for the program and a
large number of patients are participating.
To date, the Cancer Center has collected
more than 750 blood and urine samples.
Each sample is stored in a very specific
News Briefs Celebrity Chefs Cook Gala
Raises More Than $725,000
Bench to Bedside: Potential New Therapy for Rare Blood Disorder
Collaboration between industry and academia has led to
human clinical trials of a new drug for a rare class of blood
diseases called myeloproliferative disorders, a slow-growing
blood cancer that spreads in the bone marrow and the
peripheral blood. In just one year, this unique partnership
of stem cell researchers from UC San Diego, Dana-Farber
Cancer Institute, the Mayo Clinic, and TargeGen, a San
Diego-based pharmaceutical company, moved from
identifying the most promising drug candidate to clinical Carol Vassiliadis matches $100,000 at the Gala
trials for a new drug to fight this degenerative disorder, “Fund-a-Need” auction.
Catriona Jamieson, M.D., Ph.D.,
with research associate Dennis which affects more than 100,000 Americans. Led by
Young and lab technician Annelie Catriona H.M. Jamieson, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor More than 400 guests gathered recently
Abrahamsson of Medicine at UCSD and Director of Stem Cell Research at the 27th annual Celebrity Chefs Cook
at the Moores UCSD Cancer Center, the research group found an inhibitor that can Gala, raising more than $725,000 in
stop the overproliferation of blood cells that results in problems with blood clotting, heart support of the Moores UCSD Cancer
attacks, and, in some cases, leukemia. The drug is currently being tested in human Center. The gala’s Italian theme “Bella
clinical trials at the UCSD School of Medicine and other major medical research universities. Notte,” or “beautiful night,” set the tone
for the evening.
Non-Invasive MRI Provides Window into Genetic Properties of Brain Tumors
Carol Vassiliadis, a member of the
Researchers at the UCSD School of Medicine, for the first Moores Cancer Center board, set the bar
time, have shown that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for the benefit by establishing a generous
technology has the potential to non-invasively identify match gift of $100,000 for the event’s
tumors and determine which of them, based on their “Fund-a-Need” auction. Monies raised
molecular properties, may be responsive to specific forms from the auction will go to help recruit
of treatment. Prior to this study, diagnosis and treatment of more stellar researchers and physicians
brain tumors involved invasive biopsies or surgeries to to the Cancer Center. Guests rallied to
obtain tissue and cell samples. UCSD colleagues analyzed support the important cause, pledging an
more than 2,000 genes that had previously been shown to additional $230,000, which brought the
have altered expression in glioblastoma multiforme tumors, the most common and most auction’s grand total to $330,000 in gifts.
aggressive type of brain tumor. Understanding this genetic activity could prove to be a
“Private support allows us to bring more
very strong predictor of survival in patients and explain why some patients have better
of the best and brightest physicians and
outcomes than others.
scientists to the Center, which is the key
to our continued success,” says Dennis
Aloha! Join us August 24 to Surf for a Cure Carson, M.D., Director of the Moores
UCSD Cancer Center. “The gifts from
Now in its 15th year, the annual Luau and Longboard
the gala will benefit patients everywhere
Invitational has become the premiere surfing benefit in
as we recruit more physician-scientists
Southern California and is one of the most successful
to help translate discoveries today into
surfing-related fundraisers in the world. By combining the
better treatments tomorrow.”
“aloha spirit” of surfing with the business and scientific
communities, this event has raised more than $2.6 million Sue Kalish, San Diego Magazine’s
to benefit research, education, and outreach programs at Volunteer of the Year and 2007 Celebrity
the Moores UCSD Cancer Center. This year’s title sponsor Chefs Cook Gala chair, organized the
is Pfizer. Surf ’s up at 7:00 a.m. as teams of business April 12 event. Fred Frye, M.D., and his
professionals and surfing legends paddle alongside each wife Joy oversaw donations of fine wines,
other in friendly competition. Luau festivities commence which were paired with guest chefs’
just before noon and feature a Hawaii-inspired buffet, entertainment by Polynesian signature appetizers during the reception.
dancers, and an auction featuring surfing-related items. For more information on supporting the Moores
For more information on tickets, tables, and sponsorships, please contact Jennilyn Tan, Special Events Coordinator, UCSD Cancer Center, call (858) 822-0175.
at (858) 822-0023 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, visit www.longboardluau.org for more event details.
Donors Make the Difference News of Note
Rena Kerwin Memorial Scholarship Sadler Heads State Division of
American Cancer Society
Heather Herman smiled when she saw the
large bouquet of carnations presented to Georgia Sadler,
her—a tradition for Rena Kerwin Memorial B.S.N., M.B.A.,
Scholarship recipients upon completion of
Ph.D., Director of
Heather, a nurse practitioner with the at the Moores UCSD
Doris A. Howell Service, a palliative Cancer Center and
care consultation program at the Clinical Professor of
Moores UCSD Cancer Center, had Alan Klier with Heather Herman and JoAnn Surgery at the School
Kozakowski-Koch of UCSD Home Infusion
been awarded the scholarship to pursue of Medicine, recently
oncology, and pain management and to
an end-of-life nursing certification. added President of the California Division
nurture the spirit of compassion within
This “train the trainer” program was of the American Cancer Society (ACS)
the nursing staff of the Cancer Center
designed so that upon completion to her list of things to do. In this year-
and the UCSD Home Infusion
Heather could then train her colleagues. long appointment, Sadler will oversee the
Pharmacy. By enriching the
“Compassionate care makes a real professional caregiver, the Rena Kerwin advancement of the society’s initiatives,
difference, and I wanted to foster it in Scholarship serves to improve the customized to California’s population.
caregivers, especially nurses, who quality of life of the patients served by Some initiatives include cancer control,
become so important to patients,” says those nurses. Promoting educational community awareness of clinical trials,
Alan Klier. In 1999, Alan, along with growth is the vehicle for sharing the and the reduction of health disparities.
Rena’s friends and family, created the beauty of Rena’s spirit with others “Tobacco is a leading cause of cancer, and
Rena Kerwin Memorial Scholarship in challenged by their health. language barriers inhibit many Californians
memory of his life-long partner, who
In addition, some of the scholarship from understanding the importance of
lost her three-year battle with breast funds will support a professional smoking cessation,” says Sadler. “ACS
cancer. Rena chose to remain at home seminar this fall on pain management, is committed to delivering the smoking
during her illness and ulitilized the open to all nurses, at the Moores cessation message in multiple languages
professional nursing services provided UCSD Cancer Center. The seminar and in culturally appropriate ways.”
by the UCSD Home Care. will feature Betty Ferrell, Ph.D.,
The scholarship is designed to promote F.A.A.N., from the City of Hope UCSD Radiation Oncology
continuing education in home care, Comprehensive Cancer Center. Services Expand to North County
San Diego North County cancer patients
A Vision for the Future of the Moores UCSD Cancer Center will soon receive better access to the most
sophisticated radiation therapy. The
Give Today To become a member of the UC San
Diego Legacy Society, simply notify the
UC San Diego Department of Radiation
Oncology, in conjunction with the UCSD
The UC San Diego Legacy Society UCSD Office of Planned Giving with
Medical Center, the UCSD School
recognizes individuals who provide your intentions. We can provide sample
of Medicine, and the Moores UCSD
support for the University through bequest language for inclusion in your
Cancer Center, has broken ground for
planned gifts. Memberships belong to will or trust, or otherwise assist you with
those who have made a deferred gift a plan that meets your philanthropic and construction of a radiation oncology
to UCSD through one or more of the financial goals. With careful planning, center at the San Diego Cancer Center
following methods: it is possible to reduce or eliminate in Encinitas.
• Provision in their will or revocable trust income and transfer taxes, while turning The new center will feature the Trilogy
• Life income gift (charitable gift annuity, appreciated assets into income for linear accelerator, the same sophisticated
pooled income fund, charitable remainder yourself or others. technology used at the Moores UCSD
trust, or charitable lead trust) Cancer Center in La Jolla. The Trilogy by
For more information and to request a free copy of
• Retirement plan beneficiary designation
Your UC San Diego Guide to Giving, please Varian, Inc., offers unmatched precision,
• Life insurance policy beneficiary designation
contact Geoff Graham at (858) 534-2249, and power, and speed in pinpointing and
• Life estate gift (remainder interest in
visit our Web site at www.plannedgiving.ucsd.edu.
real property) destroying tumors deep inside the body.
Moores Cancer Center Events Helping You
Sunday, August 10 Community Event Partners
Survivor Beach - Pre Luau Event The Moores UCSD Cancer Center is
Sponsored by Genentech grateful to our community event partners: The following phone numbers
Scripps Pier, La Jolla individuals and organizations who host and Web site address are
8:00 – 10:00 AM fundraising events to benefit cancer provided here to help you
Sunday, August 24 research. Community events promote both quickly and easily access the
15th Annual Luau & Longboard Invitational cancer awareness and the important work
information you need:
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, The Pawka Green of the Moores Cancer Center as the only
7:00 AM – 1:00 PM Longboard Invitational NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer General information
9:00 AM Registration begins Center in the region. Recent events have (858) 534-7600
11:30 AM Luau opens included golf tournaments, wine tasting
dinners, art shows, and a variety of other New patients
Wednesday, September 10 (858) 822-6100 or
Faculty Ambassador Event
Interested in Planning an Event? toll-free (866) 773-2703
“The Latest Information on Melanoma”
If you are interested in supporting
Greg Daniels, M.D., Ph.D. Clinical trials
Moores UCSD Cancer Center, Goldberg Auditorium the Moores Cancer Center as the
beneficiary of your fundraising event,
6:00 – 8:00 PM
please contact Tammy Traudt at (858) If you are a physician
Saturday, October 11
822-1390 or email@example.com. (888) 822-8741
15th Annual Bruce Gorder UCSD 5K Walk for Melanoma
Moores UCSD Cancer Center Charitable donations
For reservations and information, please
8:30 AM – 12:30 PM (858) 822-0175
call (858) 822-0175. For a complete event
Saturday, May 16, 2009 schedule, please visit our Web site at
28th Annual Celebritry Chefs Cook Gala Web site
Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina www.cancer.ucsd.edu
6:00 - 11:00 PM
Moores UCSD Cancer Center
President of the Board ex officio members
Rudolph Rehm Marye Anne Fox, Ph.D.
David A. Brenner, M.D.
board of directors
J. Samuel Armstrong, IV
Gordon P. Boerner
Wayne Bardwell, Ph.D.
Pathways SUMMER 2008
Marilynn Boesky Anne Otterson
University of California, San Diego | Rebecca and John Moores UCSD Cancer Center
Carol Littlejohn Chang
Howard I. Cohen Director, Moores UCSD
William T. Comer, Ph.D. Non-Profit Org.
Daniel J. Gatto U.S. Postage
Dennis A. Carson, M.D.
Frank M. Goldberg P A I D
Charles F. Gorder, Sr., Esq. Deputy Director 3855 Health Sciences Drive #0658
San Diego, CA
Donald W. Grimm Research Operations La Jolla, CA 92093-0658
Permit No. 1909
Jerome S. Katzin, Esq. Thomas J. Kipps, M.D., Ph.D.
Jeffrey Lipinsky Medical Director
Cinda K. Lucas Oncology Services
Henry L. Nordhoff Barbara A. Parker, M.D.
John W. Otterson, II Associate Director
Tori Pitruzzello Administration
Ian Pyka Ira S. Goodman
Justin Renaudin, M.D.
Director of Development
Mary Rand Taylor
Pamela M. Werner, CFRE