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CU Cancer Center News and Stories


Research    Education    Community    Blood Cancer

Elijah Johnson Came to the CU Cancer Center to Research the Mutation That Makes Him More Likely to Develop Cancer 

Growing up in Windsor, Colorado, Elijah Johnson thought he would grow up to be a professional musician. He never considered a career as a biomedical researcher. But that all changed when his mother was diagnosed with Li-Fraumeni Syndrome (LFS), a rare genetic mutation that increases the risk of cancer.  

Author Greg Glasgow | Publish Date August 30, 2023
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Education    Pancreatic Cancer    Surgical Oncology

Dutch Surgeons Visit University of Colorado to Learn Pancreatic Cancer Procedure

When surgeons from the Netherlands needed help establishing a national program for patients with hard-to-treat pancreatic cancer, they knew just whom to turn to: Marco Del Chiaro, MD, PhD, professor and division chief of surgical oncology in the University of Colorado Department of Surgery.

Author Greg Glasgow | Publish Date March 09, 2023
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Research    Education    Community    Equity Diversity and Inclusion

PIKE-PREP Supports Scholars from Underrepresented Backgrounds in Pursuing Top-Tier Education

Xander Bradeen began his undergraduate studies at the University of Colorado Boulder planning to major in neuroscience as a pre-med student, the first in his family to pursue a college education. Then he learned about prairie voles.

Author Rachel Sauer | Publish Date November 14, 2022
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Research    Education    Students    Diversity   

Diversity in Cancer Research Program Hosts Undergraduate Students for Hands-On Experience at CU Cancer Center

For Isaiah Richardson, conducting research as an American Cancer Society Diversity in Cancer Research Intern this summer was an important academic and professional experience, but it was also personal.

Author Rachel Sauer | Publish Date August 18, 2022
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Education    Community    Faculty   

'Learn About Cancer Day' Inspires Local High School Students to Pursue Careers in Science and Research 

The future of cancer research and care got a little brighter on April 22 as more than 50 biomedical science students from Denver-area high schools came to the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus for Learn About Cancer Day.

Author Greg Glasgow | Publish Date April 26, 2022
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Research    Education    Community

CU Cancer Center Top Stories of 2021

This was another exciting year for the University of Colorado Cancer Center, and we were able to share more than 80 stories spotlighting our members and their research. We also shared the cancer journeys of some of our patients.

Author Cancer Center | Publish Date December 16, 2021
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Research    Education    Magazine

Educational Pipelines Ensure Future Interest in Cancer Research

When you ask a classroom full of middle schoolers what they want to be when they grow up, you’re likely to get a range of answers, from “pro athletes” and “astronauts” to “musicians” and “movie stars.”

Author Valerie Gleaton | Publish Date July 26, 2021
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Education    Awareness    Magazine

Dustin Diamond’s Death Proves There is Still Much For Researchers to Learn About Cancer

Actor Dustin Diamond, best known for playing the nerdy character Screech on teen sitcom “Saved By the Bell,” died Monday at age 44. Diamond died just weeks after being diagnosed with stage 4 small cell carcinoma, a type of cancer that commonly occurs in the lungs but can also originate in the prostate or gastrointestinal tract.

Author Greg Glasgow | Publish Date February 03, 2021
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Education    Awareness

CU Cancer Center Celebrates World Cancer Day

For the past 20 years, the Union for International Cancer Control has designated February 4 as World Cancer Day — a day to raise awareness, improve education, and catalyze personal, collective, and government action around the deadly disease. The organization hopes to reduce the number of premature deaths from cancer and noncommunicable diseases by one-third by 2030.

Author Cancer Center | Publish Date February 02, 2021
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Education    COVID-19

CCSP Launches COVID-19 toolkit for patient navigators

The Colorado Cancer Screening Program (CCSP) for Patient Navigation is working with the safety net clinics throughout Colorado to help respond to the coronavirus and COVID-19. 

“We are responding to the urgent request from our clinics, community partners and state agencies, indicating navigators need support to best serve clients in the front line and to help support patients with acute chronic conditions” says Andrea (Andi) Dwyer, Director of CCSP. 

Within the CCSP program, feedback from the clinics note that their navigators have had to turn their efforts to working with COVID-19 as the priority. 

“The cancer prevention aspect is not lost as the navigators and clinics, as we work on sharing the importance of rescheduling colonoscopies and if patients have signs and symptoms, they still need to be seen urgently, but we need to support the dire needs of our partners and their patients,” says Dwyer.

Working with Dr. Patricia Valverde, the Primary Investigator (PI) of the Patient Navigator Training Collaborative (PNTC) and the statewide Alliance for Community Health Workers and Patient Navigators, Dwyer and the teams are helping inform the development of supports such as telephone scripts, workflow and assessment tools, technical support and education modules and sessions to better support navigators who are now adapting their positions to work in remote settings, on the front lines and in a much different context. 

“Having the expertise and input from clinicians, programs partners, bio-ethic professionals and policy experts is helping us create the best support for our Colorado navigators,” says Valverde.

Author Cancer Center | Publish Date April 23, 2020
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Education    Cancer

What is Cancer?

On a sunny fall Saturday after a CU Buffs win, my 13-year-old, Leif, and I walked down to Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall to talk with strangers about cancer. Among others, we spoke with a mid-60s visiting Arizona State football fan, a very cute eight-year-old girl, and some guy with dreadlocks named Carl. We asked them three questions: What is cancer, How do you get cancer, and How do you treat cancer? I also asked these same questions of University of Colorado Cancer Center researchers including Nobel Laureate, Tom Cech, PhD, director of the CU Boulder BioFrontiers Institute, and D. Ross Camidge, MD, PhD, Joyce Zeff Chair in Lung Cancer Research and Director of the CU Thoracic Oncology Clinical and Clinical Research Programs. Can you guess who said what?     

Author Cancer Center | Publish Date February 11, 2020
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NCI Event: Symposium on Personal Control of Genomic Data for Research

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is hosting a symposium to explore the impact of personal control of genomic data sharing to research, clinical
care, and patient well-being and engagement. 
NCI welcomes advocates, researchers, policy leaders, and the public to
this symposium, held under the auspices of the Cancer Moonshot. 
The symposium will host sessions on the following topics:
• Motivations for and perceptions of participants controlling their own
• Facilitating personal control of data sharing – existing approaches and
• Risks and benefits to participants and their communities; and
• The role of individuals who wish to share their data in clinical practice and healthcare.
Registration is available for in-person or online attendance. To register,
visit https://events.cancer.gov/participantsharedata.
Please note that registration is complimentary. There will also be an opportunity to submit abstracts for poster presentation during the symposium
Symposium Details
The symposium will take place from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM ET on September 26, 2019 and from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM ET on September 27, 2019. This
event will take place in Masur Auditorium in the Clinical Center on the
main NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. 
The agenda is still in development, but additional information will be
available in the near future on:

Author Cancer Center | Publish Date August 23, 2019
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Research    Education    Cancer

Biotech fieldtrip helps CU Research Summer Fellowship Program students explore range of career options

CRSF students observe third-year neurosurgery residents at the Center for Surgical Innovation

The University of Colorado Cancer Center Cancer Research Summer Fellowship (CRSF) program provides the opportunity for about 40 undergraduate students to learn the basics of cancer research over the course of 10 weeks working in the laboratories of scientific mentors. In addition, the program helps participants explore the range of careers related to cancer science. One of these activities aimed at opening students’ eyes to career possibilities is the Explore Biotech Fieldtrip. This July, students visited the Biosciences 2 building, just north of the Anschutz Medical Campus, to see biotech in action.

CRSF program manager, Jill Penafiel

“The biosciences buildings are incubators for startups, many of which are built around technologies that investigators discovered or developed here at CU. Because of my experience working in Tech Transfer with CU Innovations, I had an appreciation for how ideas become companies, and how innovations within companies get brought into public use,” says Education Manager, Jill Penafiel, who pioneered the Explore Biotech Fieldtrip in 2011.

The first stop was the CU Center for Surgical Innovation, where students observed third-year neurosurgery residents exploring new surgical techniques while operating on cadaver heads. In fact, one of the residents operating that day was a past participant of the CRSF program in 2012.

“It was really neat to see Dr. Timothy Ung in the surgical center!” Penafiel says. “Here was someone who was in the program many years ago as an undergraduate, now showing our current students one of the career paths open to them.”

Next, the group visited the Gates Biomanufacturing Facility where students learned about the manufacturing of cell lines, cell-based therapeutics, and biologic proteins used in basic science and clinical trials.

“Each area that we went today was amazing. It is great to see other facets of science/health care and to be reminded why I am excited for the future of medicine,” wrote one student about the experience. Another commented, “I earned a great deal, and it was definitely motivating to see so many cool applications of science.”

Then it was on to Touch of Life Technologies (ToLTech), the startup built around the innovative project by Vic Spitzer, PhD, to “thin slice” a human body to build a high-resolution digital representation of human anatomy.

CRSF student takes a virtual tour of the visible human

“Students had the chance to experiment with two virtual reality setups of the visible human – they could remove and look at body parts within this virtual human standing directly in front of them,” Penafiel says. “I put on the VR mask, I walked into the back of the head of the person, and I could see the muscles holding the eyeballs in place. I also looked down through the body and saw the pelvic bones and interior structure. It was incredible!”

On a survey following the fieldtrip, 70 percent of students said they would consider a career in biotech. 100 percent of students asked that the field trip continue to be offered as part of the Summer Fellowship Program in future years. In fact, due to the success of this outreach, Penafiel plans to expand students’ opportunities to interact with area biotech, offering half-day, hands-on experiences as part of the summer 2020 program.

“My hope for an experience like this is to offer the possibility of additional careers for our students that are not only going into medical school. There is so much that can be done!” Penafiel says. “It definitely opened their eyes to the opportunities within biotech.”

Author Cancer Center | Publish Date August 15, 2019
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Research    Education    Cancer

Inspiring the Next Cancer Scientists

Inspiring the next generation of cancer scientists is the idea behind the University of Colorado Cancer Center’s annual  “Learn About Cancer Day.”  One hundred twenty students from five high schools in the Denver metro area participated.

Author Taylor Abarca | Publish Date February 27, 2019
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Education    Faculty

Innovative Cancer Immunology Researcher Joins CU Cancer Center

The University of Colorado Cancer Center is always looking for unique approaches to advance cancer science and advanced ways to strengthen our programs. A powerhouse in the field of immunology is now part of the CU Cancer Center leadership team. Eduardo Davila, PhD, co-leader of the Tumor Host Interaction program, will lead our efforts to understand the role of the immune system in the development and progression of cancer.

“This is an exciting time for the University of Colorado,” says Davila. “The camaraderie and the support from colleagues, both clinicians and basic researcher scientists, is just simply incredible.” The University of Colorado School of Medicine conducted a nationwide search for a scientist with expertise in cancer immunology and immunotherapy. “I find the immune system to be incredibly complex, but incredibly effective at keeping our bodies safe – safe from cancer, safe from infections and safe from autoimmunity,” says Davila.

Author Cancer Center | Publish Date September 04, 2018
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CU Cancer Center In the News


Leveraging RPM to Enable At-Home Care for High-Risk Cancer Patients

news outletMHealthIntelligence
Publish DateFebruary 05, 2024

Glen Peterson, DNP, ACNP, RN, from CU Cancer Center, discusses RPM & telehealth benefits for cancer patients on Healthcare Strategies podcast.

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Sunday is World Cancer Day

news outlet9News
Publish DateFebruary 04, 2024

CU Anschutz oncologist and CU Cancer Center member Dr. Wells Messersmith shares insights: Colorado braces for over 29,000 cancer cases in the coming year.

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Cure Today

An Oncologist Explains How She Uses ctDNA in Gastric Cancer

news outletCure Today
Publish DateJanuary 24, 2024

CU Cancer Center member Sunnie Kim, MD, discussed how she uses ctDNA in treating patients with gastric or esophageal cancer.

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DocWire News

Toxicities and Duration of Treatment for Immunotherapy in Advanced Metastatic Hepatocellular Carcinoma

news outletDocWire News
Publish DateJanuary 23, 2024

CU Cancer Center member Christopher Lieu, MD, and Namrata Vijayvergia, MD, of the Fox Chase Cancer Center conclude their discussion with considerations for managing immunotherapy-related toxicities in patients with metastatic hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), along with a review of the available evidence regarding the duration of immunotherapy treatment.

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