New Discoveries eNewsletter: Jul.-Sep. 2009

Fall 2009


Science Update: July-September 2009

Please join us in congratulating Elaine V. Fuchs, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ‘77-‘79 and Board Member), of The Rockefeller University, New York, on being named a recipient of the National Medal of Science, the nation’s highest scientific honor.   Awarded annually, the Medal recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to science and engineering.   Dr. Fuchs is being honored “for her pioneering use of cell biology and molecular genetics in mice to understand the basis of inherited diseases in humans and her outstanding contributions to our understanding of the biology of skin and its disorders, including her notable investigations of adult skin stem cells, cancers and genetic syndromes.”   Dr. Fuchs, along with eight other laureates, will be honored during a White House ceremony with President Obama on October 7.

Please see below for the latest update on exciting news and findings from your fellow Damon Runyon scientists – current and former.   These are just the publications and awards that we are aware of, so we apologize if we have not included your work.   Lay summaries of some of this work are posted on the News page of our website, along with additional news about our Scientific Committee Members.

Thanks again to those of you who have sent us updates on your recent progress.  It is always a pleasure to learn about the continuing success of our current scientists and alumni and to share your findings with the entire Damon Runyon community.  Please continue to stay in touch.

Best regards,


Yung S. Lie, PhD
Scientific Director
Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation
One Exchange Plaza
55 Broadway, Suite 302
New York, NY  10006
212.455.0529 FAX




Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator Award featured in Science Careers article, “Dealing with Debt”.



Upcoming Events

> October 4-7, 2009
Damon Runyon Annual Fellows’ Retreat, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

-Keynote Speaker Joan S. Brugge, PhD, Chair, Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School
-Distinguished Alumni Speaker Pardis C. Sabeti, MD, PhD, FAS Center for Systems Biology, Assistant Professor, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
» See more

> November 15, 2009
Damon Runyon 5K at Yankee Stadium
, Bronx, New York
Join us at Yankee Stadium for the inaugural Runyon 5K Run/Walk and Kids Fun Run.  This unique cancer research fundraising event will be the first of its kind held at the Stadium.  Help us strike out cancer and register today!



Awards and Honors

> National Medal of Science
Elaine V. Fuchs, PhD
(Damon Runyon Board Member, Damon Runyon Fellow ‘77-‘79), The Rockefeller University, New York

> 2009 NIH High-Risk Research Awards
Benjamin F. Cravatt, PhD
(Fellowship Award Committee Member), The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla
Linda G. Griffith, PhD (Innovation Award Committee Member), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
Muneesh Tewari, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator ‘09-‘11, Damon Runyon Fellow ‘01), Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle
Mark J. Zylka, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ‘00-‘03), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Markus W. Covert, PhD
(Damon Runyon Fellow ‘04-‘06), Stanford University, Stanford

Alla Grishok, PhD
(Damon Runyon Fellow ‘02-‘05), Columbia University, New York
John L. Rinn, PhD
(Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator ‘09-‘11, Damon Runyon Fellow ‘05-‘07), Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Boston
Pardis C. Sabeti, MD, PhD
(Damon Runyon Fellow ‘04-‘06), Harvard University, Cambridge
Wenying Shou, PhD
(Damon Runyon Fellow ‘02-‘05), Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle

The intent of these awards is to encourage investigators to explore bold ideas that have the potential to catapult fields forward and speed the translation of research into improved health.




Diego Alvarado, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ‘05-‘08) and Mark A. Lemmon, PhD (Damon Runyon Scholar ‘97-‘98, Damon Runyon Fellow ‘93-‘96), University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
ErbB2 resembles an autoinhibited invertebrate epidermal growth factor receptor. Alvarado D, Klein DE, Lemmon MA. Nature. 2009 Aug 30.

Ronald J. Buckanovich, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator ‘08-‘11), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Endothelin B receptor, a new target in cancer immune therapy. Kandalaft LE, Facciabene A, Buckanovich RJ, Coukos G. Clin Cancer Res. 2009 Jul 15;15(14):4521-8.
Identifying alemtuzumab as an anti-myeloid cell antiangiogenic therapy for the treatment of ovarian cancer. Pulaski HL, Spahlinger G, Silva IA, McLean K, Kueck AS, Reynolds RK, Coukos G, Conejo-Garcia JR, Buckanovich RJ. J Transl Med. 2009 Jun 19;7:49.

Maya Capelson, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ‘07-‘10), Salk Institute, La Jolla
The role of nuclear pores in gene regulation, development and disease. Capelson M, Hetzer MW. EMBO Rep. 2009 Jul;10(7):697-705.

Kate S. Carroll, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ‘03-‘06), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Mining the thiol proteome for sulfenic acid modifications reveals new targets for oxidation in cells. Leonard SE, Reddie KG, Carroll KS. ACS Chem Biol. 2009 Aug 1.

Andrew T. Chan, MD, MPH (Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator ‘08-‘11), Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
Aspirin use and survival after diagnosis of colorectal cancer.  Chan AT, Ogino S, Fuchs CS.  JAMA. 2009 Aug 12;302(6):649-58.

Howard Y. Chang, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon Scholar ‘06-‘08, Fellowship Sponsor ‘05-‘07), Stanford University, Stanford
Identification, molecular characterization, clinical prognosis, and therapeutic targeting of human bladder tumor-initiating cells. Chan KS, Espinosa I, Chao M, Wong D, Ailles L, Diehn M, Gill H, Presti J Jr, Chang HY, van de Rijn M, Shortliffe L, Weissman IL. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Aug 18;106(33):14016-21.

L. Stirling Churchman, PhD (Merck Fellow ‘08-‘11), University of California, San Francisco
Rapid creation and quantitative monitoring of high coverage shRNA libraries. Bassik MC, Lebbink RJ, Churchman LS, Ingolia NT, Patena W, Leproust EM, Schuldiner M, Weissman JS, McManus MT. Nat Methods. 2009 May 17.

Rachael A. Clark, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator ‘08-‘11), Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston
Imiquimod enhances IFN-gamma production and effector function of T cells infiltrating human squamous cell carcinomas of the skin. Huang SJ, Hijnen D, Murphy GF, Kupper TS, Calarese AW, Mollet IG, Schanbacher CF, Miller DM, Schmults CD, Clark RA. J Invest Dermatol. 2009 Jun 11.

Ondine B. Cleaver, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ‘99-‘02), University of Texas Southwestern, Dallas
Xie J, Wu T, Xu K, Huang IK, Cleaver O, Huang C-l: Endothelial-specific expression of WNK1 kinase Is essential for angiogenesis and heart development in mice. Am J Pathol 2009, 175: 1315-1327.

Neal G. Copeland, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ‘77-‘79), Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Singapore; Luis F. Parada, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ‘85-‘86, former Fellowship Advisory Committee Member), University of Texas Southwestern, Dallas
Response and resistance to MEK inhibition in leukaemias initiated by hyperactive Ras. Lauchle JO, Kim D, Le DT, Akagi K, Crone M, Krisman K, Warner K, Bonifas JM, Li Q, Coakley KM, Diaz-Flores E, Gorman M, Przybranowski S, Tran M, Kogan SC, Roose JP, Copeland NG, Jenkins NA, Parada L, Wolff L, Sebolt-Leopold J, Shannon K. Nature. 2009 Sep 2.

Erik W. Debler, PhD (Dale F. and Betty Ann Frey Fellow ‘08-‘11), The Rockefeller University, New York
Structural and functional analysis of Nup120 suggests ring formation of the Nup84 complex. Seo HS, Ma Y, Debler EW, Wacker D, Kutik S, Blobel G, Hoelz A. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Aug 25;106(34):14281-6.

Charles G. Drake, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon-Lilly Clinical Investigator ‘04-‘09), The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore
Eos mediates Foxp3-dependent gene silencing in CD4+ regulatory T cells. Pan F, Yu H, Dang EV, Barbi J, Pan X, Grosso JF, Jinasena D, Sharma SM, McCadden EM, Getnet D, Drake CG, Liu JO, Ostrowski MC, Pardoll DM. Science. 2009 Aug 28;325(5944):1142-6.

Sunny D. Gilbert, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ‘08-‘11), Oregon State University, Corvallis;
Taiowa A. Montgomery, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ‘09-‘12), Harvard University, Boston
Computational and analytical framework for small RNA profiling by high-throughput sequencing. Fahlgren N, Sullivan CM, Kasschau KD, Chapman EJ, Cumbie JS, Montgomery TA, Gilbert SD, Dasenko M, Backman TW, Givan SA, Carrington JC. RNA. 2009 May;15(5):992-1002.

Mary G. Goll, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ‘07-‘09), Carnegie Institution for Science, Baltimore
Transcriptional silencing and reactivation in transgenic zebrafish. Goll MG, Anderson R, Stainier DY, Spradling AC, Halpern ME. Genetics. 2009 Jul;182(3):747-55.

Michael D. Gordon, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ‘07-‘10), University of California, Berkeley
Motor control in a Drosophila taste circuit. Gordon MD, Scott K. Neuron. 2009 Feb 12;61(3):373-84.

Douglas K. Graham, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon-Novartis Clinical Investigator ‘07-‘10), University of Colorado Denver, Aurora
Mer receptor tyrosine kinase is a novel therapeutic target in pediatric B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Linger RM, Deryckere D, Brandao L, Sawczyn KK, Jacobsen KM, Liang X, Keating AK, Graham DK. Blood. 2009 Jul 30.

Gregory J. Hannon, PhD (Innovation Award Committee Member, Damon Runyon Fellow ‘92-‘94), Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor
Proteomic analysis of murine Piwi proteins reveals a role for arginine methylation in specifying interaction with Tudor family members. Vagin VV, Wohlschlegel J, Qu J, Jonsson Z, Huang X, Chuma S, Girard A, Sachidanandam R, Hannon GJ, Aravin AA. Genes Dev. 2009 Aug 1;23(15):1749-62.
The estrogen receptor-{alpha}-induced microRNA signature regulates itself and its transcriptional response. Castellano L, Giamas G, Jacob J, Coombes RC, Lucchesi W, Thiruchelvam P, Barton G, Jiao LR, Wait R, Waxman J, Hannon GJ, Stebbing J. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Aug 24.

Christopher A. Johnston, PharmD, PhD (Dennis and Marsha Dammerman Fellow ‘08-‘11), University of Oregon, Eugene
Identification of an Aurora-A/PinsLINKER/Dlg spindle orientation pathway using induced cell polarity in S2 cells. Johnston CA, Hirono K, Prehoda KE, Doe CQ. Cell. 2009 Sep 18;138(6):1150-63.

William Y. Kim, MD (Damon Runyon-Merck Clinical Investigator ‘09-‘12), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; John V. Heymach, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon-Lilly Clinical Investigator ‘04-‘09), M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston; William G. Kaelin, Jr., MD (Clinical Investigator Award Committee Member), Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston
HIF2alpha cooperates with RAS to promote lung tumorigenesis in mice. Kim WY, Perera S, Zhou B, Carretero J, Yeh JJ, Heathcote SA, Jackson AL, Nikolinakos P, Ospina B, Naumov G, Brandstetter KA, Weigman VJ, Zaghlul S, Hayes DN, Padera RF, Heymach JV, Kung AL, Sharpless NE, Kaelin WG Jr, Wong KK. J Clin Invest. 2009 Aug;119(8):2160-70.

Brian Kuhlman, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ‘99-‘02), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
A genetically encoded photoactivatable Rac controls the motility of living cells. Wu YI, Frey D, Lungu OI, Jaehrig A, Schlichting I, Kuhlman B, Hahn KM. Nature. 2009 Sep 3;461(7260):104-8.
László Kürti, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ‘07-‘10), Harvard University, Cambridge
Discovery of potent and practical antiangiogenic agents inspired by cortistatin A. Czakó B, Kürti L, Mammoto A, Ingber DE, Corey EJ. J Am Chem Soc. 2009 Jul 1;131(25):9014-9.

Johanna Lahdenranta, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ‘06-‘08), Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
A “vascular normalization index” as potential mechanistic biomarker to predict survival after a single dose of cediranib in recurrent glioblastoma patients. Sorensen AG, Batchelor TT, Zhang WT, Chen PJ, Yeo P, Wang M, Jennings D, Wen PY, Lahdenranta J, Ancukiewicz M, di Tomaso E, Duda DG, Jain RK. Cancer Res. 2009 Jul 1;69(13):5296-300.

Edison T. Liu, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ‘83-‘84), National University of Singapore
RCP is a human breast cancer-promoting gene with Ras-activating function. Zhang J, Liu X, Datta A, Govindarajan K, Tam WL, Han J, George J, Wong C, Ramnarayanan K, Phua TY, Leong WY, Chan YS, Palanisamy N, Liu ET, Karuturi KM, Lim B, Miller LD. J Clin Invest. 2009 Jul 20. pii: 37622. doi: 10.1172/JCI37622.

David Q. Matus, PhD (Robert Black Fellow ‘07-‘10), Duke University, Durham
An expression screen for RhoGEF genes involved in C. elegans gonadogenesis. Ziel JW, Matus DQ, Sherwood DR.  Gene Expr Patterns. 2009 Sep;9(6):397-403.

Mohammad Movassaghi, PhD (Dale F. and Betty Ann Frey Scholar ‘04-‘06, Damon Runyon Fellow ‘01-‘03), MIT, Cambridge
Total synthesis of (+)-11,11’-dideoxyverticillin A. Kim J, Ashenhurst JA, Movassaghi M. Science. 2009 Apr 10;324(5924):238-41.

Don X. Nguyen, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ‘05-‘08), Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York
WNT/TCF signaling through LEF1 and HOXB9 mediates lung adenocarcinoma metastasis. Nguyen DX, Chiang AC, Zhang XH, Kim JY, Kris MG, Ladanyi M, Gerald WL, Massagué J.
Cell. 2009 Jul 10;138(1):51-62.

Elaine F. Remmers, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ‘83-‘84), National Institutes of Health, Bethesda
Functional phosphodiesterase 11A mutations may modify the risk of familial and bilateral testicular germ cell tumors. Horvath A, Korde L, Greene MH, Libe R, Osorio P, Faucz FR, Raffin-Sanson ML, Tsang KM, Drori-Herishanu L, Patronas Y, Remmers EF, Nikita ME, Moran J, Greene J, Nesterova M, Merino M, Bertherat J, Stratakis CA. Cancer Res. 2009 Jul 1;69(13):5301-6.

John L. Rinn, PhD (Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator ‘09-‘11, Damon Runyon Fellow ‘05-‘07), Harvard Medical School and the Broad Institute, Boston
Many human large intergenic noncoding RNAs associate with chromatin-modifying complexes and affect gene expression. Khalil AM, Guttman M, Huarte M, Garber M, Raj A, Rivea Morales D, Thomas K, Presser A, Bernstein BE, van Oudenaarden A, Regev A, Lander ES, Rinn JL. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Jul 1.

Theodora S. Ross, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon Scholar ‘01-‘03), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Persistence of leukemia-initiating cells in a conditional knockin model of an imatinib-responsive myeloproliferative disorder. Oravecz-Wilson KI, Philips ST, Yilmaz OH, Ames HM, Li L, Crawford BD, Gauvin AM, Lucas PC, Sitwala K, Downing JR, Morrison SJ, Ross TS. Cancer Cell. 2009 Aug 4;16(2):137-48.

William M. Shih, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ‘01-‘04), Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard University, Boston
Folding DNA into twisted and curved nanoscale shapes. Dietz H, Douglas SM, Shih WM. Science. 2009 Aug 7;325(5941):725-30.

Gail E. Sonenshein, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ‘70-‘72), Boston University, Boston
A loss-of-function polymorphism in the propeptide domain of the LOX gene and breast cancer. Min C, Yu Z, Kirsch KH, Zhao Y, Vora SR, Trackman PC, Spicer DB, Rosenberg L, Palmer JR, Sonenshein GE. Cancer Res. 2009 Aug 15;69(16):6685-93. Epub 2009 Aug 4.
Lysyl oxidase propeptide inhibits prostate cancer cell growth by mechanisms that target FGF-2-cell binding and signaling. Palamakumbura AH, Vora SR, Nugent MA, Kirsch KH, Sonenshein GE, Trackman PC. Oncogene. 2009 Jul 13.

Aaron F. Straight, PhD (Damon Runyon Scholar ‘05-‘07), Stanford University, Stanford
Dissection of CENP-C-directed centromere and kinetochore assembly. Milks KJ, Moree B, Straight AF. Mol Biol Cell. 2009 Jul 29.
Centromere assembly requires the direct recognition of CENP-A nucleosomes by CENP-N. Carroll CW, Silva MC, Godek KM, Jansen LE, Straight AF. Nat Cell Biol. 2009 Jul;11(7):896-902.

Timothy O. Street, PhD (Connie and Bob Lurie Fellow ‘08-‘11), University of California, San Francisco
pH-dependent conformational changes in bacterial Hsp90 reveal a Grp94-like conformation at pH 6 that is highly active in suppression of citrate synthase aggregation. Krukenberg KA, Southworth DR, Street TO, Agard DA. J Mol Biol. 2009 Jul 10;390(2):278-91.

Peter Tontonoz, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon Scholar ‘00), University of California, Los Angeles
Negative regulation of Hedgehog signaling by liver X receptors. Kim WK, Meliton V, Park KW, Hong C, Tontonoz P, Niewiadomski P, Waschek JA, Tetradis S, Parhami F. Mol Endocrinol. 2009 Oct;23(10):1532-43.

Robert H. Vonderheide, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon-Lilly Clinical Investigator ‘00-‘05), University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Collapse of the CD27+ B-cell compartment associated with systemic plasmacytosis in patients with advanced melanoma and other cancers. Carpenter EL, Mick R, Rech AJ, Beatty GL, Colligon TA, Rosenfeld MR, Kaplan DE, Chang KM, Domchek SM, Kanetsky PA, Fecher LA, Flaherty KT, Schuchter LM, Vonderheide RH. Clin Cancer Res. 2009 Jul 1;15(13):4277-87. Epub 2009 Jun 23.
Functional unresponsiveness and replicative senescence of myeloid leukemia antigen-specific CD8+ T cells after allogeneic stem cell transplantation. Beatty GL, Smith JS, Reshef R, Patel KP, Colligon TA, Vance BA, Frey NV, Johnson FB, Porter DL, Vonderheide RH. Clin Cancer Res. 2009 Aug 1;15(15):4944-53.

E. Hootie Warren, MD (Damon Runyon-Lilly Clinical Investigator ‘00-‘05), Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle
Development of tumor-reactive T cells after nonmyeloablative allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant for chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Nishida T, Hudecek M, Kostic A, Bleakley M, Warren EH, Maloney D, Storb R, Riddell SR. Clin Cancer Res. 2009 Jul 15;15(14):4759-68.

» See more new discoveries and honors on our website.



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Message to Alumni from the Development Department

> Alumni Phone-a-thon

We began our first-ever alumni phone-a-thon!  In addition to engaging you in the Foundation’s work, our team is reaching out to learn more about what you are doing and about the role Damon Runyon played in your lives.  You can expect to hear from us this fall.  Thank you for your important work – your success helps us to gain further support.  It is our greatest proof that the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation is making a difference in the battle against cancer.

As we near the end of 2009, we would like to reach 100% participation from all alumni – gifts of all sizes are deeply important to us.  We hope you see the value in giving back to an organization that supported you early in your career.  As you begin to make year-end giving plans, we ask that you support this important work.  Be assured that 100% of your contribution will be spent directly on supporting the best scientists in cancer research.

It’s easy to give – you can donate online or call us toll free at 1.877.7CANCER.

» Click here for lists of all current and former Damon Runyon Awardees.