Posts tagged ‘research’

From One Cancer to Another

By Katherine Brind’Amour

Man with beard looks through microscope. He wears a white lab coat with Penn State Hershey College of Medicine logo. In the background are test tubes and lab equipment.

David DeGraff examines tumor samples of bladder cancer.

In all of the ways you might think of fighting cancer, perhaps one of the last things on your mind would be to turn one type of cancer into another. After all, who wants to turn a tumor into…a different kind of tumor?

David DeGraff does.

As a 2018 recipient of the American Cancer Society’s Research Scholar Grant for nearly $800,000 over the next four years, DeGraff has big plans for his latest funding. Hear him discuss his findings in this video:

“If we understand what makes a given type of tumor tick, we may be able to force it to become another type of tumor—something that responds to therapy,” says DeGraff, assistant professor of pathology and surgery and a member of Penn State Cancer Institute.


February 21, 2018 at 11:23 am Leave a comment

Gowda receives 2017 Young Investigator Award


Dr. Chadrika Gowda with her mentor, Dr. Sinisa Dovat.

It’s been fewer than four years since Dr. Chandrika Gowda completed her fellowship with Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State Children’s Hospital, but she already has been recognized as one of the nation’s top young medical researchers.

Now an assistant professor of pediatrics at the College of Medicine, Dr. Gowda is a recipient of the prestigious 2017 Young Investigator Award from The American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology (ASPHO), an annual award that recognizes excellence in research in the field. (more…)

April 12, 2017 at 10:14 am Leave a comment

Penn State Colorectal Diseases Biobank links genetics and colorectal cancer

 By Heidi Lynn Russell

What if your family’s DNA could become the blueprint for your very own precise and personalized treatment for colorectal cancer? Or, better yet, what if it could be used to help doctors screen you earlier for the disease, before it has a chance to strike?

This isn’t a science-fictional, futuristic ideal. Cutting-edge research at Penn State College of Medicine and the Penn State Colorectal Diseases Biobank is revealing how genetics play a role in treating this disease. (more…)

March 15, 2017 at 11:13 am Leave a comment

Zebrafish help researchers study human genes


New Zebrafish Functional Genomics Core provides Penn State scientists tools to advance research

While a popular fixture of home aquariums, zebrafish have become a popular and important tool for studying human disease. The fish have more in common with humans than meets the eye, and provide an effective and efficient way to study genes.

Perhaps nowhere in central Pennsylvania is that more apparent than at Penn State College of Medicine’s newly-constructed Zebrafish Functional Genomics Core.

The core provides the Penn State research community with a modern, centralized facility for housing, breeding and performing experiments with zebrafish, one of the fastest growing model systems in biomedical research. (more…)

July 27, 2016 at 3:32 pm Leave a comment

Penn State collaboration to bring malaria power bar to children in need

There’s an awful calculus that takes place in malaria stricken regions of the world.

Due to malnutrition, children in these areas often suffer from iron deficiency anemia, which can lead to serious cognitive and motor impairments. While iron supplementation may sound like an obvious solution, there’s been a big problem with it.

Studies in mice and humans suggest that iron promotes malarial infection, likely by increasing the number of red blood cells—the target for the Plasmodium parasites that cause the disease.

More blood cells mean more infection, which means more inflammation. When the disease spreads to the brain in cerebral malaria, this inflammation causes neurological and cognitive damage in survivors.

This conundrum has left health experts at odds with each other about whether children in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions of the world where malaria is prevalent should get iron supplementation. More than 70 percent of malaria deaths occur in children under age 5. This year alone, according to the World Health Organization, the disease has killed more than 300,000 African children in this age group.


March 16, 2016 at 3:18 pm Leave a comment

New technology center builds on promises of College groundbreaking 50 years ago

Penn State Hershey groundbreaking

Eric Walker, president of The Pennsylvania State University; Sam Hinkle, Hershey Trust Company; Captain R.W. Roland, Penn State Board of Trustees president; and Arthur Whiteman, Hershey Trust Company, break snow-covered ground to signal the start of the construction of the Penn State Hershey campus on Feb. 26, 1966.

We’re all walking around with at least six billion pieces of information in our personal genome that, as the field of personalized medicine grows, can provide valuable clues to future health. When paired with clinical data from the electronic medical record (EMR), physicians will be able to provide individualized, precision medical care. The potential implications for improved health and efficiency of health care delivery are huge. So too are the technology needs to support that future.

In the not too distant future, every patient seen by providers at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Center will be offered genome analysis, something the organization’s founders could have never conceived of 50 years ago when the first shovel was plunged into the farm fields on Feb. 26, 1966, of what would become Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine. The groundbreaking was a short three years after a $50 million gift offer from the M.S. Hershey Foundation to Penn State to establish a medical school and teaching hospital in Hershey.

“This is the most exciting time to be in medicine in terms of research capabilities and outcome for patients,” said Dr. James Broach, director of Penn State Hershey Institute for Personalized Medicine. “The first genome sequence was generated in 2003 and that took 10 years and $3 billion. Now, in one day for about $1,000, we can do the same thing.”


February 26, 2016 at 10:24 am 1 comment

‘Four Diamonds is absolutely instrumental for testing novel ideas’


Four Diamonds support brings new pediatric cancer researchers to Penn State College of Medicine

Editor’s Note: Penn State’s THON Weekend is Feb. 19-21. Students will dance for 46-hours to support pediatric cancer patients. To date, $127 million has been raised and donated to Four Diamonds, a foundation that supports the families of pediatric patients at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, and the cancer research done here. For more information on THON, or to watch the activities live, visit For more information on Four Diamonds, visit

Their journeys started halfway around the world, but their shared passion for uncovering the causes of pediatric cancer brought them to Penn State College of Medicine. Dr. Wei Li is originally from Peking, China, and Dr. Vladimir Spiegelman is originally from Moscow. Now both are in Hershey, through funding from Four Diamonds, working to understand how pediatric cancers develop in the hopes of discovering new lifesaving therapies.

Dr. Li, assistant professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, came from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Dr. Spiegelman, Pan Hellenic Dance Marathon Endowed Chair in Pediatric Oncology and professor in the Department of Pediatrics, was most recently at University of Wisconsin.


February 16, 2016 at 3:23 pm Leave a comment

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