Research Day 2018

The UFHCC Research Day 2018 took place on Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 5:00 p.m. at the UF Harrell Medical Education Building. 

UFHCC Poster Presentation Winners

The UF Health Cancer Center had an excellent showing of quality poster presentations this year, and prizes were awarded to graduate students and postdoctoral fellows/associates. The following are our winners from the evening.

Postdoctoral Poster Presentation Winners

  • Jianping Li, M.D.  
    Primary Mentor: Jonathan Licht, M.D.
    A Gain of Function Mutation in the NSD2 Histone Methyltransferase Drives Glucocorticoid Resistance of Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
  • Rongqiang Yang, Ph.D.
    Primary Mentor: Lizi Wu, Ph.D.
    Role of INSL4 signaling in sustaining the growth and viability of LKB1-inactivated lung cancer
  • Sajid Khan, Ph.D. 
    Primary Mentor: Daohong Zhou, Ph.D.
    DT2216, a Bci-XL proteolysis targeting chimera, is a safer and more potent antitumor agent than navitoclax

Predoctoral Poster Presentation Winners 

  • Rachel Newsome, B.S. 
    Primary Mentor: Christian Jobin, Ph.D.
    Campylobacter jejuni promotes colorectal tumorigenesis through the action of cytolethal distending toxin
  • Mai Tanaka, B.A. 
    Primary Mentor: Dietmar Siemann, 
    Axl signaling mediates secretion of angiogenic factors and promotes tumor angiogenesis
  • Xiaoxiao Huang, B.S. 
    Primary Mentor: Jonathan Licht, M.D.
    PARP1 PARylates NSD2 and reduces NSD2 histone methyltransferase activity by preventing it from binding to chromatin
  • Rachel Nosacka, B.S. 
    Primary Mentor: Andrew Judge, Ph.D.
    Mouse limb and diaphragm muscles show distinct cachexia profiles in response to human pancreatic tumors 
  • Young-Rock Hong, MPH
    Primary Mentor: Jinhai Huo, Ph.D., M.D., MSPH
    Financial Burden of Cancer Care under the Affordable Care Act: Analysis of MEPS-Experiences with Cancer Survivorship Survey 2011
  • Wei Ni, M.S. 
    Primary Mentor: Lizi Wu, Ph.D.
    Targeting Notch and EGFR signaling in human mucoepidermoid carcinoma

UFHCC Predoctoral Awardees

The UF Health Cancer Center awards up to five graduate students every year with $10,000 to recognize and support outstanding predoctoral candidates who are conducting innovative cancer research. Awardees give a three-minute thesis presentation at the Cancer Center’s annual research day. The following are this year’s awardees:

  • Julie Bray, B.S. 
    Primary Mentor: Thomas Schmittgen, Ph.D.
  • Henrietta Fasanya, B.S. 
    Primary Mentor: Dietmar Siemann, Ph.D. 
  • Janae Kirsch, M.S.
    Primary Mentor: Deidre Pereira, Ph.D.
  • Mengxiong Wang, M.D., MPH
    Primary Mentor: Brian Law, Ph.D.

Keynote Speaker
Lecture Title: “Eradicating Aneuploid Cancers by Engaging Anaphase Catastrophe”


Ethan Dmitrovsky, M.D. American Cancer Society Professor Laboratory Director, Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research President, Leidos Biomedical Research

Ethan Dmitrovsky, M.D., became Laboratory Director of the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research and President of Leidos Biomedical Research in 2017. This National Laboratory combats AIDS, cancer, infectious diseases and emerging health challenges. He oversees this national resource that serves the public’s health. Examples of this include finding ways to target the RAS oncogene (an unmet medical need) and producing vaccines and leading clinical trials to combat Ebola, Zika and other deadly diseases. He previously served as provost and executive vice president as well as the Olga Keith and Harry Carothers Weiss Distinguished University Chair and American Cancer Society Professor at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Before joining MD Anderson, he chaired the Pharmacology and Toxicology Department and was Interim Dean at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. He also served as chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors for Clinical Sciences and Epidemiology for the National Cancer Institute.

At MD Anderson, Dr. Dmitrovsky oversaw robust undergraduate and graduate programs and more than 4,000 clinical trials. He also served as Principal Investigator of their National Institutes of Health-funded Cancer Center Core Grant, MD Anderson’s largest federal grant. In addition, Dr. Dmitrovsky fostered collaborations with 33 sister institutions in 23 countries, including the launching of a pain medicine initiative for cancer patients in Ethiopia, a country of 90 million with few pain specialists. He created a Provost Protégé Program for faculty members of diverse backgrounds, broadened the reach of the Women Faculty Office to add Minority Faculty Inclusion to its mission, and implemented innovative programs to support the training and scholarship of faculty, research nurses, students and fellows. His team also implemented in 100,000 computers a tobacco prevention and cessation program for the Houston Independent school system that will reduce the burden of cancer, lung and heart diseases in at-risk students and staff. His trailblazing translational research established successful all-trans-retinoic acid differentiation therapy for acute promyelocytic leukemia that became FDA approved. His laboratory developed and patented the genetic test widely used to diagnose this leukemia and monitor treatment response. He recently uncovered a way to eradicate aneuploid cancers, a hallmark of cancer. This opened a novel area of cancer pharmacology. For these discoveries, he received an American Cancer Society Professorship and the 2016 American Society of Clinical Oncology and American Cancer Society Award.

Dr. Dmitrovsky graduated magna cum laude in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard University and received his medical degree from Cornell University. He completed his residency in internal medicine at New York Hospital-Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and oncology fellowship at the National Cancer Institute. He is a physician-scientist and oncologist who directs a laboratory focused on molecular pharmacology and has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health throughout his career. Dr. Dmitrovsky is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI), the Association of American Physicians (AAP) and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).


Research Day Judges

Thanks to our judges!

Dorina Avram, Ph.D​.

Jorg Bungert, Ph.D.​

Carma Bylund, Ph.D​.

Kristianna Fredenburg, M.D., Ph.D.​

Raad Gharaibeh, Ph.D​.

Maria Guijarro Barrigon, Ph.D.​

Yi Guo, PhD​

Jeffrey Harrison, Ph.D.​

StephenHuo, Ph.D., M.D.,MsPH​

Alexander Ishov, Ph.D​.

Margaret O. James, Ph.D.​

Lingtao Jin, Ph.D​.

Versie Johnson-Mallard, Ph.D., ARNP​

Andrew Judge, Ph.D.

Debra Kelly, Ph.D., R.N., OCN​

Brian Law, Ph.D​.

Daiqing Liao, Ph.D.​

Jianrong Lu, Ph.D​.

Volker Mai, Ph.D., MPH​

Nasreen Najmunnisa, Ph.D.​

Deidre Pereira, Ph.D.​

Ramzi Salloum, Ph.D.​

Catherine Striley, Ph.D.​

Ryan Thomas, M.D.​

Zsolt Toth, Ph.D.​

Chengguo (Chris) Xing, Ph.D.​

Lizi Wu, Ph.D.​

Maria Zajac-Kaye, Ph.D.