Collaborating to prevent cancer

Research discoveries rarely happen in a vacuum. That’s why cancer researchers at the U are continually learning about the latest breakthroughs in their fields—both from each other and from scientists across the nation.

Minnesota Masonic Charities helps bring these high-powered collaborations to life by supporting the Masonic Cancer Center’s Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Program, led by Lisa Peterson, Ph.D., and Frank Ondrey, M.D., Ph.D.

Lisa PetersonThe program aims to prevent cancer by identifying biomarkers for tobacco-related cancer risk and examining how chemicals in our environment and diet contribute to the disease. “The ultimate goal is to translate these findings into clinical trials that change public policy and health care,” says Peterson.

Recently, Masonic support enabled the Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Program to hold a key practice session where numerous researchers prepared to showcase their work at national conferences. These individuals went on to give exemplary, and in several cases award-winning, presentations, which have led to new collaborations with scientists across the U.S.

Masonic support also funded presentations by visiting lecturer Jiri Zavadil, Ph.D., from the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Zavadil shared key findings from his research on the genome and carcinogens. As a result of these visits, U researcher and Masonic Scholar Silvia Balbo is working with Zavadil to explore opportunities for collaborative research on mutational signatures in acrolein, a chemical present in both tobacco smoke and e-cigarette vapors. Collaborations with other program members are also under development.

Frank Ondrey“These funds have supported activities that have brought researchers together to discuss ideas, develop new collaborations, and refine their ability to present their work in the greater scientific community. We would not have been able to provide these opportunities without the support of the Masons.”

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