Summer 2014
Welcome to our new  e-newsletter focused on providing you with up-to-date info on our latest research! 
Plus, we thought you'd like to meet some of our awesome researchers as well. Each edition will feature one research story, and the researchers involved in that research study. We're also providing links to publications within the previous quarter to give you a sense of the interesting, intriguing and life-improving discoveries we are making at the UA Steele Center. Enjoy!

UA Discovery Shows Curcumin Blocks the Metastasis of Colon Cancer 


A team of researchers led by the UA Steele Center discovered that curcumin--the bioactive molecule derived from the spice turmeric--blocks the protein cortactin in colon cancer. Cortactin, a protein essential for cell movement, frequently is overexpressed in cancer, thus facilitating cancer cell metastasis to other organs in the body. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and the third most common cancer in men and women. When cancer metastasizes to other organs, a patient's chances of survival are greatly diminished. Thus, finding novel ways to prevent cancer metastasis remains an urgent need. The National Institutes of Health-funded research  recently was published in PLOS OneThe study was led by co-investigators Fayez K. Ghishan, MD, professor and head, UA Department of Pediatrics and Director of the UA Steele Children's Research Center; Pawel Kiela, DVM, PhD, associate professor, UA Department of Pediatrics; and Vijay Radhakrishnan, PhD, assistant scientist, UA Department of Pediatrics. Read more | Read publication





Fayez K. Ghishan, MD

Professor and Dept. Head

Since 1995, Dr. Ghishan has led the UA Department of Pediatrics and the Steele Children's Research Center. Born in Jordan, Dr. Ghishan attended medical school at Ankara University in Turkey. He obtained house officer training at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in England and then went to Pennsylvania State University to complete his residency in pediatrics. He completed his pediatric gastroenterology fellowship at the University of Iowa. Dr. Ghishan is internationally recognized for his research in pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition. In the course of his career, he has authored more than 400 publications including original articles, editorials, abstracts, book reviews and chapters. He has contributed significantly to the major textbooks in pediatric gastroenterology including: Pediatric Gastrointestinal Disease, Pediatric Nutrition, Nelson's Textbook of Pediatrics, Liver Diseases in Children and Textbook of Clinical Pediatrics. He is an associate editor for the major textbook, Physiology of the Gastrointestinal Tract. His work has been continually funded by the National Institutes of Health for more than 30 years. In 1996 and again in 2008, he received the prestigious MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Health for "Consistent and Excellent Contributions to Scientific Knowledge." In 2004, Dr. Ghishan was the recipient of the Shwachman Award presented for major, life-long scientific and educational contributions to the field of pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology or nutrition in North America. In 2014, he was presented with the Horace W. Davenport Distinguished Lectureship Award by the Gastrointestinal & Liver Section of the American Physiological Society. He is the first pediatric gastroenterologist to receive this award. In his free time, Dr. Ghishan enjoys spending time with his wife Joan, their four children and grandchildren. He and Joan also enjoy a daily 4-mile hike at Sabino Canyon.
Pawel R. Kiela, DVM, PhD
Associate Professor 
Dr. Kiela was born and grew up in Warsaw, Poland. He obtained a degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) in 1994, followed by a PhD in Physiology in 1996. He also obtained additional training at Lund's University in Sweden and at Rakuno Gakuen University in Japan before joining the Section of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition in the Department of Pediatrics in 1997 as a post-doctoral researcher. Dr. Kiela serves as the Director of the Pediatrics Gastroenterology Research Program at the Steele Center and is a faculty mentor in graduate programs in Immunobiology, Physiological Sciences, and Nutritional Sciences. His research interest is in the pathophysiology of gastrointestinal disorders with autoimmune background, such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, epithelial cell biology, and mucosal immunology. He has authored over 55 scientific articles, reviews, and book chapters. In addition to his passion for science and graduate training, Dr. Kiela enjoys spending his free time with his wife, Monica, their two daughters, Martha and Kasia, and their beloved dog Kika. Together, they enjoy camping, visits to national parks, and trips to Europe to visit their families.



Vijay Radhakrishnan, PhD

Assistant Scientist

Dr. Radhakrishnan received his PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Madras, India. While working on his PhD he received various awards including a prestigious fellowship from the government of India. His dissertation work was based on the anti-tumor property of a natural flavonoid compound, quercetin on prostate cancer. In 2006, he came to the University of Arizona Cancer Center as a post-doctoral fellow, where he studied the role of 14-3-3 proteins in lung and colon cancer. After completing his post-doctoral fellowship, he joined the Steele Children's Research Center in 2010 as Assistant Research Scientist, and continues his research in the field of inflammatory bowel diseases and colon cancer. He has acquired the necessary academic training and research experience in multiple disciplines including molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics and physiology during his tenure and has published in several  peer-reviewed journals. His long-term goals are to integrate his knowledge and experience in cancer to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the key developmental pathways involved in cancer, particularly colon cancer. In his free time, Dr. Radhakrishnan enjoys outdoor activities and spending time with his family and friends. 


Stanley Goldberg, MD
Professor Emeritus
Comparison of Carotid Intima-Media Thickness in Pediatric Patients with Metabolic Syndrome, Heterozygous Familial Hyperlipidemia and Normals. Journal of Lipids, Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 546863 
Aim: Common carotid artery intimal - medial thickness (CIMT) is a marker for early atherosclerotic vascular changes. Our goal was to compare CIMTs of pediatric patients with metabolic syndrome (MS), heterozygous familial hyperlipidemia, (heFH), and MS+heFH, against one another and against a control group consisting of healthy, normal body habitus children. Read publication

Michael Seckeler, MD, MSc 

Assistant Professor

Patients with single ventricle anatomy may respond better to octreotide therapy for chylothorax after congenital heart surgery. J Card Surg. 2014 Mar;29(2):259-64

Aim: Chylothorax (CTX) occurs in 3% to 6% of children after surgery for congenital heart disease with significant morbidity and mortality. Octreotide has been proposed as therapy, but there are no predictors of response. The objective of this study was to identify possible predictors of response to octreotide.  Read publication


Ricardo Samson, MD  


Outcomes associated with amiodarone and lidocaine in the treatment of in-hospital pediatric cardiac arrest with pulseless ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation. Resuscitation, March 2014

Aim: To determine the association between amiodarone and lidocaine and outcomes in children with cardiac arrest with pulseless ventricular tachycardia (pVT) and ventricular fibrillation (VF). Background: Current AHA guidelines for CPR and emergency cardiovascular care recommend amiodarone for cardiac arrest in children associated with shock refractory pVT/VF, based on a single pediatric study and extrapolation from adult data. Read publication



Jennifer Andrews, PhD (ABD), MBA 

PhD Candidate

Correlates of care for young men with duchenne and becker muscular dystrophy. Muscle Nerve, 49: 21-25. doi: 10.1002/mus.23865

 Aim: In progressive conditions, such as Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy (DBMD), the need for care may outpace care use. We examined correlates that contribute to utilization of needed care.  Read publication


Margaret Kurzius-Spencer, PhD, MPH, MS
Assistant Professor
Contribution of diet to aggregate arsenic exposures: An analysis across populations. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2014 ; 24(2):156-162. doi:10.1038/jes.2013.37. 
Aim: The relative contribution of dietary arsenic (As) to aggregate daily exposure has not been well characterized, especially in relation to the current EPA maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 10p.p.b. for As in drinking water. Our objectives were to: (1) model exposure to inorganic and total As among non-seafood eaters using subject-specific data, (2) compare the contribution of food, drinking and cooking water to estimated aggregate exposure in households with variable background tap water As levels, and (3) describe the upper distribution of potential dose at different thresholds of tap water As. Read publication


Francis John Meaney, PhD 
Exploring the Feasibility of Using Electronic Health Records in the Surveillance of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Birth Defects Research (Part A) 100:67-78, 2014. 
VC 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Aim: Explore the use of electronic health records (EHRs) in fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) surveillance systems. METHODS: Using EHRs we identified diagnoses and anthropometric measurements related to the FAS criteria developed by the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Surveillance Network (FASSNet) among children aged 0 to 12 years. Read publication



Emmanuel Katsanis, MD 
Doxorubicin Eliminates Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells and Enhances the Efficacy of Adoptive T-Cell Transfer in Breast Cancer. Cancer Res, January 1, 2014 74;104
Aim: Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) expand in tumor-bearing hosts and play a central role in cancer immune evasion by inhibiting adaptive and innate immunity. They therefore represent a major obstacle for successful cancer immunotherapy. Different strategies have thus been explored to deplete and/or inactivate MDSC in vivo. Using a murine mammary cancer model, we demonstrated that doxorubicin selectively eliminates MDSC in the spleen, blood, and tumor beds.  Read publication
Nicolas Larmonier, PhD 
Associate Professor 
The Multifaceted Role of Th17 Lymphocytes and Their Associated Cytokines in Cancer. Clinical and Developmental Immunology, Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 957878T

Aim: While the role of T helper 17 lymphocytes (Th17) in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases and in infectious immunity has been relatively well defined, the impact of these cells and their associated cytokines on cancer development is still under debate. Although multiple reports have indicated that Th17 can promote anticancer immunity, others have argued that these cells may exhibit tumor-promoting properties. This dichotomy in the function of Th17 lymphocytes in cancer may be related to the versatile nature of these cells, being capable of differentiating into either proinflammatory Th1 or suppressive FoxP3-expressing Treg cells or hybrid T cell subsets depending on the underlying environmental conditions. In the current review, we examine the role of Th17 lymphocytes and Th17-associated cytokines in cancer and discuss how factors that control their final lineage commitment decision may influence the balance between their tumor-promoting versus tumor-suppressing properties. Read publication

Yi Zeng, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor

Activated MHC-mismatched T helper-1 lymphocyte infusion enhances GvL with limited GvHD. Bone Marrow Transplantation, 28 April 2014; doi: 10.1038/bmt.2014.91 

Aim: DLI is traditionally used to provide graft-versus-leukemia (GvL) effects when given to patients relapsing post-hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). However, it is often associated with significant GvHD and has only modest efficacy against acute leukemias. Therefore, novel cellular therapies are needed to improve the outcome of high-risk or relapsed leukemia patients following HCT. Activated T helper-1 (aTh-1) lymphocytes are CD4+CD25+CD40L+CD62Llo effector memory cells that produce large amounts of IFN-γ and TNF-α. We demonstrate that post-transplant adoptive aTh-1 cell therapy enhances GvL with limited GvHD in an MHC-mismatched murine BMT model. Read publication



Wayne Morgan, MD  


Clinical outcomes after initial pseudomonas acquisition in cystic fibrosis. Pediatric Pulmonology, March 2014.  Aim: To evaluate clinical outcomes associated with initial isolation of Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Pa) in a large U.S. cystic fibrosis (CF) cohort in the current era of widespread early Pa eradication therapy. Read publication



UA Steele Children's Research Center
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