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Temple University School of Medicine and Fox Chase Cancer Center Host First Biomedical Research Day

Event will showcase studies ranging from autoimmune disease and stem cells to diabetes and cancer

PHILADELPHIA (September 20, 2012)—Temple University School of Medicine and Fox Chase Cancer Center will hold the first Temple Biomedical Research Day on Friday, September 21, 2012 to showcase research and programs at both institutions. A cadre of Temple and Fox Chase researchers will receive awards and give presentations, while more than 150 postdoctoral researchers and graduate students will fill a building lobby with poster displays of their research.

The program will be held from 8:50 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Luo Auditorium of the Medical Education and Research Building, 3500 N. Broad Street. During the day-long program, three investigators are being honored with senior research excellence awards, and three will receive early investigator award honors. Three postdoctoral researchers and graduate students each will receive awards for their posters, including a stipend for travel to a professional meeting.

The topics of the talks range from stem cell biology to autoimmune diseases and transplantation to new and powerful ways to predict protein structures and their uses in medicine.

German-born clinical endocrinologist Guenther Boden, MD, 77, who has been at Temple for more than 40 years, will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. In a series of publications in the early 1990s, Dr. Boden, Laura Carnell Professor of Medicine, and former Chief of the Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism and former director of the General Clinical Research Center, showed definitive proof of the link between fatty acids, insulin resistance, diabetes and heart disease. Dr. Boden’s talk is titled, “Why does obesity lead to insulin resistance, inflammation and cardiovascular disease? A few thoughts.”

“There are incredible strengths in resources at centers and laboratories in Temple’s school of medicine and the campuses at the university and at Fox Chase, but in some ways these are well kept secrets,” said Arthur Feldman, MD, PhD, Executive Dean of Temple University School of Medicine and Chief Academic Officer of Temple University Health System. “While we need to let the world at large know what we are doing, we also need to inform ourselves. This day is an opportunity for everyone in these communities to learn what kinds of research activities are going on in both places.

“It’s no secret that medical research is no longer an individual sport, and to be successful, scientists have to work in interdisciplinary teams,” he said. “One of the key goals of this conference is to have people see posters and hear talks and think about how research or a technology can be applied to questions they themselves are asking, and by collaborating, could make their own work more successful. We want this meeting to serve as a platform to facilitate the development of new collaborations.”

Donald Gill, PhD, Professor and Chair of Biochemistry at Temple University School of Medicine, agreed. “The key is interaction – that’s exactly what is needed in a medical school, especially in the current federal funding climate, but particularly now that Fox Chase is part of Temple,” said Dr. Gill, who organized the event. “We have to get to know each other. Fox Chase has some remarkably good basic and clinical scientists, and together with those in the Temple School of Medicine, we have some unique and fascinating new translational research directions to pursue. This event is fostering this pioneering collaboration.”

“Biomedical Research Day is a day to celebrate science at all levels,” said J. Robert Beck, MD, Senior Vice President and Chief Academic and Chief Medical Officer at Fox Chase Cancer Center. Dr. Beck, who also was part of the event’s planning committee, echoed Dr. Feldman’s point about building collaborations. He also sees the day as representative of the growing potential – and opportunities – in the Temple-Fox Chase relationship. Both parties bring different strengths to the table, which often complement one another, and new efforts are underway to spur new collaborations.

“It’s not about the disease anymore. All science is becoming mechanisms and pathways,” he said. “The sorts of problems studied in cancer today will be studied in cardiology and endocrinology and other fields, including bioengineering. It makes sense for collaborations to cross disciplinary boundaries. These collaborations will continue to be important for both institutions’ research efforts moving forward.”

The research to be discussed will be far-ranging.

For example, Roland Dunbrack, PhD, Professor in the Developmental Therapeutics Program at Fox Chase and a recipient of a Senior Research Excellence Award, will explain how his computational structural biology group at Fox Chase can predict what proteins will look like, and possibly even how they behave. Such predictions can have important implications in biology and medicine. Biochemist Jonathan Soboloff, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at Temple University School of Medicine and a winner of an Early Research Investigator Award, will describe his team’s studies on calcium signaling, which plays important roles in a number of processes, such as making the heart contract, nerve signal transmission, and cancer formation. He’ll discuss research on calcium signaling and immune cell activation.  

Stefania Gallucci, MD, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the Temple University School of Medicine, and another young investigator award winner, studies details of the immune system’s dendritic cells, which help direct the body’s immune response. According to Dr. Gallucci, dendritic cells sense the right time to have an immune response and regulate lymphocytes, workhorse cells of the immune system. Her group studies the basic biology of dendritic cells -- how they work and what activates them -- and their role in autoimmune diseases and transplantation.

“People can now see how we are building our research programs,” said Dr. Gill. “Temple is forging ahead, despite the poor federal funding environment, with bold new research initiatives. There’s a new excitement here.”

About Temple Health

Temple Health refers to the health, education and research activities carried out by the affiliates of Temple University Health System and by Temple University School of Medicine.

Temple University Health System (TUHS) is a $1.4 billion academic health system dedicated to providing access to quality patient care and supporting excellence in medical education and research.   The Health System consists of Temple University Hospital (TUH), ranked among the “Best Hospitals” in the region by U.S. News & World Report; TUH-Episcopal Campus; TUH-Northeastern Campus; Fox Chase Cancer Center, an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center;  Jeanes Hospital, a community-based hospital offering medical, surgical and emergency services; Temple Transport Team, a ground and air-ambulance company; and Temple Physicians, Inc., a network of community-based specialty and primary-care physician practices.  TUHS is affiliated with Temple University School of Medicine.

Temple University School of Medicine (TUSM), established in 1901, is one of the nation’s leading medical schools.  Each year, the School of Medicine educates approximately 720 medical students and 140 graduate students. Based on its level of funding from the National Institutes of Health, Temple University School of Medicine is the second-highest ranked medical school in Philadelphia and the third-highest in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  According to U.S. News & World Report, TUSM is among the top 10 most applied-to medical schools in the nation.  

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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