During a membership event April 29, the Cincinnati Cancer
Center awarded over $200,000 in pilot grants to members and basic scientists
who are collaborating to find out more about various cancers with hopes of
generating more data and additional funding.
Two teams received Mentee-Mentor Partnership
Awards to encourage CCC members, especially young investigators, in cancer research.
Principal investigator KyoungHyun Kim, PhD, member of the Cincinnati
Cancer Center, an assistant professor in the department of environmental health
at the UC College of Medicine and member of the UC Cancer Institute, came to UC
from the Texas A&M Health Science Center in Houston only a year ago, but in
that time he’s already made strides that could help with the treatment of
recurring breast cancer.
Under the mentorship of Shuk-Mei Ho, PhD, director of the CCC and Jacob
G. Schmidlapp Chair of Environmental Health and professor at the UC College of
Medicine, Kim is using the $19,640 CCC pilot grant to study the role of the
gene ZBTB4 and the mechanisms that control this gene for slowing tumor growth
in breast cancer.
"Initial onset of breast cancer is treated with hormone therapy or
chemotherapy, but after a relapse, there aren’t many options for treatment, as
the cancer has mutated and evolved into something we cannot target,” he says.
"The cancer cells become more aggressive and resistant to treatment.
"Prior analysis of around 27,000 genes has shown that when ZBTB4 is
present at high levels in breast cancer patients, outcomes are better without
recurrence; however, we don’t know the mechanism in ZBTB4 which triggers this
reaction, and we don’t know what genes it targets to cause this
"In this study, we want to find which oncogenes are suppressed by ZBTB4
and how we can target this gene to increase its effects and become a treatment
for aggressive cancer.”
Kim says Ho adds her expertise in epigenetics (changes in gene activity
not caused by DNA) and DNA methylation, which blocks or suppresses the
expression of harmful stretches of DNA that have entered the host genetic
"She is an established investigator and leader who can not only help
further my science but also can help to teach me the way to manage and run a
lab,” he says.
mentor needs to see the potential of the mentee and help him or her realize
that potential as well as introducing the mentee to a new network of
collaboration,” says Dr. Ho.
"I’m pleased to be a member of the Cincinnati Cancer Center and to have
this important funding to further my work and to enhance our overall research
environment,” Kim says.
The University of
Cincinnati, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and UC Health have
created the Cincinnati Cancer Center—a joint effort designed to leverage the
strengths of all three organizations in order to provide the best possible
cancer diagnostics, research, treatment, and care for individuals in the
Tristate region and the nation. To learn more, visit cincinnaticancercenter.org.