USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center

An NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center

Community for a Cure

Community for a Cure is the official newsletter for the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center (USC Norris). Our dynamic newsletter keeps you up to date with everything happening at USC Norris. It features scientific discoveries from our exceptional researchers, inspiring patient stories, award recognitions of our faculty and staff, groundbreaking initiatives, new faculty spotlights,  developmental updates, and much more. 

Have something to contribute to Community for a Cure? Send it to Hinde Kast, Communications Coordinator, at Hinde.Kast@med.usc.edu

March/April 2024

Featured Stories

  • The Patient Voice: Defying the Odds: Triumphs in the Face of Cancer
  • 9th Annual Quinn Brady Memorial Swing Against Cancer Golf Tournament
  • Faculty Spotlight: Kali Zhou, MD
  • THANK YOU TO OUR USC NORRIS VOLUNTEERS!

Honors and Recognitions 

  • Dr. Chanita Hughes-Halbert, Associate Director for Cancer Equity at USC Norris, is part of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD) team of Cancer Equity Leaders (CEL).
  • Drs. Casey O’Connell and Inderbir Gill, members of the USC Norris Translational and Clinical Sciences Program, were named Leaders of Influence: Top LA Doctors by the Los Angeles Business Journal.
  • Drs. Peter Kuhn and Andrew MacKay for being named senior members of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).
  • Joi Torrence-Hill, chief of operations at USC Norris Cancer Hospital, part of Keck Medicine of USC, who was selected as a Los Angeles Business Journal Woman of Influence in Healthcare.
  • Dr. Ricky Bluthenthal, member of the USC Norris Cancer Control Research Program, and Dr. Peter Kuhn, member of the USC Norris Translational and Clinical Sciences Program, who were appointed as a Distinguished Professor and a University Professor respectively by the University of Southern California.

New Grants 

  • USC Norris members Drs. Ite Offringa and Nicholas Mancuso received an Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Award (R21) from the National Institutes of Health.
  • Dr. Dechen Lin, member of the USC Norris Epigenetic Regulation in Cancer Program, was awarded a major grant by the National Cancer Institute, to focus on the crosstalk between cancer metabolism and epigenetic regulation and study the primary forces transforming normal oral cells into head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) using advanced organoid technology and mouse models.
  • Dr. Kai Chen, member of the USC Norris Translational and Clinical Sciences program, was recently awarded R01 funding from the National Cancer Institute to spearhead research on advancing cancer cell proliferation PET imaging through droplet radiochemistry technology.

Scientific Advances and Discoveries

  • Large-scale study explores genetic link between colorectal cancer and meat intake
  • USC Norris researchers find genetic variant contributing to disparities in childhood leukemia risk
  • Phase 2 results from the CheckMate 9X8 randomized clinical trial show promising results for new combination therapy in colorectal cancer
  • USC Norris member delves into the origin and future directions of retinoblastomas

January/February 2024

Featured Stories

    • The Patient Voice: Jean Richardson, Dr.PH
    • Faculty Spotlight:Amir Goldkorn, MD,
    • Why Your Gift Matters: Roberto Babinger
    • 2024 California Consortium for Cancer Health Equity Symposium

Honors and Recognitions 

    • Dr. Stacey Finley was promoted to Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Quantitative and Computational Biology at the University of Southern California.
    • Drs. Suhn Rhie and Ugonna Ihenacho, who are the inaugural recipients of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center Cancer Health Equity Scholars Award for their exceptional scholarship and dedication to communities underrepresented in cancer research.
    • Dr. Fumito Ito has been appointed as the new director of the Flow Cytometry and Immune Monitoring (FCIM) Core.
    • Dean’s Awards for Excellence

Scientific Advances and Discoveries

    • USC Norris researcher makes novel discovery that breast to brain metastasis is exacerbated with chemotherapy and induces Alzheimer’s-like pathology
    • Multi-omic profiling reveals discrepant immunogenic properties and a unique tumor microenvironment among melanoma brain metastases
    • Research unveils promising innovative therapeutic strategy for pancreatic cancer
    • New study demonstrates promising novel treatment approach for metastatic breast cancer in phase 1b clinical trial

Community Outreach and Engagement 

    • 5th Annual Cancer in the Community Conference
    • COE/Celebrate Life Ministry Donation Collaboration
    • ZooTopia
    • Cancer Survivorship Advisory Council December Meeting

November/December 2023

Featured Stories

Honors and Recognitions 

    • For the third consecutive year, USC Norris Cancer Hospital has earned the Leapfrog Top Teaching Hospital Award!
    • Dr. Jennifer Tsui has been appointed as the new co-leader for the Cancer Control Research Program at USC Norris.
    • Dr. Heinz-Josef Lenz  was included in the Highly Cited Researchers list from Clarivate for 2023.
    • Dr. Albert Farias has been selected to receive an award in recognition of outstanding teaching in the academic year 2022-23 Health Justice & Systems of Care

New Grants 

    • Dr. Bingfei Yu, member of the Tumor Immunology & Microenvironment Program, was recently awarded $600,000 through the V Scholar Program from the V Foundation to fund her research in targeted anti-tumor therapy by programmable viral particles.
    • Dr. Evanthia Roussos Torres, member of the USC Norris Tumor Immunology & Microenvironment Program, was recently awarded R01 funding from the National Cancer Institute to investigate how targeting myeloid suppression enhances anti-tumor immunity in breast cancer.
    • Drs. Caryn Lerman and Adam Leventhal have received a $20 million grant for research to inform government regulations overseeing tobacco and its marketing, with a focus on protecting young people.

Scientific Advances and Discoveries

    • Novel activity of histone methyltransferase Mixed Lineage Leukemia identified
    • Liver cancer rates increase in each successive generation of Mexican Americans
    • Novel predictive and prognostic biomarkers discovered in a large cooperative clinical trial with a diverse patient population
    • USC Norris member identifies a promising approach to treat kidney cancer by blocking DNA changes and repair mechanisms
    • USC Norris member develops blood test for early-stage ovarian cancer

Community Outreach and Engagement 

      • October Events 
      • Patient Perspective Series Recap

Miscellaneous

    • Tournament of Roses 2024 Royal Court visits USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center
    • Faculty Spotlight: Ite Offringa, PhD,
    • The Patient Voice: Freddie Muse Jr.
    • Why Your Gift Matters: Chet Chelstowski

September/October 2023

Featured Stories

Honors and Recognitions 

    • Dr. Evanthia Roussos Torres has been appointed as the new co-leader for the USC Norris Tumor Immunology & Microenvironment (TIME) Program,
    • Dr. Hossein Jadvar was bestowed the Dr. R.D. Lele Oration during the 21st meeting of the Association of Nuclear Medicine Physicians of India
    • Dr. Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati, Associate Director for Community Outreach and Engagement at USC Norris, is the recipient of the Lester Breslow Lifetime Achievement Award and will be inducted into the 2023 Hall of Fame by the Public Health Alumni Association of UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health.
    • Drs. Josh Neman-Ebrahim, Associate Director for Cancer Research Training and Education at USC Norris, and Caryn Lerman, Director of USC Norris, were selected as the Angel Honorees
    • Dr. Sia Daneshmand has been appointed Organ Site Chair for local bladder within the SWOG Genitourinary Committee
    • Dr. Dieuwertje “DJ” Kast, co-director of the USC Norris Cancer STEM Education Partnership Program, was named a recipient of the 2023 40 Under 40 Public Health Catalyst Awards by the Boston Congress of Public Health.

New Grants 

    • We have received a grant from The Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation (RLCF) to launch a Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Prevention.
    • Drs. Julio Camarero and Heinz-Josef Lenz received a $300,000 grant from the American Cancer Society
    • Under the leadership of Drs. Mariana Stern and Chanita Hughes Halbert, we are excited to announce the renewal of the U54 grant that supports the Florida-California Cancer Research, Education and Engagement Health Equity Center (CaRE2).

Scientific Advances and Discoveries

    • Study focusing on Black cancer survivors documents how exposure to racial discrimination impacts care
    • New study demonstrates combination therapy approach as a promising therapeutic strategy for pancreatic cancer
    • Mutations in 11 genes associated with aggressive prostate cancer identified in new research
    • USC Norris researcher demonstrates the efficacy of novel therapeutic agent in breast cancer metastasis

Community Outreach and Engagement 

      • Community Health Fair
      • 5th Annual Getaway Retreat
      •  

Miscellaneous

      • Faculty Spotlight: Evanthia Roussos Torres, MD, PhD
      • The Patient Voice: Krista Machovina
      • Why Your Gift Matters: Derek Alpert/Concern Foundation

July/August 2023

Featured Stories

U.S. News and World Report Rankings 

Honors and Recognitions 

      • Dr. Yali Dou has been appointed as the new Associate Director for Basic Research at USC Norris, effective July 1, 2023.
      • Dr. Daniel Weisenberger has been appointed as the new Director for the USC Norris Molecular Genomics Core (MGC), effective July 1, 2023.
      • Dr. Gabriel Zada, member of the USC Norris Epigenetic Regulation in Cancer Program and Surgical Director of the USC Brain Tumor Center,  was awarded Physician of the Year
      • Dr. David Cobrinik, member of the USC Norris Epigenetic Regulation in Cancer Program, who was awarded the 2023 Robert M. Ellsworth Lectureship.

New Grants 

      • Dr. Jennifer Tsui, Director for Cancer Care Delivery Research and Implementation Science at USC Norris, was recently awarded a major grant by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities to fund research focused on assessing cervical cancer healthcare inequities in diverse populations.
      • Dr. Evanthia Roussos Torres, member of the USC Norris Tumor Immunology & Microenvironment Program, was awarded R01 funding from the National Cancer Institute to investigate how targeting myeloid suppression enhances anti-tumor immunity in breast cancer.
      • Dr. Adam de Smith, member of the USC Norris Cancer Epidemiology Program, who received a $600,000 grant from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to identify children with the highest risk of developing ALL and lay the groundwork towards newborn screening of preleukemia and potential disease prevention.
      • Dr. Ahmad Besaratinia, member of the USC Norris Cancer Epidemiology Program, was  awarded a grant by the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program to investigate the health consequences of youth vaping by characterizing disease-related molecular changes in the cells and tissues of youth who are regular users of electronic cigarettes.

Scientific Advances and Discoveries

      • Study finds new, unexpected mechanism of cancer cell spread
      • FDA Approval Marks New Era for Preventing Cisplatin-Induced Hearing Loss
      • USC Norris member discovers the potential of aqueous humor as a liquid biopsy for uveal melanoma

Community Outreach and Engagement 

      • CaRE2 Community Scientist Research Advocacy Program
      • The USC Norris Cancer Survivorship Advisory Council (CSAC) celebrates 25th anniversary.

Miscellaneous

      • Faculty Spotlight: Jennifer Tsui, PhD
      • The Patient Voice: Jared Lipscomb
      • Why Your Gift Matters: Gary Herman Sr.

May/June 2023

Featured Stories

Honors and Recognitions 

      • USC Norris members Drs. Jennifer Tsui, Albert Farias, and Juliet Emamaullee received 2023 Mentoring Awards.
      • Dr. Chanita Hughes Halbert, Associate Director for Cancer Equity at USC Norris, recently graduated from the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) program.
      • We are so proud of Dr. David Freyer, member of the USC Norris Cancer Control Research Program, who has been awarded the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Director’s Award under the Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis
      • Dr. Evanthia Roussos Torres, member of the USC Norris Tumor Microenvironment Program, has been awarded the Rising Star Scientific Investigator Award by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
      • Congratulations to Dr. Kai Chen, member of the USC Norris Translational and Clinical Sciences Program, for being selected as the Vice President-Elect for the Radiopharmaceutical Sciences Council of Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI).

New Grants 

      • Dr. Josh Neman, incoming Associate Director for Cancer Research Training and Education Coordination at USC Norris and Scientific Director of the USC Brain Tumor Center, who was awarded a $50,000 grant to help cure pediatric brain tumors.
      • Dr. Julio Camarero, member of the USC Norris Translational and Clinical Sciences Program, was awarded the Melanoma Research Alliance Established Investigator Award to fund his work focused on the therapeutic targeting of Hdm2/HdmX E3 ligase in melanoma.
      • Dr. Jennifer Tsui was awarded a major grant by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities to fund research focused on assessing cervical cancer healthcare inequities in diverse populations.
      • Dr. Chanita Hughes Halbert who was awarded a two-year grant from Merck that will allow researchers at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center to develop and implement multilevel data driven strategies to engage patients and providers and identify

Scientific Advances and Discoveries

      • USC research identifies biomarker that may predict treatment response to chemoimmunotherapy
      • New USC study shows immigrant adults with liver cancer have higher survival rates than those born in the US
      • New study demonstrates the use of Artemis inhibition as a new therapeutic strategy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia
      • USC Norris researchers demonstrated myeloid-derived suppressor cells as a predictor of outcomes in breast to lung-metastasis

Community Outreach and Engagement 

      • May/June Overview

Miscellaneous

      • USC Norris Cancer Research Day – May 11, 2023
      • 33rd Festival of Life
      • Faculty Spotlight: Bodour Salhia, PhD
      • The Patient Voice: Julie Clauer
      • Why Your Gift Matters: Judy Glick

March/April 2023

Featured Stories

Honors and Recognitions 

      • Dr. Josh Neman-Ebrahim appointed as the new Associate Director for Cancer Research Training and Education Coordination (CRTEC) at USC Norris effective July 1, 2023.
      • Dr. Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati has been appointed as a Distinguished Professor of Population and Public Health Sciences
      • Dr. Hossein Jadvar, member of the USC Norris Translational and Clinical Sciences Program and a tenured Professor of Radiology with joint appointments in Urology and Biomedical Engineering, has been appointed to the Board of Directors for the American Board of Nuclear Medicine
      • Joi Torrence-Hill, Chief of USC Norris Hospital Operations, who has been named one of the 2023 149 black healthcare leaders to know by Becker’s Hospital Review.
      • Dr. Heinz-Josef Lenz, Deputy Director for Research Programs at USC Norris, has been selected as one of Los Angeles Business Journal’s Leaders of Influence: L.A.’s Top Doctors of 2023 in the oncology category.

New Grants 

      • USC Norris is collaborating with Auransa Inc. on a phase I clinical trial to evaluate a new kind of treatment for cancers of the liver and solid tumors with liver dominant disease.
      • Dr. Chanita Hughes Halbert, Associate Director for Cancer Equity at USC Norris, who received the prestigious American Cancer Society Professorship Award.
      • Dr. Jesse Berry, member of the USC Norris Genomic and Epigenomic Regulation Program, received a grant from the Children’s Oncology Group

Scientific Advances and Discoveries

      • Surgery proves effective alternative to chemotherapy and radiation for early metastatic testicular cancer
      • Differential trends in rising endometrial cancer incidence by age, race, and ethnicity revealed
      • Drs. Amy Lee and Vicky Yamamoto demonstrated a new approach to combat cisplatin resistance in patients with head and neck cancer
      • Novel connection between lipid metabolism and outcome of chemotherapy treatment identified
      • Leukemic mutation linked to potential disease development

Community Outreach and Engagement 

      • Resource Fair and Classic Car Show

Miscellaneous

      • NCCC Translational Research Conference – From Patients to the Laboratory: Technologies for Cancer Biomarker Discovery
      • Thank You To Our Volunteers!
      • Faculty Spotlight: Gino K. In, MD, MPH
      • The Survivor Art Series, featuring Rhett Murray
      • Why Your Gift Matters: Alan Lamson

January/February 2023

Featured Stories

Honors and Recognitions 

    • Dr. Jennifer Tsui appointed as the inaugural Director for Cancer Care Delivery Research and Implementation Science at USC Norris. 
    • Drs. Wendy Setiawan and David Conti’s paper was selected as one of the papers of the year in 2022 by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. 
    • USC Norris members Drs. Heinz-Josef Lenz and Steve Kay were included in the Highly Cited Researchers list from Clarivate. 
    • Julie Culver awarded the Diane Baker Alumni Lecture and Award in Genetic Counseling
    • Dr. Wendy Setiawan has been appointed to the National Cancer Institute’s Cohort Consortium Steering Committee. 

 New Grants 

    • USC Norris members Drs. James Gauderman and Kimberly Siegmund will co-lead a $10.5 million NCI-funded program project to develop cutting-edge machine learning approaches in cancer research. 
    • Drs. Anthony El-Khoueiry and Chanita Hughes Halbert received a major Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C) grant to eliminate barriers and facilitate access to early phase clinical trials in traditionally underserved communities in Los Angeles County. 

Scientific Advances 

USC Norris member Dr. Gary Ulaner shares data from a prospective clinical trial 

Drs. Fei Chen and Chris Haimann identified genetic variants that increase susceptibility to developing a second primary cancer in breast cancer survivors

Studies shows how liver cancer hijacks circadian clock machinery inside cells

USC Norris members highlight significant advancements made using organoid modeling

Community Outreach and Engagement 

    • 4th Annual Cancer in the Community Virtual Conference 
    • Dr. Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati awarded the Humanitarian of Hope Award by the Celebrate Life Cancer Ministry at its 20th Jubilee recognizing her community work in the fight against cancer 
      • 4th Annual Getaway Retreat
      • Zootoopia

Miscellaneous

    • Faculty Spotlight: Fumito Ito, MD, PhD
    • The Patient Voice: Tim Dreier
    • Why Your Gift Matters: Dean Scalia 

October/November 2022

Featured Stories

Special Video Message: With Gratitude from the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center!

Cancer Disparities Research

    • Dr. Jennifer Tsui received a major grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration
    • Dr. Hughes-Halbert and Joi Torrence-Hill  received the American Cancer Society Navigation Capacity-Building Grant
    • Drs. Myles Cockburn and Ricky Bluthenthal were awarded a supplement to the NCI P30 Cancer Center Support Grant
    • Drs. Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati and Mariana Stern were awarded a supplement to the NCI Moonshot grant
    • Published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Chanita Hughes-Halbert writes a commentary on the social determinants of health and cancer care and how they contribute to disease risk and healthcare outcomes.

Additional New Grants 

    • Under the leadership of Drs. Cockburn and Lerman, USC Norris received a grant from American Cancer Society
    • Dr. Kevin Kelly, member of the USC Norris Translational and Clinical Sciences Program, has been awarded $150,000 by the PHASE ONE Foundation
    • USC Norris members Drs. Julio Camarero and Ite Offringa who were awarded a Lung Cancer Discovery Research Grant

Honors and Recognitions 

    • Dr. Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati served on the steering committee of the most recent 2022 Cancer Progress Report of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)
    • Congratulations to Dr. John Carpten, Associate Director for Basic Science, who has been awarded the Simon M. Shubitz Prize Lecture and Award by the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center Foundation.

Scientific Advances 

    • USC Norris members discover a novel association between smoking and HER2-type young-onset breast cancer
    • Dr. Heinz-Josef Lenz, Deputy Director for Research Programs at USC Norris, publishes on the role of neurotransmitters in colorectal cancer biology and treatment
    • Dr. Amy Lee revealed GRP78 suppresses oncogenic KRAS protein expression and reduces viability of cancer cells bearing various KRAS mutations
    • Dr. W. Martin Kast discovers that selection of a therapeutic vaccine schedule can influence the magnitude, efficacy, and durability of immune responses

Community Outreach and Engagement 

    • Taste of Soul Event
    • USC Norris Adult and Young Adult Cancer Program
      • 4th Annual Getaway Retreat
      • Zootoopia

Miscellaneous

    • Faculty Spotlight: Heinz-Josef Lenz, MD
    • STEAM Career Children’s Book Series
    • The Survivor Art Series: Jasveer Virk
    • Why Your Gift Matters: Rick Freeman

August/September 2022

Featured Stories

Honors and Appointments

    • Dr. Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati, USC Norris Associate Director for Community Outreach and Engagement,  has been selected as the recipient of the Hands of Hope Award from the Lazarex Cancer Foundation.
    • Dr. Hossein Jadvar, member of the USC Norris Translational and Clinical Sciences Program, who was appointed Vice Chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Advisory Committee on Medical Uses of Isotopes (ACMUI)
    • The Vassiliadis Family Foundation has provided a generous gift to endow the new position of Chief Innovation Officer at USC Norris
    • Drs. John Monterosso and Alayna Tackett, members of the USC Norris Cancer Control Research Program, who were awarded a major grant by the National Cancer Institute
    • Dr. Jorge Nieva, a member of the USC Norris Translational and Clinical Sciences Program and a medical oncologist specializing in lung and head and neck cancer, was featured in a roundtable discussion at the 2022 American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting

Scientific Advances

    • USC Norris members reveal that hydra-elastin-like polypeptides increase rapamycin potency when targeting cell surface GRP78
    • Dr. Vinay Duddalwar, member of the USC Norris Translational and Clinical Sciences Program, revealed that CT-based radiomics signatures may prove to be useful tools to assess grade and stage of clear cell renal cell carcinoma
    • Dr. Jesse Berry, member of the USC Norris Genomic and Epigenomic Regulation Program, utilizes novel approach to characterize retinoblastoma (tumors of the eye) in children
    • Cancer Network sits down with Dr. Heinz-Josef Lenz, Deputy Director for Research Programs at USC Norris, to discuss two novel genes that appear to be promising targets in advanced colorectal cancer
    • Dr. Steve Kay, co-director of the Rosalie and Harold Rae Brown Center for Cancer Drug Development at USC Norris and member of the USC Norris Genomic and Epigenomic Regulation Program, reveals new insights into a deadly brain tumor
    • Clinical trial reveals potential new cancer therapy is feasible and well tolerated amongst patients with metastatic disease

Miscellaneous

    • Faculty Spotlight: Chanita Hughes-Halbert, PhD
    • The Patient Voice: Debbie Sierra-Wilhelm
    • Why Your Gift Matters: Anne Lynch
    • Staff Member of the Month: Carla Martinez 

June/July 2022

Featured Stories

Honors and Appointments

    • Anthony El-Khoueiry has been appointed as the Associate Director for Clinical Research
    • Chanita Hughes-Halbert, Associate Director for Cancer Equity at USC Norris, has been appointed to the Stand Up To Cancer Health Equity Committee
    • John Carpten, Associate Director for Basic Research at USC Norris, was awarded the 2022 Healing Award
    • Adam Leventhal, a member of the USC Norris Cancer Control Research Program, has been awarded the American Psychological Foundation Gold Medal Award for Impact in Psychology.
    • Ahmad Besaratinia, member of the USC Norris Cancer Epidemiology Program, has been appointed to the California Carcinogen Identification Committee.
    • Mariana Stern, Associate Director for Population Science at USC Norris, was a lead contributor to the 2nd American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Cancer Disparities Report
    • Preet Chaudhary, member of the USC Norris Tumor Microenvironment Program, received a $5.8 million award from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine
    • Congratulations to Dr. Adam de Smith, member of the USC Norris Cancer Epidemiology Program, who was awarded a major grant from the National Cancer Institute

Scientific Advances

    • Study reveals a lack of concordance in symptomatic adverse event reporting by children, clinicians, and caregivers
    • Results of randomized controlled trial demonstrate sun protection changes among diverse elementary schoolchildren
    • New study reveals structural analysis of the basal state of the Artemis: DNA-PKcs complex
    • Clinical trial reveals potential new cancer therapy is feasible and well tolerated amongst patients with metastatic disease

Miscellaneous

    • Faculty Spotlight: Gabriel Zada, MD
    • 32nd Festival of Life at USC Norris
    • The Patient Voice: Tiffanie Lin
    • Why Your Gift Matters: Dana Dornsife
    • Staff Member of the Month: Melba Ragasa

April/May 2022

Featured Stories

Honors and Appointments

    • Dr. Heinz-Josef Lenz appointed as the inaugural Deputy Director for Research Programs at USC Norris
    • Dr. William (Dean) Wallace  appointed as the new director of the USC Norris Translational Pathology Core (TPC)
    • Dr. Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati, Associate Director for Community Outreach and Engagement at USC Norris, is the recipient of the USC Joint Educational Project’s 2022 Award for Community Engaged Teaching and Research
    • Ms. Joi Torrence-Hill, Chief of USC Norris Hospital Operations,  has been selected as a 2022 Women of Influence in Health Care recipient by the Los Angeles Business Journal
    • Dr. Evanthia Roussos Torres, member of the USC Norris Tumor Microenvironment Program,  has been awarded the Early Career Investigator Award by METAvivor 

Scientific Advances

    • Metastatic prostate cancer is on the rise after changes to guidelines recommending decreased cancer screenings
    • New approach to non-invasive profiling of advanced prostate cancer combines liquid biopsies and radiomic imaging analysis 
    • A concerning rise in early onset pancreatic cancer particularly among Hispanic and White women
    • Novel epigenetic therapy decreases immune suppression and promotes anti-tumor responses against certain breast tumors
    • New clinical guidance for PET imaging for prostate cancer
    • Immortalizing human alveolar epithelial cells 
    • New consensus report from the National Academies of Sciences provides comprehensive review of patterns of use and health effects of premium cigars 
    • USC Norris Adolescent and Young Adult Program whose project Comedy and Cancer was awarded a grant by the USC Arts in Action, part of USC Visions and Voices.
    • Faculty Spotlight: Casey O’Connell, MD
    • Celebrating Our Nurses
    • USC Norris Volunteer Highlight
    • Why Your Gift Matters: The Gloria Borges WunderGlo Foundation

January/February 2022

Featured Stories

Honors and Appointments

    • Dr. Joseph Wiemels has been appointed Associate Director for Shared Resources at USC Norris
    • Dr. Bodour Salhia has been appointed as the director of the USC Norris Preclinical Shared Resource
    • Minhaal Nathani appointed Executive Director of Development for USC Norris

Scientific Advances

    • Dr. Adam Leventhal reported that adult smoking cessation rates have stalled in the United States in the past five years
    • Dr. Chanita Hughes Halbert discusses basic behavioral science research priorities in minority health and health disparities
    • Dr. Ahmad Besaratinia and his USC Norris colleagues Drs. Stella Tommasi and Kimberly Siegmund reported that critical gene networks are dysregulated in both tobacco and e-cigarette users
    • Dr. Amy Lee and her colleagues revealed a new function of cardiac glycosides 
    • Dr. Albert Farias and his USC Norris colleagues revealed Asian ethnic subgroup disparities in delays of surgical treatment for breast cancer
    • Dr. Fumito Ito identified a critical pathway for the generation of various types of conventional dendritic cells from human induced pluripotent stem cells

Community Outreach and Engagement 

    • Toy Give-Away at the Clinica Monseñor Óscar Romero/ Dia De Reyes 
    • Faculty Spotlight: George Yaghmour, MD
    • Staff Member of the Month: Mechell Epps

November/December 2021

Featured Stories

Scientific Advances

    • USC Norris launches the new Eileen McGeever Breast Cancer Survivorship Program
    • Developing new ways to pinpoint cancer disparities and environmental causes of cancer risk and recurrence
    • Dr. Janice Lu, member of the USC Norris Translational and Clinical Sciences Program, launched a global clinical trial testing a potential therapy for an aggressive type of breast cancer
    • Dr. Heinz-Josef Lenz, associate director for clinical research at USC Norris, and his colleagues identified a promising new first-line treatment for newly diagnosed colon cancer 
    • Dr. Oliver Bell, member of the USC Norris Genomic and Epigenomic Regulation Program, developed a new drug-like molecule that can counteract the effects of mutated epigenetic regulators

Research Grants 

      • Dr. Jennifer Unger, co-leader of the USC Norris Cancer Control Research Program, received a major grant from the National Cancer Institute to examine how social media influencers promote tobacco products
      • Dr. Adam de Smith, member of the USC Norris Cancer Epidemiology Program, received a major grant from the National Cancer Institute to examine cord blood for genetic alterations contributing to a leukemia diagnosis
      • Dr. Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati, associate director for community outreach and engagement at USC Norris, and USC Norris member Dr. Michael Goran received a Center grant from the National Institutes of Health to reduce obesity and cancer-related health disparities in Latino/a/x children and families
      • Dr. Kimberly Miller, member of the USC Norris Cancer Control Research Program, received a major grant from the National Cancer Institute to examine factors associated with cancer-focused survivorship care among young adult Asian American childhood cancer survivors
      • Dr. Ahmad Besaratinia, member of the USC Norris Cancer Epidemiology Program, received a grant from the National Cancer Institute to differentiate the biological consequences of vaping from smoking

Honors and Appointments

    • Dr. Fumito Ito has been recruited to USC Norris and appointed co-leader of the USC Norris Translational and Clinical Sciences Program
    • Dr. Vasiliki Anest, chief innovation officer for USC Norris, has been elected to the board of California Life Sciences
    • Dr. Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati received the Health Equity Award from the Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy, and Leadership
    • Dr. Dieuwertje (DJ) Kast, co-director of the USC Norris Cancer STEM Education Partnership Program, received the Social Impact Abie Award from the global nonprofit AnitaB.org
    • Dr. Mariana Stern, associate director for population science at USC Norris, has been appointed to the steering committee of the Cancer Prevention Working Group
  • Tournament of Roses 2022 Royal Court visits USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Staff Member of the Month: Hinde Kast 
  • The Patient Perspective: Donna Soskin

September/October 2021

Featured Stories

  • Dr. John Carpten appointed by President Biden to chair the National Cancer Advisory Board
  • Dr. Omid Akbari, member of the Tumor Microenvironment Program, and his colleagues identified a novel way to delay the progression of metastatic melanoma 
  • Dr. Amy Lee, associate director for Shared Resources, and her colleagues revealed a new mechanism important in the development and progression of colon and lung cancers 
  • Dr. Adam de Smith, member of the USC Norris Cancer Epidemiology Program, and his colleagues identified a genetic risk factor for  children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia
  • Dr. Woojin An, member of the USC Norris Genomic and Epigenomic Regulation Program, and his USC Norris colleagues revealed that a specific protein is overexpressed in colon cancer and directly contributes to epigenetic gene silencing and the development of colon cancer  
  • Dr. Evanthia Roussos Torres, member of the Tumor Microenvironment Program, and her colleagues discovered a novel immunotherapy approach to improve clinical outcomes in patients with advanced cancers
  • Dr. Vasiliki Anest has been appointed Chief Innovation Officer for USC Norris
  • Dr. Bodour Salhia has been appointed as the new co-leader for the USC Norris Genomic and Epigenomic Regulation Program 
  • Staff Member of the Month: Isabel Lora, Administrative Assistant, Director’s Office
  • Why Your Gifts Matter: Ronald Bloom 
  • The Patient Perspective: Sylvia Kast 

July/August 2021

Featured Stories

  • Chris Draft, NFL Football Player, presented a white ribbon to USC Norris 
  • Dr. Joseph Wiemels, member of the USC Norris Cancer Epidemiology Program, publishes new data that indicates inherited risk of early-onset cancer is higher amongst Latino, African American, and Asian/Pacific Islander families
  • Dr. Josh Neman, member of the USC Norris Tumor Microenvironment Program, published data demonstrating that a critical enzyme can be chemotherapeutically targeted to alleviate metastatic tumor burden on pediatric patients
  • Dr. Crystal Marconett, member of the USC Norris Genomic and Epigenomic Regulation Program, received grant to investigate how a specific form of RNA affects the relationship between DNA repair and immuno-therapeutic responses
  • Dr. David Freyer, member of the USC Norris Cancer Control Research Program, and his colleagues discovered that adolescents and young adults are less likely to present with metastatic disease for almost every cancer
  • Dr. Juliet Emamaullee, member of the USC Norris Tumor Microenvironment Program, has been awarded the 2021 Clinical Science Development Award
  • Staff Member of the Month: John Johnson, Research Lab Tech III/Supervisor 
  • Why Your Gifts Matter: David and Kirsten Muñoz

May/June 2021

Featured Stories

  • Dr. Chanita Hughes-Halbert to advance cancer equity at USC Norris 
  • Drs. Amir Goldkorn, Timothy Triche, and Vinay Duddalwar awarded a new multi-investigator R01 grant from the National Cancer Institute for translational biomarker studies in advanced prostate cancer
  • Dr. Rongfu Wang, co-leader of the USC Norris Tumor Microenvironment Program, identified specific bacteria and immune mechanisms that protect against colorectal cancer
  • Dr. Eugene Kim, USC Norris Tumor Microenvironment Program member, discovered a new approach to a deadly brain tumor in children
  • Dr. Amy Lee, associate director for shared resources at USC Norris, identified a key protein and regulator as a novel target to combat lung cancer
  • USC Norris members Drs. Hugo Rosen and Wendy Setiawan, co-leader of the Cancer Epidemiology Program, received a major grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)
  • Dr. Suhn Rhie, member of the Genomic and Epigenomic Regulation Program, received a grant from the Department of Defense to investigate changes in gene activity in men of African ancestry with prostate cancer
  • Dr. Sia Daneshmand, member of the Translational and Clinical Sciences Program, presented results of a multi-institutional phase II clinical trial of surgery in men with early metastatic testicular cancer
  • Staff Spotlight: Nancy Iwasaki, Accountant
  • Why Your Gifts Matter: Larry Freeman
  • Patient Story 

March/April 2021

Featured Stories

    • Dr. John Carpten elected to the 2021 class of fellows of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Academy
    • Dr. Kimberly Miller, USC Norris Cancer Control Program member, awarded an NCI MERIT award to study how social health might contribute to health behaviors during treatment
    • Dr. Chintan Parekh, USC Norris Tumor Microenvironment Program member, received an NCI R01 grant to support his work in developing new cancer immunotherapies
    • Dr. Wendy Setiawan, co-leader of the USC Norris Cancer Epidemiology Program, received an NCI U01 grant to study to the determinants of endometrical cancer in African American women who suffer higher mortality from this disease
    • Dr. Janice Lu, USC Norris Translational and Clinical Sciences Program member, published the results of a new clinical trial for women with stage 2 or 3 breast cancer
    • The San Pedro Peninsula Cancer Guild
    • New Faculty Spotlight: Ming Li, PhD
    • Staff Spotlight: Alfred Ascencio, USC Norris Facilities Manager 

February 2021

Featured Stories

    • Dr. Amir Goldkorn, USC Norris Associate Director for Translational Research, publishes results from a national phase III trial in Clinical Cancer Research: “Baseline circulating tumor cell count as a prognostic marker of PSA response and disease progression in metastatic castrate sensitive prostate cancer”
    • USC Norris member Shannon Mumenthaler receives National Cancer Institute (NCI) R01 funding for her project to develop a micro-engineered colorectal cancer-on-a-chip model
    • USC Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer (AYA@USC) Program
    • USC Norris receives a new gift to provide genetic testing at no cost for patients without insurance coverage
    • Always Have Hope. As Long as You Live, There Is Hope.
    • New Faculty Spotlight: Mohamed Abou-el-Enein, MD, PhD, MSPH

January 2021

Featured Stories

    • NCCC investigators publish multicenter immunotherapy trial in cervical cancer patients
    • Dr. Crystal Nicole Marconett awarded Research  Scholar Grant from the American Cancer Society to support her research
    • Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) Awards W. Martin Kast and his team the Team Science Award
    • Viewing Life through a Survivor’s Lens
    • Gene and Dodie Gregg Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund

November 2020

Featured Stories

    • Predicting Breast Cancer Recurrence: The Bench with Bedside Initiative™
    • Swing Against Cancer with Bill Poland
    • Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati earns AACR Distinguished Lectureship
    • New Faculty Spotlight: Jennifer Tsui, PhD 

October 2020

Featured Stories

    • USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center receives $5 million for cancer drug discoveries
    • NCI U54 CaRE2 Center for Health Equity
    • AACR Report on Cancer Disparities
    • New Faculty Spotlight: Steven Grossman, MD, PhD; Yali Dou, PhD