New CDC Director Named, NIH Awards Grants for Cancer Cell Metastases, and more

Brenda Fitzgerald Named New Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, the Georgia Public Health Commissioner, has been appointed director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by U.S. Secretary
of Health and Human Services Tom Price, MD. She will replace acting director Anne Schuchat, MD, who has been serving since January 2017, when Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, stepped down.

Brenda Fitzgerald, MD

Dr. Fitzgerald will also act as administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

She earned her medical degree from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, and held an assistant clinical professorship at Emory Medical Center after completing post-graduate training at the Grady Memorial Hospital. As a Major in the U.S. Air Force, Dr. Fitzgerald served at Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Michigan and at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, DC.

She ran for Congress twice in the 1990s and served as a health-care policy adviser to former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich and former Sen. Paul Coverdell (R-GA). In 2011, she began her term as the commissioner for the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Nicole F. Steinmetz Receives Grant to Study Nanotechnology to Detect Deep Vein Thrombosis

Nicole F. Steinmetz, PhD, director of the Center for Bio-Nanotechnology and the George J. Picha Professor in Biomaterials at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, received a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop nanotechnology that could improve early diagnosis and drug delivery for patients with deep vein thrombosis.

Nicole F. Steinmetz, PhD

The $2.6 million grant will fund Dr. Steinmetz and her team’s efforts to engineer a molecule that can be injected into the bloodstream during magnetic resonance imaging. The molecule would help doctors identify blood clots and could also disrupt clots and deliver medications.

Source: Case Western Reserve University press release, June 29, 2017.

NIH Awards Grant to Three Researchers to Study Cancer Cell Metastases

The NIH presented a grant to John Slater, PhD, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Delaware; David Mayerich, PhD, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Houston in Texas; and Sylvie Lorthois, PhD, director of research at the French National Center for Scientific Research in Toulouse, to develop a tissue-engineered platform to investigate how cancer cells metastasize.

Dr. Slater’s lab focuses on the development of life-like platforms for disease modeling and drug development. His team recently created an image-guided, laser-based fabrication technique that enables the construction of functional vascular networks in hydrogels. Dr. Mayerich and his team will generate three-dimensional image stacks of organ-specific vasculature using high-resolution, whole-organ imaging. Dr. Lorthois will provide expertise in multimetric quantification of vascular architecture and computational modeling of transport in vascular networks. Together, these efforts will help researchers gain insight into the mechanisms that govern cells’ organ-specific metastasis.

Source: University of Delaware press release, June 27, 2017.

Nader Pourmand Wins NIH’s “Follow That Cell” Challenge

Nader Pourmand, PhD, professor of biomolecular engineering in the Jack Baskin School of Engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz, won the first-place prize in the NIH Follow That Cell Challenge. Dr. Pourmand received $300,000 and was invited to deliver a talk at the NIH Single Cell Analysis Program.

Nader Pourmand, PhD

The Follow That Cell Challenge was created to accelerate the development of innovative approaches to single-cell analysis to detect and assess changes in cells’ health status over time. Dr. Pourmand has spent nearly 15 years developing nanopipette technology that allows researchers to take samples from a living cell without affecting its activity or viability. Dr. Pourmand plans to use the technology to study cancer cells and understand how they can develop resistance to chemotherapy.

Source: National Institutes of Health news release, June 27, 2017.

Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Announces 2017 Continuation Grants

The Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation awarded three 2017 Clinical Investigator Continuation Grants to:

Joshua Brody, MD
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai,
New York, New York
Flt3L-primed ‘in situ’ vaccination for low-grade lymphoma – Phase I/II study of intratumoral injection of rhuFlt3L and poly-ICLC with low-dose radiotherapy [NCT01976585]

Elizabeth L. Budde, MD, PhD
City of Hope, Duarte, California
Targeting CD123 using chimeric antigen receptor T cells for treatment of acute myeloid leukemia

Stephen T. Oh, MD, PhD
Washington University School of Medicine,
St. Louis, Missouri
Targeting aberrant signaling pathways in myeloproliferative neoplasms

The grants support researchers who are approaching the end of original funding and require extra time to finish their studies. Each investigator will receive $300,000 over two years.

Source: Damon Runyon press release, July 3, 2017.