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TGen researcher awarded American Cancer Society fellowship

PHOENIX, Ariz. May 12, 2010 Dr. James Bogenberger has been awarded a 3-year, $150,000 postdoctoral fellowship by the American Cancer Society to research acute myeloid leukemia at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML), the most common and deadliest acute adult leukemia, is a malignancy in granulocytes or monocytes, the body's white blood cells that battle infections.

Dr. Bogenberger's project, Identifying therapeutic targets that sensitize AML to epigenetic therapies, is under the guidance of Dr. Raoul Tibes, an Associate Investigator in TGen's Clinical Translational Research Division and Director of the Hematological Malignancies Program for TGen Clinical Research Service at Scottsdale Healthcare.

Dr. Bogenberger is a member of TGen's Leukemia Research Team, led by Dr. Tibes, which is working to translate state-of-the-art biomedical research into novel targeted therapy approaches for leukemia patients in Arizona. Dr. Bogenberger's fellowship project, which starts July 1, is a collaboration between TGen and a research team at the Mayo Clinic, led by Dr. A. Keith Stewart.

"We are hopeful about the prospects of further investigation and the potential of translating our findings into the clinic,'' said Dr. Bogenberger, who received his doctorate in Cell and Molecular Biology from Colorado State University. "We look forward to demonstrating the merit of our work."

A congratulatory letter from the American Cancer Society to Dr. Bogenberger said, "Your selection resulted from a very rigorous review process intended to fund only the best science and the best scientists and professionals."

AML, which is neither contagious nor inherited, develops through a defect in the immature cells of bone marrow. Although the exact cause is unknown, AML has been linked to prior chemotherapy exposure, benzene exposure and cigarette smoking. Fewer than 10 percent of patients live beyond three years, and there is an urgent need to improve treatment of AML.

Therapeutic drugs that target single cellular processes have shown limited impact in fighting this type of cancer. Because AML results from a progression of multiple cellular processes, Dr. Bogenberger's project proposes to attack the cancer by identifying targets to inhibit in combination with drugs already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration 5-Azacytidine and suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA).

His fellowship project will use cutting-edge methodologies to systematically look for genes that, when silenced, "increase the anti-leukemic potency" of these epigenetic therapies, according to the ACS project summary.

Dr. Bogenberger's ACS award will allow him to build on previous research into AML he has conducted since joining TGen in October 2008.

"Since James joined the lab, he has done excellent work and actively contributed to move projects forward, and we are initiating clinical trials as we speak from results that have come out of these projects," Dr. Tibes said. "This fellowship is well deserved and I congratulate him."


Contact: Steve Yozwiak
The Translational Genomics Research Institute

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