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Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center

The Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center is lucky to have dedicated supporters like you in our community. Over the last year, you have helped us reach more patients, increase our research funding to improve therapies, train future physician-scientists and spread awareness about our cancer programs. Thank you for your commitment to our efforts. 

Pavan Reddy, M.D. 
Director and Senior Associate Dean of Cancer Programs 
Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center 
 

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We are excited to share how you are helping Baylor College of Medicine beat cancer. Because of your confidence in our faculty and programs, the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Lester & Sue Smith Breast Center are quickly growing as leaders in cancer care – from the classroom to the lab to the clinic. Read the report below to see how your support makes a difference.  

Impact by the Numbers

*The above statistics pertain to calendar year 2022.

Optimizing Cancer Care Through Research

Baylor scientists collaborating at the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Your gift provides crucial funds for research programs that are essential to gaining a better understanding of cancer among several populations to inform new therapies. Some particularly important investigations at the Duncan Cancer Center in this past year were: 

  1. MATCH trial: Baylor investigators are leaders for this National Cancer Institute (NCI) study that provides diverse pediatric and young adult cancer patients with access to molecular testing and investigational targeted therapies. To date, more than 1,300 patients have participated nationwide. 
  2. Genome-wide meta-analysis of lung cancer: This study led by Chris Amos, Ph.D., M.S., may lead to a better understanding of the genetic susceptibility of lung cancer across different ancestral populations, resulting in improved early detection and diagnosis. Findings from the study also have potential to translate to better patient survival. 
  3. NCI research support: Baylor obtained two new large program grants from the NCI. One led by Hashem El-Serag, M.D., M.P.H., aims to develop prevention strategies for hepatocellular cancer, which is a major catchment area for cancer in Texas. The second is led by Margaret Goodell, Ph.D., and focuses on clonal hemopoiesis, which can develop into blood cancers. The Duncan Cancer Center also renewed its longstanding Lymphoma SPORE (Specialized Program of Research Excellence) led by Helen Heslop, M.D., and Malcolm Brenner, M.D., Ph.D. 
  4. A potential new treatment for metastatic breast cancer: Shyam Kavuri, Ph.D., and his team at the Smith Breast Center investigated whether different HER2 mutations in breast cancer drove different responses to therapy. They found that the HER2 L755S mutation plays a role in the aggressiveness of lobular breast cancer and further that the drug poziotinib was able to completely inhibit both tumor growth and metastasis in experimental models. Poziotinib offers the possibility of a more effective treatment option for HER2 mutant metastatic breast cancer and is currently being developed for phase II clinical trials. 

Meet Marcus Florez and Rachel Curry

Your support also helps the Duncan Cancer Center recruit brilliant fellows who train under Baylor’s world-leading cancer experts. This addresses a critical need for more knowledgeable physician-scientists who can translate their research into tangible improvements in patient care. Two fellows of note are Marcus Florez and Rachel Curry.

Marcus Florez

Marcus Florez is an M.D./Ph.D. student in the lab of Katherine King, M.D., Ph.D. His work in clonal hematopoiesis – when a cell starts making other cells with the same genetic mutation – resulted in two key publications about hematopoietic cells that adapt to environmental changes and how the process is activated. He also worked with Vlad Sandulache, M.D., Ph.D., and Jan Kemnade, M.D., Ph.D., on a project related to disparities in health outcomes when using the body’s immune system to target head and neck cancer and lung cancer. 

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Rachel Curry

Rachel Curry, a Ph.D. candidate in the lab of Benjamin Deneen, Ph.D., is a cancer and cell biologist with expertise in malignant brain tumors. She received an F31 NRSA fellowship and an F99/K00 fellowship from the National Cancer Institute to study early genomic and epigenomic events that culminate in malignant transformation in pediatric brain tumors. Recently, she published a paper in Neuron about uncovering the drivers of glioma-related epilepsy. You can read more about this incredible work below.

News Highlights at the Duncan Cancer Center 

Your contributions allow Baylor to recruit world-class talent and build new spaces that help us better serve the community. In the last year, the Duncan Cancer Center had many exciting changes, chief among them are the appointment of a new director and the big move to the O’Quinn Medical Tower.  

Pavan Reddy, M.D., joined Baylor in 2022 as director of the Duncan Cancer Center. In this leadership role, Dr. Reddy is strengthening the translational research program to turn discoveries into treatments that improve patient health outcomes. You can learn more about Dr. Reddy’s expertise and plan for the Duncan Cancer Center in this news release.

Baylor physician assistant Isabel Valdez and Nike Onifade, vice president of the oncology service line at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, check out the patient boutique.

On March 28, Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center celebrated the opening of the new O’Quinn Medical Tower on Baylor’s McNair Campus. Designed around optimizing the patient experience, the O’Quinn Medical Tower serves as the new home of Duncan Cancer Center and has allowed it to triple in size. This will allow Baylor’s cancer experts to care for more patients and continue to improve care in an environment that promotes healing and well-being. The O’Quinn Medical Tower officially opened to patients in the second week of May. We look forward to bringing hope to more patients and their families.  

News Highlights at the Smith Breast Center 

Jeffrey M. Rosen, Ph.D., a Distinguished Service Professor who holds the Charles C. Bell, Jr. Professorship in Cell Biology, received the William L. McGuire Memorial Lecture Award at the December 2022 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. The award recognized Dr. Rosen’s key contributions to preclinical and translational breast cancer research, particularly in mammary gland biology and endocrinology. At the lecture, Dr. Rosen presented on “Leveraging preclinical models for translational breast cancer research.”

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Beating Cancer Together

With nearly 2 million new cancer cases in the U.S. last year, your commitment to cancer education, research and care at Baylor is more important than ever. Together, we’re making the Duncan Cancer Center and the Smith Breast Center destinations for patients, physician-scientists and trainees. Thank you for investing in our cancer programs. To learn more about our efforts, click here.