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Research at Rush > Research Funding > 2009 Research Awardees > 2009 Segal Foundation Awardees
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Congratulations to our 2009 Segal Foundation Awardees!

Mark Yoder, MD
Xiulong Xu, PhD

Title: Target populations for lung cancer screening
Principal Investigator: Mark Yoder, MD, Assistant Professor, Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine
Co-PIs: Palmi Shah, MD, Assistant Professor, Thoracic Radiology
Anthony Kim, MD, Assistant Professor, Thoracic Surgery
Abstract: Lung cancer continues as the leading cause of cancer-related mortality in the United States. Most cases of lung cancer are detected at an advanced stage, at which time surgical resection for cure is no longer feasible. Large-scale studies of lung cancer screening with chest computed tomography (CT), aimed at detecting lung cancer at an early stage, are underway. Preliminary results suggest this strategy may be effective at decreasing lung cancer-specific mortality, but lung cancer screening is not currently recommended outside the context of a clinical trial.

A multi-disciplinary team dedicated to early lung cancer detection will be recruiting current or former smokers 50 years or older to undergo a baseline and one-year follow-up screening chest CT. The utility of nodule detection software in the implementation phase of the study will be assessed by comparing computer-assisted diagnoses with those of an off-site radiologist. The practicality of screening individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), who are at particularly high risk of lung cancer but have generally been excluded from prior screening studies, will be investigated by comparing the prevalence of nodules, number of interval chest CT scans, and biopsy complication rate within this subgroup with that of individuals without pre-existing lung disease. The results of this study are expected to refine the methodology and target population for future CT screening projects.

Title: Role miR-21 in Breast Tumor Initiation and Progression
Principal Investigator: Xiulong Xu, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of General Surgery
Abstract: microRNAs (miRNAs) are a new class of small, non-protein-coding cellular RNAs. miRNAs regulate gene expression by inhibiting protein translation and accelerating the decay of the protein-encoding mRNAs. miR-21 is one of the most prominent miRNAs overexpressed in many types of tumor such as breast cancer. Increased miR-21 expression is associated with a poor prognosis in breast cancer and a poor therapeutic outcome in colon cancer. The levels of miR-21 are increased in colon adenomas and correlate with tumor stages. miR-21 expression in tumor cells enables them to become more resistant to many chemotherapeutic drugs. miR-21 targets many genes involved in programmed cell death, tumor suppression (tropomyosin 1, PDCD4 , and multiple components of p53 pathway), and tumor invasion (Reck and TIMP3). Dr. Xu and his colleagues will use a clinically relevant mouse breast cancer model to determine if miR-21 can initiate breast cancer or assist other oncogenes to promote breast tumor initiation and progression.

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