Attendees at the recent 27th annual City of Hope Research Staff Organization (RSO) Advance meeting learned a lot about SUMO — not the form of wrestling, but rather a protein modification that keeps some cancer-fighting genes under wraps.
David Ann, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Clinical and Molecular Pharmacology, told attendees at the UCLA Lake Arrowhead conference center how a common chemotherapeutic drug promotes expression of tumor suppressor genes by antagonizing in part the attachment of SUMO residues to proteins in cancer cells. SUMO stands for small ubiquitin-related modifier, a family of small proteins.
Ann was just one of the more than 20 City of Hope faculty members who presented short talks at the meeting. Most talks addressed issues of molecular or cell biology relevant to cancer, with topics ranging from how cells repair mutated DNA to development of strategies to get around the problem of chemotherapy resistance.
The two-day meeting began on April 29 with institutional updates from by Susan Kane, Ph.D., associate director of Beckman Research Institute, and Ted Krontiris, M.D., Ph.D, executive vice president of medical and scientific affairs and director of City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Although most speakers were faculty members, two postdoctoral fellows and two graduate students also gave talks. In addition, an afternoon session featured more than 50 posters, which gave City of Hope researchers a chance to talk about science with people they might not usually interact with back in the lab.
Organizers awarded prizes for the best student and postdoctoral fellow presentations. Student winners of a $100 Rachmiel Levine Scientific Communication Award included Selma Masri, Daniel Kim and Louisa Villeneuve, while Mitsuo Kato, Ph.D., Young Cho, Ph.D., and Zhifang Zhang, Ph.D., received the awards for postdoctoral fellows.
Cancer research predominated, but diverse areas of molecular medicine also were highlighted. Rama Natarajan, Ph.D., of the Department of Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism, talked about how cells change the way DNA is packaged in diabetic states, for example.
Those who missed the meeting still have a chance to see the winning posters, organizers note. Posters will soon go on display at the Lee Graff Medical and Scientific Library until the end of June.
For more information about the RSO, visit http://www.cityofhope.org/BRICOH/RSO.htm.