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October 27, 2014

MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR

Special Two Endowed Professorships Celebration for Goutham Narla, MD, PhD, and Analisa DiFeo, PhD

For the Cancer Center, the afternoon of Wednesday, October 29 is a special occasion. At Severance Hall Reinberger Chamber Hall, Dean Pam Davis will recognize two of our outstanding young investigators at a ceremony to be followed by a short presentation and a reception. Please join us in congratulating Analisa DiFeo and Goutham Narla on this exciting recognition.

Analisa DiFeoAnalisa DiFeo joined Case Western Reserve University in March 2012 with a primary appointment as Assistant Professor of Oncology in the Cancer Center. She completed her doctoral research at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York where she played a central role in defining alternative splicing of the KLF6 gene family as a key regulator in ovarian cancer. She is an accomplished young investigator, with 38 peer-reviewed publications, including two in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, and a 2014 senior author publication in Nature Communications.

Analisa's work focuses on model systems for the biology and treatment of ovarian cancer. She is developing drug resistance modulation, miRNA markers of advanced disease, PDX models, and a robust tumor bank leading to collaborations across the Cancer Center. Analisa has assembled a multidisciplinary group of dedicated translational research scientists, gynecologic oncologists, clinical fellows, pathologists, informatics scientists, and biostatisticians focused on understanding the molecular defects associated with ovarian cancer initiation, progression and chemoresistance. She was also the recipient of the Liz Tilberis Scholars Award from the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, a pilot award from the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) in 2011, and a Mary Kay Foundation Grant.

This Wednesday, Analisa will be recognized as the Norma C. and Albert I. Geller Designated Professor of Ovarian Cancer Research at CWRU School of Medicine. The Geller family will be in attendance, providing immediate attention to their interest in advancing the science of ovarian cancer biology leading to improved diagnosis and treatment for this disease.

Goutham NarlaGoutham Narla also joined CWRU in 2012. Afterall, interviewing for positions as a couple, Goutham and Analisa became convinced that CWRU, the Institute for Transformative Medicine, and the Cancer Center were the best places for them to pursue their careers.

Goutham will receive recognition as the James T. Pardee-Carl A. Gerstacker Professor of Cancer Research at CWRU School of Medicine. This chair is designed to advance the careers of newly recruited faculty conducting cancer research, and we could not have chosen better. Trained in Medicine and Genetics, Goutham is pursuing the complexity of FoxO1 and Krupl proteins, while at the same time also developing anticancer agents which inhibit the phosphatase, Pp2a. His accomplishments focused on targeting Pp2a for inhibitors have been remarkable. He first conceived of this approach less than two years ago and already has lead compounds that are likely to enter preclinical evaluation this year. Given the fundamental role of phosphatases in cancer, it is perhaps not surprising that his efforts have identified a number of very promising agents and clinical applications in hard to treat cancers. He has 48 peer-reviewed publications in journals like Science, Science Translational Medicine, Nature Genetics, Nature Communications, Oncogene, and The Journal of Clinical Investigation, and is already establishing himself as an internationally recognized cancer investigator.