Cancer Biology graduate program, Parkinson’s research to benefit from major estate gift to the University of Arizona

Cancer Biology graduate program, Parkinson’s research to benefit from major estate gift to the University of Arizona

A planned estate gift to the University of Arizona will name The Tim and Diane Bowden Cancer Biology Graduate Interdisciplinary Program at the UA Cancer Center, and support Parkinson’s disease research being conducted by Associate Professor Scott J. Sherman, MD, PhD, of the Neurology Department in the UA College of Medicine.

G. Timothy Bowden, PhD, is a professor emeritus of cellular and molecular medicine, molecular and cellular biology, pharmacology and toxicology, and radiation oncology at the University of Arizona. He has been a member of the UA Cancer Center since 1978. In 1988, Dr. Bowden helped to establish and then served as the Center’s “CBIO” Graduate Program’s director from 1992 to 2010. Since its inception, the Cancer Biology Graduate Interdisciplinary Program has graduated 76 doctoral students, including seven MD/PhD students, who have gone on to research careers and leadership positions in academia, government and industry.

“They are all working on different aspects of the cancer problem,” Dr. Bowden said of the CBIO graduates. “They are all very successful.”

“We want to see this program flourish. This gift will create a legacy and have an impact on the treatment of patients with cancer,” Dr. Bowden said. “Our belief is that a graduate education in cancer biology will prepare cancer researchers to take on the challenges of preventing and curing cancer.” Dr. Bowden credits the CBIO Program’s longtime program coordinator, Anne Cione, for being “the life blood of the program.”

“Members of both of our families have been affected by cancer,” Diane Bowden said. “We want to do what we can to ensure this program continues on.”

Diane Bowden said she and her husband have had a true partnership over their married life and careers. “We have worked hard and played hard together.” The couple has traveled and enjoyed outdoor recreational activities in 30 countries around the world.

“This generous gift from Tim and Diane Bowden will have a long-lasting impact on the University of Arizona Cancer Center’s ability to educate and train next-generation cancer biologists, as well as conduct cutting-edge research in lymphoma,” said Anne Cress, PhD, interim director of the UA Cancer Center.

Dr. Bowden’s cancer research focused on the molecular mechanisms of skin carcinogenesis with an emphasis on critical gene alterations in the multistage process of chemical carcinogenesis; the development of new drug targets for skin cancer prevention; and prostate cancer and molecular determinants of biological diversity in the disease. His work has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1978 and Cancer Center faculty are continuing his research efforts.

During his tenure at the Cancer Center, Dr. Bowden also served as director of education, director of basic sciences and chief scientific officer, and the Cancer Center’s deputy director. He has mentored more than 25 postdoctoral students; 20 PhD students, including 12 from the CBIO program; five master’s degree students and several dozen undergraduate students. He served on PhD supervisory/dissertation committees for 87 students, including one current student.

Dr. Bowden was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2007. Dr. Sherman is his primary neurologist.

“We have a common research interest across our fields – me in skin cancer and he in Parkinson’s disease,” Dr. Bowden said of Dr. Sherman. Both men are considering why Parkinson’s patients have an increased risk of melanoma.

Dr. Sherman’s work in induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) generation from adult stem cells “is a great alternative treatment. iPSC has the potential to replace cells that have died and they will come directly from the patient’s skin cells and should not be rejected,” Dr. Bowden said. “A new approach needs to be developed for the treatment of Parkinson’s – not just the symptoms but the disease.”

The Bowdens’ gift also will support lymphoma research and provide funds for other uses at the Cancer Center, as well as student support.

Tim and Diane Bowden, natives of Cincinnati, Ohio, were junior high school sweethearts and married in 1966. They moved to Tucson in 1978 when Tim joined the faculty of the Department of Radiology, Division of Radiation Oncology at UA. Dr. Bowden received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Ohio Wesleyan University and a doctorate in experimental oncology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He held a two-year postdoctoral appointment at the German Cancer Research Institute in Heidelberg and was a staff fellow at the National Cancer Institute before being recruited to the UA.

Diane Bowden’s career spanned 22 years at Carondelet Health Network where she started as a programmer and became responsible for the health system’s financial software and medical records software systems. She is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati in anthropology and sociology, and the UA in management information systems.

-March 14, 2014