Arizona Cancer Center researchers awarded outstanding young investigator fellowships

Arizona Cancer Center researchers awarded outstanding young investigator fellowships

The Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) and The Hope Foundation are honored to announce the 2010 Charles A. Coltman Jr., Fellowship awardees: Joanne Jeter, MS, MD, and Daniel Persky, MD. Both future fellows are Arizona Cancer Center members and hold appointments at the University of Arizona.

The Charles A. Coltman Jr., Fellowship is a competitive program that funds outstanding young investigators from current SWOG member institutions. The program places strong emphasis on mentorship by noted Group leaders, and helps fellows develop expertise in clinical trials methodology, protocol activation and management. Two Fellows are selected annually by an independent panel and are awarded $100,000 intended primarily for salary support for two years.

Dr. Jeter is an assistant professor of clinical medicine at the Arizona Cancer Center (AZCC) at the University of Arizona and has been greatly invested in the SWOG Melanoma and Prevention Committees since her appointment to AZCC. With the strong support of her mentors, she designed her proposed project, “Phase II trial of vitamin D supplementation in individuals with intermediate-thickness melanoma without nodal involvement.”

“The purpose of this study is to describe the extent of vitamin D deficiency in the melanoma population,” said Jeter, “and to assess the effects of supplementation in this setting, while answering [specific] questions for individuals with node-negative melanomas with intermediate Breslow thickness.”

Also an assistant professor of clinical medicine at the AZCC, Dr. Persky conducts research to increase survival rates for patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), the most common non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

“Despite an improvement in survival with the addition of rituximab to the chemotherapy regimen CHOP, about 50 percent of patients still relapse and most die from their disease,” wrote Persky. His hypothesis is that “the combination of vorinostat with standard treatment with R-CHOP will enhance MHC class II expression and improve patient outcome in DLBCL, possibly through improving TIL response and immunosurveillance.”

Attainment of a Coltman Fellowship signifies extraordinary commitment and capability in clinical trial design. SWOG and The Hope Foundation recognize that professional education programs are an essential part of establishing best practice throughout all fields of adult cancer treatment.