Pagel, McDermott named 2012-13 Better Than Ever grant award recipients

Pagel, McDermott named 2012-13 Better Than Ever grant award recipients

University of Arizona Cancer Center researchers Mark D. “Marty” Pagel, PhD, and Kimberly McDermott, PhD, were named this year’s recipients of the Better Than Ever Program’s grant awards.

The Better Than Ever (BTE) training program is a fitness training and fundraising program designed to help make walking, running or biking a regular part life. The program also raises funds to support investigator-initiated clinical trials. BTE grants have traditionally funded research for women’s cancers, but this year, the BTE effort is expanding to also include correlative studies to investigator-initiated clinical trials for other cancer types.

Each year, the BTE Scientific Review Committee, led by Setsuko K. Chambers, MD, chooses recipients for these grants. This year’s awards bring the 12-year grant distribution total to more than $1.8 million. The following grants have been awarded a total of $90,000 for 2012-2013.

Pagel_Web.jpgDr. Pagel: Measuring tumor acidity in ovarian cancer patients using non-invasive CEST MRI

This study looks into a non-invasive method that uses magnetic resonance imaging to measure the acid content in tumors during pre-clinical studies. In this study, Dr. Pagel and his team of researchers aims to demonstrate that their clinical imaging method can diagnose tumors with high-acid and low-acid content in patients with ovarian cancer. Determining if a patient's tumor has a high acid content can help the patient and physician to select the best chemotherapy, leading to "personalized medicine" for each individual patient.

KimMcD.jpgDr. McDermott: Are primary cilia a predictive marker for hedgehog drug therapeutic efficacy?

The objective of this study is to determine if the presence of primary cilia on Basal Cell Carcinoma is predictive of responsiveness to treatment with an SMO Inhibitor called GDC-0449. This drug is currently in clinical trials for a number of different cancers including Basal Cell Carcinoma and if our study is successful the use of primary cilia as a marker to predict drug efficacy would allow physicians to target treatment specifically to patients that are most likely to respond positively to the drug.

Season 13 of Better Than Ever begins on Wednesday, Sept. 5, with the BTE Kickoff Event and Expo at the UA Cancer Center – Kiewit Auditorium (1515 N. Campbell Ave.) from 5:30 – 7 p.m. For more information, please visit

-Aug. 30, 2012