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Emory Scientists Selected as Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Scholars


The Georgia Cancer Coalition has named its 2008 GCC Distinguished Cancer Clinicians and Scientists and seven of the 29 scientists named are from the Emory University School of Medicine. The GCC selects scientists engaged in the most promising areas of cancer research.

“The GCC plays an integral role in our ability to recruit world-class physicians and scientists to Emory Winship and to Georgia,” says Brian Leyland-Jones, MD, PhD, director of the Emory Winship Cancer Institute. “Recruitment of these talented physicians and scientists is the cornerstone of our National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center designation.”

Distinguished clinicians and scientists selected from Emory are:

* Volkan Adsay, MD, professor of pathology and vice chair and director of anatomic pathology
* Sheryl Gabram-Mendola, MD, MBA, professor of surgery at Emory and director of oncologic services and the Avon Breast Center at the Georgia Cancer Center for Excellence at Grady Memorial Hospital
* Ann Mertens, PhD, professor of pediatrics at Emory and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s AFLAC Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Service
* Ashesh B. Jani, MD, associate professor of radiation oncology and urology
* Constantinos Hadjipanayis, MD, PhD, assistant professor of neurosurgery
* Pamela Mink, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology in the Rollins School of Public Health
* Rita Nahta, MD, assistant professor of pharmacology and hematology/oncology

Each scholar will receive from $50,000 to $150,000 for five years to support his or her research efforts. The total annual GCC funding for these new Emory Scholars is $700,000 annually and $3.5 million over five years. Since its inception in 2001, the Georgia Cancer Coalition has named 113 Distinguished Scholars; 47 have been named from Emory University.

“Scholar funding is an investment not only in Georgia’s future as a national leader in cancer control, but also in attracting increased funding to Georgia for cancer research,” says Bill Todd, president and chief operating officer of the GCC. “The Distinguished Cancer Clinicians and Scientists program is key to the Georgia Cancer Coalition’s efforts to advance scientific discovery into cancer prevention, treatment and cures. These scientists play an important role in positioning Georgia as a national leader in cancer research.”

Dr. Adsay was recruited in July 2007 from Wayne State University and the Karmanos Cancer Center in Michigan where he was professor of pathology and director of the tissue core. Trained at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Dr. Adsay is considered a preeminent authority on pancreatic and biliary pathology. His research is focused on pancreatic cancer, working to clarify the mechanism and diagnosis of early cancer, refining prognostication and defining new types of tumors and biological differences among tumors. He is one of a select group of scientists invited by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to author the Progress Review Group Report, which maps out the need for future research in pancreatic cancer.

Dr. Mertens has a PhD in epidemiology from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and a master’s degree in biostatistics. She is investigating the health status and quality of life among adolescent and young adult survivors of childhood cancer and researching successful methods of education and health promotion for these and other adult survivors.

Dr. Gabram came to Emory from Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago, where she was professor of surgery. Her research focuses on disparities in care for breast cancer patients and methods for increasing access to quality care.

Dr. Jani joined Emory from the University of Chicago Hospitals and Cancer Research Center, where he was an assistant professor and residency program director. Based on his clinical and research interest in prostate cancer, he plans to compile a comprehensive database with information about treatment planning, treatment toxicity and cancer control measures for all prostate cancer patients from Emory-affiliated health centers. By analyzing this data, Dr. Jani hopes to provide radiotherapists with a better understanding of the factors influencing outcome in the care of prostate cancer patients.

Dr. Hadjipanayis is a neurosurgeon who also holds a PhD in biochemistry and molecular genetics. He was recruited from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine where he served as assistant professor in the departments of neurological surgery and molecular genetics and biochemistry. Dr. Hadjipanayis is researching more effective methods of delivering treatment to malignant brain tumors.

Dr. Mink earned both an MPH and a PhD in epidemiology from the University of Minnesota. She was a cancer prevention fellow in the Division of Cancer Prevention at NCI and a scientist in the Health Sciences group of Exponent, Inc. Her research focuses on the mechanism by which menopausal hormone therapy reduces the risk of colorectal, ovarian and endometrial cancer in women.

Dr. Nahta joined Emory in February, 2007. She was recruited from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where she was a research fellow in molecular oncology and an instructor in the department of breast medical oncology. She has a PhD in pathology and molecular oncology from Duke University, and was a research fellow in molecular oncology at Harvard Medical School. She is researching how resistance to growth factor signals in cancer cells can interrupt development and progression.

About The Georgia Cancer Coalition
The Georgia Cancer Coalition is an independent, not-for-profit organization that unites government agencies, academic institutions, civic groups, corporations and health care organizations in a concerted effort to strengthen cancer prevention, research and treatment in Georgia, with the ultimate goal of making Georgia one of the nation’s premier states for cancer care. The mission is to reduce the number of cancer-related deaths in Georgia. The Coalition is the first of its kind in the nation and is fast becoming a national model. For further information, the official website is

About the Emory Winship Cancer Institute
As a leader in cancer patient care and research, Emory University’s Winship Cancer Institute (EWCI) offers new therapies not usually available outside university-affiliated medical centers, including nearly 200 clinical trials for all types and stages of cancer. The EWCI serves as the coordinating center for a vast array of resources in medical, surgical, and radiation oncology, diagnostic imaging, and the subspecialties of cancer care throughout Emory University--from blood and bone marrow stem cell transplants to internationally recognized breast reconstruction.


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