Lecture series for non-scientists to spotlight stem cells, new blood cancer therapies

Lecture series for non-scientists to spotlight stem cells, new blood cancer therapies

January 7, 2009

Learn about how the frontiers of science are being used to find new treatments for blood cancers during a series of eight free lectures beginning Jan. 10 that will be given by a University of Chicago expert. Named for the Nobel Laureate, the seventh annual Charles B. Huggins Lecture Series will feature Wei Xu, a PhD candidate in the Committee on Cancer Biology, Division of Biological Sciences, who will share how breakthrough research is being used to find better treatment for blood cancers.

Open to the public, this year's series entitled, "Blood, Stem Cells and Cancers of the Blood," was created for anyone interested in understanding the difference between hematopoietic stem cells and other kinds of cells in the body. In her lecture, Xu will also cover how stem cell therapies are used in cancer therapy.

The lectures are designed for the general public and will be especially informative for cancer patients and their families.

Over the eight-week series, Xu will give an overview of components of the blood and how and where they are formed. These early lectures will provide background for discussion about the role of stem cells in the blood and how they can malfunction and cause leukemias and lymphomas. In the final lectures, she will conclude by discussing current and emerging therapies for blood cancers, in addition to the mysteries that cancer researchers and physicians still need to solve in order to find better treatments.

Xu received the 2008 Ehrman Award, bestowed by the Committee on Cancer Biology to a senior graduate student who achieves academic excellence.

Each lecture will be held from 11 a.m. to noon on eight consecutive Saturdays beginning Jan. 10, at the Billings Auditorium, Room AMB P117, located in the University of Chicago Medical Center. The Medical Center can be accessed from two entrances: Surgery and Brain Research Institute, 5812 S. Ellis Ave., or Mitchell Hospital, 5815 S. Maryland Ave.

Parking is available for a nominal fee at 5840 S. Maryland Ave.

The series is named after Charles B. Huggins, MD, who won the 1966 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for research on testosterone's involvement in prostate cancer. Huggins founded and was the first director of the Ben May Department for Cancer Research at the University of Chicago. The annual lecture series is intended to make science accessible to a general audience and to convey the excitement of new discoveries in the biological sciences.

The Saturday lecture topics will be as follows:
Jan. 10: "What's Inside Our Blood? The Make-up and Function of the Blood"
Jan. 17: "Hematopoiesis: the Formation of Blood Cells"
Jan. 24: "The Hematopoietic Stem Cell: What is a Hematopoietic Stem Cell? Where is it from and Where is it Going?"
Jan. 31: "When Things go Wrong in Hematopoiesis: Cancer of the Blood Cells"
Feb. 7: "Genetic and Epigenetic Alterations in Blood Cells"
Feb. 14: "Basic Research Approaches and Models for Leukemia and Lymphoma Study"
Feb. 21: "Cancer Stem Cells: In the Blood and Elsewhere"
Feb. 28: "Current and Emerging Therapies for Leukemia and Lymphoma"

For more information or for assistance for handicapped persons, call (773)702-3940.

About the University of Chicago Medical Center
The University of Chicago Medical Center, established in 1927, is one of the nation's leading academic medical institutions. It consists of the renowned Pritzker School of Medicine; Bernard Mitchell Hospital, the primary adult patient care facility; Comer Children's Hospital, devoted to the medical needs of children; Chicago Lying-in Hospital, a maternity and women's hospital; and the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine, a state-of-the-art ambulatory-care facility with the full spectrum of preventive, diagnostic, and treatment functions. Care is provided by more than 700 attending physicians--most of whom are full-time University faculty members--620 residents and fellows, more than 1,000 nurses and 9,500 employees.

The Medical Center is consistently recognized as a leading provider of complex medical care. It is the only Illinois hospital ever to make the U.S.News & World Report Honor Roll, with eight clinical specialties--digestive disorders; cancer; endocrinology; neurology and neurosurgery; heart and heart surgery; kidney disease; geriatrics; and ear, nose and throat--ranked among the top 30 programs nationwide. The Medical Center was awarded Magnet status in 2007, the highest level of recognition for nursing care.