Bob Zhang, Author at NFCR - Page 3 of 10

Bob Zhang


What is Genomics?

Genomics – in general – is the study of a complete set of genetic material (DNA), and when it comes to cancer research, studying DNA is crucial. Cancer develops when DNA becomes damaged or changed. Some cancer-causing genetic changes are inherited, while some come from exposure to chemicals (such as those in cigarette smoke), radiation, certain microbes or other environmental factors. Studying cancer genomics involves exploring the differences between cancer cells and normal cells.
There’s a paradigm shift taking place: We’re moving from an organ-focused (type of cancer) approach to a gene-focused approach. This shift is already having a profound effect on the way cancer is treated and allows doctors to provide more individualized options for patients (also known as precision medicine).

NFCR Research Highlights

In addition to the specific projects listed below, genomics research is part of the work being conducted by every scientist NFCR funds. For many years, NFCR has distinguished itself from other organizations by emphasizing long-term, transformative research and working to move people toward cancer genomics.

One of the most fundamental questions facing scientists today is how seemingly normal cells become cancerous. To better understand how this happens, Dr. Paul Schimmel has dedicated more than 40 years to examining the minute forms and intricate functions of molecular biology. In 1983, Dr. Schimmel developed the concept for what are now known as ESTs (expressed sequence tags) and the strategy of shotgun sequencing. These approaches were later adopted in the human genome project. In fact, his work on the development of ESTs is known as one of the four key developments that launched the human genome project.

Dr. Wei Zhang has devoted his entire career to the pursuit of precision oncology – specifically to the key molecular and genomic events that drive the development and progression of cancer. Over the last 18 years, Dr. Zhang and his team have identified multiple novel cancer markers and oncogenic signaling molecules.

Read more

Brain Cancer

People of all ages are diagnosed with brain cancer, but there is more frequency among children and older adults. Brain cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in children.

Key Facts

  • Of the nearly 80,000 brain tumors diagnosed in the U.S. each year, approximately 32% are considered malignant – or cancerous.
  • An estimated 23,800 malignant tumors of the brain and spinal cord will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2017, with over 16,700 deaths expected to result from the diagnosis.
  • Overall, the chance that a person will develop a malignant tumor of the brain or spinal cord in his or her lifetime is less than 1% (about 1 in 140 for men and 1 in 180 for women).
  • Survival rates vary widely depending on the type of tumor.
  • Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the deadliest type of brain cancer, accounting for 45% of all malignant brain tumors.

Brain Cancer Research

In addition to specific projects listed below, genomics research is helping us attack brain cancers – and all types of cancer. NFCR has distinguished itself from other organizations by emphasizing long-term, transformative research and working to move people toward cancer genomics

will be diagnosed in 2017
deaths expected in 2017
% lifetime risk of brain cancer

Dr. Rakesh Jain is a leader in the field of tumor biology – specifically in anti-angiogenic therapy, which looks at thwarting certain types of blood vessel formation. Dr. Jain has been studying the role angiogenesis plays in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the deadliest form of brain cancer. Dr. Jain’s research is helping doctors better tailor the use of anti-angiogenic therapies by identifying the characteristics that cause resistance for GBM patients. Dr. Jain and his team have identified molecular resistance pathways that may direct the development of new drugs that target these pathways and could extend the benefits of anti-angiogenic therapies for patients.

Because GBM invades healthy tissues near the tumor, Dr. Jain’s current NFCR-funded research is focused on testing inhibitors that could prevent invasion. Vessel co-option is a process by which cancer cells migrate through and around nearby healthy tissue. Dr. Jain is identifying genes and pathways that facilitate vessel co-option in order to prevent invasion and improve GBM therapies.

The Director of NFCR’s Scientific Advisory Board, Dr. Web Cavenee, has partnered with NFCR-funded scientist Dr. Paul B. Fisher to discover a new pharmacological agent that could – with additional chemistry – lead to a new drug to prevent radiation-induced invasion of GBM cells. The researchers have tested their pharmacological agent in combination with radiation and have seen profound survival benefits in pre-clinical models.

NFCR-funded scientist Dr. W.K. Alfred Yung focuses his research on drugs that target a gene called PI3K, which is a key factor in about 30% of GBM cases. His team collected glioma stem cells (GSCs) from GBM patients and developed a special panel of cell lines to investigate patterns of resistance to P13K inhibitors. The researchers are figuring out the molecular profile of these GSCs to identify potential targets for drug development. Results from the P13K studies have shown that the molecular profile of GSCs contain increased levels of Wee-1, which is a protein that controls cell division and growth. Following these results, the team then combined a P13K inhibitor with a Wee-1 inhibitor and found there was a greater inhibition of cell growth and the cancer cells were induced into cell suicide. Plus, when they tested the same inhibitors on complex GBM tumor models, they discovered similar benefits. These findings reveal molecular targets and designs for combination therapies that could lead to new treatments for GBM patients.

Read more

Daffodils & Diamonds

37th Annual Daffodils & Diamonds Luncheon and Fashion Show

When:  March 15, 2018

Time:  10:30 am

Where:  Columbia Country Club
7900 Connecticut Avenue
Chevy Chase, MD 20815

Fashion Show Provided by: Lilly Pulitzer

The Daffodils and Diamonds Luncheon was founded by Bethesda’s Alice-Anne Birch in honor of her mother and sister, both of whom succumbed to the disease. The luncheon is held to raise funds for National Foundation for Cancer Research, specifically for breast and ovarian cancers.

The Daffodils and Diamonds Committee is a group of strong and accomplished women who have resolved to move forward together in the fight against cancer. Thanks to their hard work and generosity, hundreds of thousands of life-saving research dollars have been generated for NFCR’s advanced cancer research.

WJLA-TV 7 Anchor Alison Starling, a strong supporter, will once again emcee the event.

This year’s event is hosted in loving memory of one of the earliest and strongest supporters of Daffodils & Diamonds, and an original member of NFCR’s Board of Advisors, Nancy Flood Cole.  The program will support Nancy’s Wish.

Nancy’s wish after meeting NFCR-funded scientist, Dr. Jim Basilion, was to fund his promising work.  Incomplete surgical resections of breast cancer may result in cancer recurrence or repeated surgery.  He is developing “smart probes” which allow surgeons to rapidly identify those residual cancer tissues, resulting in undergoing only one surgery.  This will increase a patient’s survivorship and reduce reoccurrence.  This fund named “Nancy’s Wish” will help Dr. Basilion continue his great work.

2018 Committee Members

Mr. Anthony Laws Birch

Mr. John L. Bohraus

 Mrs. Pamela Brancaccio

Mr. Kevin Brown

Miss Caroline Flood Cole

Mr. Irwin L. Crawford II

Mr. David Hammond Cunningham

Mr. Michael J. Doyle

Miss Mary Jane Edwards

Mr. Henry Harold Elliott Jr.

Mr. John Fritz Finley

Mr. L. Andrew Funt

Mr. Trevor Gardner Jr.

Mr. Joshua Heller

Mr. Charles H. Hopkins, Jr.

Ms. Charles Howard Kneessi

Ms. Elizabeth Walker Lamond

Ms. J. Lynn Lawson

Mr. Powell Smith Lindsay

Ms. Carrie Mann

Mr. Stephen Cassin Muir

Mrs. Claudia H. Neal

Mr. Michael Peter Novelli

Ms. Gail Markham Peterson

Mr. John Edward Powell

Mr. Walter Edward Rogers Jr.

Ms. Deepika Prasad

Ms. Melissa Siegel

Mr. James Anthony Soltesz

Mr. Harrison Somerville Jr.

Mr. John Frederick Sturm

Mrs. Phyllis Thomas-Thompson

Mrs. Kristina Koones Veirs

Read more


Corporate Partners

Non-Profit Partners

Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, Inc.
The Litterman Family Foundation
The Phase Foundation
Ho Chen Family Foundation
Milch Family Foundation
Russ & Andrea Gullotti Charitable Fund within the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry
The Howard & Kennon McKee Charitable Fund


We are always looking for more partners to join us in the fight against cancer. To join NFCR’s fight against cancer, please contact us at 1-800-321-CURE (2873) or via email at

Read more

2017 Award Recipient: Michael N. Hall, Ph.D.

Monday, May 1, 2017
6:00 pm

National Press Club
529 14th Street NW,
Washington, DC 20045

Professor of Biochemistry, Biozentrum of the University of Basel, Switzerland

The 2017 Selection Committee announced cell growth research pioneer Michael N. Hall will receive the 2017 Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research.

In 1991, Hall discovered one of the most important cancer cell targets in the modern era of oncology, which he named “Target of Rapamycin” or TOR. He discovered that TOR – a conserved protein kinase – controls cell growth and a wide range of metabolic processes that when dysregulated cause disorders such as cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. TOR inhibitors are used today in treatments for kidney, breast, brain and pancreatic cancers, and numerous clinical trials are currently underway testing TOR inhibitors in the treatments of many types of cancer.

Featured Items

Read more

2016 Prize: Mary-Claire King, Ph.D.

View the 2016 Press Release

View Photos from the 2016 Ceremony

Professor of Medicine (Medical Genetics) and Genome Sciences at University of Washington

The Szent-Györgyi Prize selection committee was unanimous in its decision to recognize Dr. King, whose work has proved foundational to the genetic understanding of cancer.  In particular, her proof of existence of BRCA1 and the identification of its location made genetic screening for breast and ovarian cancers possible.

Dr. King’s discovery has led to the genotype-based breast cancer screening practice that can identify individuals who have inherited mutations in BRCA1 and give them a chance to take preventive measures at an early stage of their lives.

Dr. King’s discoveries represent a fundamental step in the understanding of cancer and have changed the face of cancer prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment.

Read more

2015 Prize: Frederick Alt, Ph.D.

View the 2015 Press Release

View Photos from the 2015 Ceremony

Keynote Speaker: Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA)

Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, Director of the Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator

The Szent-Györgyi Prize selection committee was unanimous in its decision to recognize Dr. Alt, whose work has proved foundational to the modern understanding of cancer – not only how the lethal disease forms, but also how it can become resistant to treatment. In particular, his seminal discoveries of gene amplification and his pioneering work on molecular mechanisms of DNA damage repair have helped to usher in the era of genetically-targeted therapy and personalized medicine.

Dr. Alt’s discovery of gene amplification in chemotherapy-resistant cancer cells—which revealed that cells can produce multiple copies of a gene—was revolutionary, coming at a time when the human genome was widely believed to be stable and inflexible. This radical new concept suggested that cancer cells could change their genes, a process that would both allow them to develop more potent cancer-causing genes as well as evolve resistance to treatment.

Equally important is Dr. Alt’s work on the critical DNA repair mechanism called “non-homologous end joining” (NHEJ). Dr. Alt not only made the initial experimental findings that led to the discovery of this pathway, but also carried out an ingenious series of experiments over many years in his lab in Boston, taking it apart piece by piece to understand how it works. This work linked NHEJ to protecting against a specific kind of DNA damage called “translocations,” which is a major component of many cancers, especially leukemia and lymphoma.

Read more

2014 Prize: James Allison, Ph.D.

View the 2014 Press Release

View Photos from the 2014 Ceremony

Keynote Speaker: Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS)

Chairman, Department of Immunology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies

The Szent-Györgyi Prize Selection Committee recognizes Dr. Allison momentous achievement in the fight against cancer and his extraordinary leadership in the modern era of oncology.

Dr. Allison, along with Dr. Jeff Bluestone, was the first to show that a protein receptor on T cells, the enforcers of the immune system, acts as a checkpoint to shut down immune response.  Allison developed an antibody that unleashes the immune system to attack cancer by blocking the immune checkpoint molecule CTLA-4 and conducted extensive preclinical work showing that blockade of CTLA-4 could lead to rejection of many types of tumors.  This research led to the development of the first drug to significantly extend survival for patients with late-stage melanoma.

From 2004 to 2012, Dr, Allison served as Chairman of the Immunology program and other distinguished positions at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.  Prior to 2004, Dr. Allison was faculty at the University of California, Berkley; Stanford University; and the UT MD Anderson Cancer Center.  He earned his Ph.D. in biological sciences from the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Allison has won numerous honors for biomedical research including the inaugural AACR-CRI Lloyd J. Old Award in Cancer Immunology, The Economist’s 2013 Innovations Award for Bioscience, and a 2014 Breakthrough prize  in Life Sciences.  He co-leads a Stand Up to Cancer Dream Team research project in immunotherapy.

Read more

2013 Prize: Alex Matter, M.D.

View the 2013 Press Release

View Photos from the 2013 Ceremony

Keynote Speaker: John Castellani, President & CEO, PhRMA

CEO, Experimental Therapeutics Centre of Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore, Member of the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences

The Szent-Györgyi Prize Selection Committee recognizes Alex Matter, M.D., for his contributions to the development of the first drug specifically targeting a molecular lesion in cancer.

Dr. Matter received his medical degrees from the Universities of Basel and Geneva, and completed his doctoral thesis at the Institute of Pathology at the University of Basel. He held fellowships at the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Swiss Academy for Medical Sciences. Alex Matter, M.D. is currently CEO of the Experimental Therapeutics Centre, A*STAR, Singapore, having spent five and a half years as Director of the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases (NITD), from October 2003 to February 2009. Prior to this role, Dr. Matter was Global Head of Oncology Research for Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, Head of Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research in Basel and Global Head of Translational Research.

Dr. Alex Matter previously held teaching positions at the University of Basel and the European University Confederation of Rhine. He has published more than 100 scientific articles, several book chapters in the area of oncology and hematology, and is emeritus Professor of the Medical Faculty of the University Basel and an Honorary Adjunct Professor of the Department of Pharmacology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore.

Dr. Matter is a member of the American Association for Cancer Research, the National Medical Research Council in Singapore, and the Board of Curiox, a Singapore-based start-up company, and is also an elected member of the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences. Dr. Matter is the recipient of the 13th Warren-Alpert Prize and the AACR-Bruce F. Cain Memorial Award.

Read more

2012 Prize Co-Recipient: Zhen-Yi Wang, M.D.

View the 2012 Press Release

View Photos from the 2012 Ceremony

Keynote Speaker: Wei Wu He, Ph.D., CEO and Chairman of OriGene Technologies, Inc.

Professor at the School of Medicine of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Honorary Director of the Shanghai Institute of Hematology, Member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and the French Academy of Sciences

The Szent-Györgyi Prize Selection Committee recognizes Zhen-Yi Wang, M.D., for his innovative research, in collaboration with Zhu Chen, Ph.D., that led to the successful development of a new therapeutic approach to acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL).

Dr. Zhen-yi Wang was born in Shanghai China in November 1924 and graduated from Aurora University School of Medicine (Shanghai China) and he got MD degree. Dr. Wang was President of Shanghai Second Medical University [now Shanghai Jiao-tong University (SJTU), Medical School), 1984-1988], director of Shanghai Institute of Hematology (SIH, 1987-1996). He is now Professor Emeritus of SJTU School of Medicine, honorary Director of SIH, member of Chinese Academy of Engineering (from 1994), Foreign Correspondent member of French Academy of Sciences (From 1992).

He is a one of the pioneers in thrombosis and haemostasis research in China. His successful research in the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia with all-trans retinoic acid provides a paradigm in differentiation therapy in cancer, for which he obtained at home, award of National Natural Science grade III(1993), National Top Award for Science and Technology(2011), Prize of Science from He-Ling-He-Li foundation (HK 1995), outstanding scientist prize from Qiu-Shi foundation (HK, 1996). Abroad, he was awarded Kettering Prize for cancer research from GM foundation USA(1994), Brupbacher Cancer Research Prize from Switzerland(1997), Prix Mondial Cino Del Duca from France(1998), Ham-Wasserman Lecture Prize from American Society of Hematology(2003), he was honored Honorary Doctor of Sciences from Colombia University USA(2001). His first paper published in 1998 in Blood has been cited 1632 times up to 2009, and was considered one of the 86 landmark papers in 20th century Hematology ( Lichtman MA et al).

He has published more than 320 papers, 5 books, trained 34 students for Master and 21 for doctor degree of sciences.

Read more