It is with great pleasure that we share with you some very exciting news for Kentucky and our region: Markey Cancer Center has recently earned National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation. This honor was made possible after years of collaboration and the collective efforts of our outstanding researchers, clinicians and staff members.
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 12, 2013) -- When Michael Marler, 58, was diagnosed with a brain tumor, his work became his therapy. A lifelong painter and carver, Marler, a UK HealthCare patient who has received care at Markey Cancer Center and the Kentucky Neuroscience Institute, used art therapy as his "go-to" method of coping as his disease progressed.
Now a hospice patient, Marler will see his life's dream of a solo exhibit come to fruition thanks to the efforts of Hospice of the Bluegrass and the Junior League of Lexington. "Up in Arms: the Art of Michael Marler" will take place 4 to 7 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 15, at the Bodley Bullock House in Gratz Park. In accordance with Marler's wishes, proceeds from any works sold that day will be donated to Hospice of the Bluegrass.
The exhibit will showcase Marler's work from 2011 to present, which chronicle his ability to adapt to the progress of his disease through the use of vivid colors and changing textures, according to Anne Deck, WUKY employee and arts chair for the Junior League.
"The title for the exhibit was chosen to reflect Michael's contagious, uplifting spirit and unwavering faith," says Deck. "It is truly a special person who can go beyond their illness and share, through art, their deeply personal moments from their Hospice journey."
In addition to works for sale, visitors can fill a guest registry with messages of support and encouragement for Michael and his family.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 11, 2013) — Dr. Mark Evers, director of the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center, professor and vice-chair for research in the Department of Surgery and Markey Cancer Foundation Endowed Chair, has been elected the new president of the Southern Surgical Association.
One of the nation’s leading medical groups, the association is dedicated to furthering the study and practice of surgery, especially in the Southern states. Previously, Evers served as secretary for the association.
"I'm proud to simply be a part of this prestigious organization, and it's truly an honor to serve its members as President over the next year," Evers said.
Evers is an internationally recognized clinician-scientist, surgeon, educator and administrator. Under his leadership, the UK Markey Cancer Center achieved National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation earlier this year, becoming only the 68th medical center in the country to receive NCI designation and the only NCI-designated cancer center in Kentucky.
His laboratory research has been continuously funded for more than 20 years from the National Institutes of Health. As a surgeon, his primary interests are in colorectal and endocrine surgery. His research interests are predominately focused on signaling mechanisms for proliferation of colorectal cancers and in hormonal control of cancer growth.
Evers has been recognized for his research achievements including election to the American Society for Clinical Investigation and leadership positions in various national societies including the Society for Surgical Oncology, American College of Surgeons, the American Gastroenterological Association and the Society of University Surgeons of which he is a past president.
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 6, 2013) — The University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center will host a special photo exhibit and reception honoring Kentucky lung cancer survivors this Monday, Dec. 9 at 1 p.m. in the atrium of the cancer center's Combs Research Building.
The exhibit, "Faces of Lung Cancer," was coordinated by the Kentucky Cancer Program to spread awareness about lung cancer and prevention. Photos of each of the nine survivors will be prominently displayed along with a brief personal statement. In addition to the two survivors who are attending, featured speakers include UK Markey Cancer Center Director Dr. Mark Evers, cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Timothy Mullett, oncologist Dr. Susanne Arnold, Kentucky Center for Smoke-free Policy Director Ellen Hahn, and Kentucky Cancer Registry Director Tom Tucker.
Exhibit participant Juanita Meade, who has been cancer-free for more than two years, says she hopes the exhibit helps raise awareness for the cause and provides inspiration for those who may be going through a similar situation.
"I hope the message people take away is that we need more support, we need more research," Meade said. "And you have to be strong, you have to have faith. I thought, 'I am on the ride of my life, and I'm going to hang on.'"
Kentucky leads the nation in both new incidences of lung cancer and deaths from the disease. Though tobacco use is the biggest risk factor for developing lung cancer, anyone can develop the disease regardless of his or her smoking status. Lung cancer kills nearly twice as many women as breast cancer, and it is the leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women in the U.S.
As the state's only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, Markey's mission is to ensure that all Kentuckians can receive the best possible cancer care closest to home, and to make an impact on the cancers that are affecting our state the most -- like lung cancer.
"We've taken extraordinary steps in recent years to help combat cancer incidence and mortality, and I'm proud to say that Markey patients with lung cancers show higher five-year survival rates than patients treated at other cancer centers nationwide," said Dr. Mark Evers, director of the UK Markey Cancer Center. "However, we are always working reduce this burden on our state — and events like 'Faces of Lung Cancer' are another way for us to educate the community about this often-fatal disease."
"Faces of Lung Cancer" will remain on display at UK in the Combs Building atrium for one week. The exhibit will travel across the state and be displayed in various communities over the next 12 months. Local exhibits, including educational materials and speakers, will be coordinated by KCP regional staff in collaboration with district cancer councils and other community groups.
KCP is a state-funded cancer control program jointly administered by the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville. It includes 14 regional offices across the state. KCP at UK serves Central and Eastern Kentucky.
All photos in "Faces of Lung Cancer" were taken by Richmond photographer Tim Webb, who donated his time. For more information about scheduling the exhibit in your community, contact your local KCP office. For contact information, go to www.kcp.uky.edu and click on "Regional Offices."
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 5, 2013) -- The season of thankfulness and giving is upon us and students and faculty from George Rogers Clark High School in Winchester, Ky., are among those stepping up to help others.
Last week, students from the school delivered gift boxes to the UK Markey Cancer Center to spread holiday cheer. The boxes each contained candy and painted eggs that were hollowed out -- when cracked open, the eggs contained an inspirational quote for the patient.
The school group that was responsible for putting these gift boxes together was iTime, a new program to GRC this year. iTime is an academic-free activity chosen by students at the beginning of the year. This specific program was called Community Service iTime.
A group of around 10 iTime students volunteered in the creation of the gift boxes, with the supervision and help from school faculty and the high school's principal. Participating students were sophomores and freshmen.
Makayla Arnett, a sophomore at GRC and the student in charge of organizing the school group's donation, has a special place in her heart for those battling with cancer, which inspired her to suggest Markey as the recipient of the group's efforts.
"Throughout my life, cancer has been present in multiple family members and friends," Arnett said. "My uncle, being the closest, was like my second dad. When he was diagnosed, they sent him to Markey, and throughout those three years, Markey was a huge part of our lives."
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 8, 2013) – In biomedical research, access to human tissues is of central importance in studying a disease or condition, and ultimately in developing drugs and looking for cures. For this reason, the University of Kentucky Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) is rolling out an innovative project to develop an extensive Research Registry and Specimen Bank, called a biobank, for UK researchers.
The biobank will utilize leftover blood and tissue from normal medical procedures. For example, when a patient undergoes a blood draw or tissue biopsy, the blood or tissue that isn’t used for testing is normally thrown away. In the new biobank project, however, patients will be given a consent form to allow any “leftover” blood or tissue from their regular medical procedures to be stored in the biobank for research purposes.
Participation is voluntary, and no additional procedures will be performed or extra blood or tissues collected. To protect patient privacy, all identifying information (such as name, address and social security numbers) will be removed from the samples and corresponding medical records. Researchers who use the biobank will sign confidentiality agreements, and all biospecimen information will be stored in a secure database.
As a large, research-oriented academic medical center, UK is in a distinctive position to develop and leverage a biobank, and it will be unique in several ways. Many academic medical centers maintain smaller biobanks for DNA or particular diseases, and these biobanks are often proprietary to a specific research center and collect tissue only retroactively. For example, a biobank housed in a cancer research center will only collect cancer tissue, and that tissue sample will only be available to cancer researchers. Alternatively, UK’s biobank will be extensive, global, and prospective in nature.
“This is a unique biobank,” said Dr. Philip A. Kern, director of CCTS. “Other universities have freezers full of tissues, but we’re doing this in a more global fashion, upfront at registration, rather than in a retroactive, disease-specific fashion. This gives us more flexibility to get larger numbers of samples and get samples that we might not have thought about.”
Because of the large and diverse patient population at UK, the potential size and scope of the biobank is huge. In the initial phase of the roll out, which began on Nov. 4, only elective surgical patients are receiving biobank consent forms. All UK patients, both inpatient and outpatient, will begin receiving biobank consent forms by January 2014. UK HealthCare sees about 35,000 patient discharges annually, which could translate into a robust biobank of both healthy and non-healthy biospecimens of all varieties.
“We hope that most patients will agree to participate,” said Kern. “It’s an opportunity for people to give back and be a part of research in a way that doesn’t cost them anything, by donating tissue that would otherwise be thrown away.”
The global nature of the biobank applies not only to inclusion of the general patient population, but also to researcher access. Whereas other biobanks are often proprietary and only available to researchers within a specific research center, the UK biobank will be available to all UK researchers.
However, the Markey Cancer Center will be a primary beneficiary of the biobank because it will greatly increase the capacity of its existing cancer tissue bank. The next phases of the roll-out process for the biobank will be in the Markey outpatient clinic.
"As an National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, groundbreaking cancer research is a top priority for Markey, and the biobank will be a tremendous resource for our researchers to further develop and test their work," said Dr. Mark Evers, director of the UK Markey Cancer Center. "By allowing us to keep blood and tissue samples that would have otherwise been discarded, our patients are providing a way to improve cancer care for many of our patients in the future."
The sheer size of the biobank will allow an unprecedented degree of flexibility in biobanking. Since it will be impossible and unnecessary to keep and store all collected tissue, the biobank will respond to specific research goals and investigators’ needs. For example, if a researcher needs spinal fluid specimens for her study, the director of the biobank will be able to increase storage capacity for spinal fluid, along with targeted consenting of patients undergoing a spinal tap procedure in the course of their medical care.
CCTS spearheaded this project as part of its role to enhance the biomedical research capacity across the UK community. “It was logical for CCTS to do this because it enhances the university’s general research infrastructure,” said Kern. The development of such a large and responsive biobank will be an asset and catalyst to all biomedical research at UK, which could lead to improvements in care well beyond the UK patient population.
Ultimately, the biobank will facilitate better and more robust research to improve healthcare, not just in the field of cancer. “We have a lot of basic scientists doing work in animals and they need to figure out if the work has applicability to humans,” said Kern. “They need to be able to find tissues in order to answer that question.”
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