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HI researchers further cancer research online

Scientists at The Hormel Institute continue their mission to accelerate answers to cancer despite the COVID-19 environment and inability to meet in person.

The 20+ section principle investigators, researchers and post docs meet virtually throughout each week via internal research seminars and other collaborative meetings. The switch to a remote work environment has meant a switch to virtual meetings for all of University of Minnesota and other cancer centers throughout the USA.

Finding creative solutions, this week marks the 11th digital internal seminar which furthers the weekly seminars that have been held at the Institute for several years. Cancer research leaders from The Hormel Institute have also been presenting their research at seminars hosted digitally by groups around the USA, as well as holding meetings and networking using various platforms.

“These seminars give us a chance to stay up to date with the work of our colleagues, hone our presentation skills, and find potential new research collaborations,” said Dr. Ilana Chefetz. Dr. Chefetz is also planning the Ovarian Cancer Midwest Focus Conference which will be held virtually in November.

Last year, The Hormel Institute hosted 49 seminars focused on research and professional development. Many seminars were presented by The Hormel Institute’s faculty and post-doctoral students, with the addition of frequent expert researchers from other cancer centers and departments invited to present and share knowledge.

Since the digital research seminars have started, Institute scientists have heard presentations from researchers at Yale University, Mayo Clinic, University of Chicago, University of Michigan, Wayne State University, and other University of Minnesota departments including Masonic Cancer Center.

The internal seminars are aimed at generating feedback on projects as well as fostering scientific collaborations and are an excellent opportunity for faculty and staff to stay updated with research conducted internally and beyond. In recent years, the scope of the seminars has widened to occasionally include professional development topics, but the primary focus continues to be on current research results and opportunities.

Communicating with other scientists is a critical part of research and faculty at The Hormel Institute regularly connect with their colleagues to further research through these important connections.

Cancer researchers at all levels from The Hormel Institute attended the virtual American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting, a large conference covering the latest in cancer research discoveries across all areas of cancer research. The conference draws over 20,000 people annually to share discoveries and new ideas, as well as connect with other researchers and forge future collaborations.

The Hormel Institute as part of University of Minnesota follows UMN guidelines and thus has remained opened throughout in a limited capacity, and now faculty and staff may spend up to 30 hours a week on site as needed. Large group meetings are not yet occurring and for the next few weeks at least, scientists will continue to meet and share their research virtually.

As part of the cancer research community, The Hormel Institute’s scientists have presented their discoveries via virtual seminars including:

• Dr. Sergio Gradilone:  Head of the Cancer Cell Biology and Translational Research lab moderated a conference section through the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation, and will  present his work “Ciliotherapy: The Primary Cilium as a Therapeutic Target in Carcinogenesis” at the next meeting of the Minnesota Chemoprevention Consortium online this month.

• Dr. Shujun Liu: Head of the Cancer Epigenetics and Experimental Therapeutics lab, gave a seminar for the Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Program Data Club at Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota titled “A Dynamic N6-methyladenosine Methylome Regulates Intrinsic and Acquired Drug Resistance.”

• Dr. Ilana Chefetz: Head of the Cancer Stem Cells and Necroptosis lab, presented four virtual seminars: “Novel targeted therapies in ovarian cancer” at Mayo Clinic; “ALDH inhibitors trigger cell programmed necrosis in ovarian Cancer Stem cells” at the Stem Cell Institute, University of Minnesota; “Novel targeted therapies in ovarian cancer” at the OBGYN Department, University of Minnesota; and “ALDH inhibitors trigger cell programmed necrosis in ovarian Cancer Stem cells” at Sanford Institute, Sioux Falls.

• Dr. Luke Hoeppner head of the Cancer Biology lab, presented his work “Molecular Regulation of Lung Cancer Growth and Therapeutic Resistance by DARPP-32” at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Tumor Biology Seminar Series at the University of Miami.