Great Minds Talk Cancer

Four of Purdue’s most prominent cancer research experts met in Wilmeth Active Learning Center’s Hiler Theatre on September 21, 2018 for the Biden Cancer Community Summit: Purdue’s Legacy in Cancer Research.

The four faculty members, all a part of the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research and the Purdue University College of Science, shared how their work is part of a universal solution in providing the latest advancements in the field.

Andrea Kasinski, assistant professor in biological sciences and 2017 American Cancer Society Research Scholar recipient, is using small RNAs in a therapeutic approach to target cancer cells.

Stephen Konieczny, professor and interim head of biological sciences, uses an engineering strategy to manipulate genes in cancer cells.

R. Graham Cooks, the Henry B. Hass Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry, is a pioneer in the field of mass spectrometry where he has developed instrumentation that gives surgeons a tool for real-time pathology in the operating room.

Philip S. Low, the Ralph C. Corley Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Presidential Scholar for Drug Discovery, is engineering compounds to carry treatments directly to cancer cells or to illuminate cancerous cells for surgical removal.

After individual presentations, the four faculty members formed a panel discussion moderated by Andrew Mesecar, head of the Department of Biochemistry and deputy director of the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research.

During the forum, all agreed that developing tools for early detection is paramount and Professor Philip Low believes Purdue’s culture of collaboration and interaction makes this a great place for cancer research.

“We don’t build silos quite as much as other universities do. We recognize that we’re not the sole repository of wisdom and so we can find really good ideas like Andrea’s and my collaboration. There’s no way on earth we could have achieved anywhere near what we’ve done working alone,” explained Low.
“We have great colleagues and we find each other’s research fascinating and interesting,” added Konieczny.

Purdue’s event was one of more than 450 community summits held across the country with participants from diverse sectors, disciplines, and backgrounds.
The Biden Cancer Community Summit is part of former Vice President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot initiative, which aims to maximize the global financial investment in cancer research and comprehensive care.

The event is part of Purdue University’s Ideas Festival, the centerpiece of Purdue’s Giant Leaps Sesquicentennial Campaign, which is a series of events that connects world-renowned speakers and Purdue expertise in a conversation on the most critical problems facing the world. One of the Ideas Festival’s themes is health and longevity.

The summit coincides with the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research’s 40th anniversary.

Purdue’s 150th anniversary also is celebrating the College of Science during September.

The college is home to the departments of biological sciences; chemistry; computer science; earth, atmospheric, and planetary sciences; mathematics; physics and astronomy; and statistics. Purdue Science is renowned for its top analytical chemistry graduate program, the No. 1 actuarial science program in the nation, strong a four-year graduation rate, two Nobel laureates in organic chemistry, groundbreaking discoveries in Zika virus research and an astronaut currently aboard the International Space Station.
Steve Scherer, Purdue Chemistry

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