Wisconsin Cancer Researcher Wins Era of Hope Scholar Award
Carbone Cancer Center - For Researchers
Madison, Wisconsin - Dr. Wei Xu, assistant professor of oncology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is one of only three scientists in the country to have won the 2010 Era of Hope Scholar Award.
The award, from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Breast Cancer Research Program, supports individuals who have high potential for innovation in breast cancer research early in their careers. Based at the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research and a member of the UW Carbone Cancer Center, Xu will use the $3.6 million grant over five years to further her studies on estrogen receptors.
Estrogen receptors (ER) come in two forms - alpha and beta. ER-alpha promotes tumor growth while ER-beta blocks it. Drugs (such as tamoxifen and raloxifene) that are generally thought to target ER-alpha have been the standard treatment for breast cancer for years, but they don't work for all patients.
"I am intrigued to find out why the treatment fails and how we can target estrogen receptors differently to increase patient survival and reduce mortality," Xu says.
Xu has identified two naturally occurring compounds that selectively activate ER-beta. In one aim of the planned studies, she and her colleagues will evaluate the properties of these compounds to determine if they might prove effective in treating breast cancer.
"The DoD funding encourages high-risk, high-reward research," says Xu, adding that the DoD incorporates the valuable opinions of breast cancer survivors in its review process. "I can now focus on my long-term career goals of establishing major breast-cancer initiatives and expanding my leadership in the breast-cancer community."
Era of Hope scholars are considered the "best and brightest" in their field.
"The Era of Hope Award recognizes the highly innovative nature of Dr. Xu's research as well as its great potential to lead to new therapeutic approaches to treating breast cancer," says Dr. James Shull, chair of the Department of Oncology at the School of Medicine and Public Health and director of the McArdle Laboratory. "Dr. Xu's research will reveal novel insights into the mechanisms through which ER alpha and ER beta function and will lay the groundwork for improved clinical approaches to the treatment of breast cancer."
Date Published: 10/25/2010