Noted childhood cancer researchers to meet in San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO (Feb. 19, 2009) – About 100 scientists from noted cancer centers will gather in downtown San Antonio Feb. 26-27 to share findings and exchange ideas at the Genetics and Biology of Childhood Cancer 2009 symposium. It is the first scientific meeting sponsored by The Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

“It’s fitting that we mark our fifth anniversary as a scientific institute by hosting our first national meeting,” notes the institute’s interim director, Gail Tomlinson, M.D., professor of pediatrics and the Greehey Distinguished Chair in Genetics of Cancer. “At its dedication on Feb. 24, 2004, when the Greehey institute became only the second pediatric cancer research center in the nation, a commitment was made before a crowd of hundreds. Scientists here promised to hold symposia to exchange knowledge with other pediatric cancer researchers. This month’s meeting honors that commitment.”

The Greehey institute was established with generous public funding, $200 million from the state of Texas tobacco settlement, which represented the largest single oncology endowment in the nation’s history. That public support drives the institute’s mission to advance scientific knowledge relevant to childhood cancer and to accelerate the translation of knowledge into novel therapies.

“There’s no commercial market to pay the high cost of creating drugs for cancers that may strike only a few hundred children a year,” says Dr. Tomlinson. “If centers like ours don’t develop the drugs, no one will.”

Programming for the two-day meeting will focus on recent advances in the following four areas.
Genetics & Epidemiology. Advances in genomic technology have led to increasing recognition of the role of predisposition in pediatric cancer. Ethnicity, family history and developmental anomalies work together to define cancer risks.
Animal Models, Genes & Pathways. Fundamental properties of tumors, such as signaling pathways, are being uncovered at a rapid rate using exciting approaches with genetic model organisms.
Genomic Instability & DNA Repair. When cells’ defense mechanisms are absent, scientists frequently discover genomic instability and cancer predisposition. Because many cancer treatments damage DNA, it’s important to understand how normal and cancer cells repair themselves, or not.
Disease Models & Pre-Clinical Studies. Carefully designed animal models reveal interesting drug targets. The development of novel treatment regimens can be accelerated by integrating basic science, in vivo studies and the National Cancer Institute Pediatric Preclinical Testing Program.

To learn more about “Genetics and Biology of Childhood Cancer 2009,” and to register, visit Questions? Call Danette Besancon, 562-9164.


The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is the leading research institution in South Texas and one of the major health sciences universities in the world. With an operating budget of $668 million, the Health Science Center is the chief catalyst for the $16.3 billion biosciences and health care sector in San Antonio’s economy. The Health Science Center has had an estimated $36 billion impact on the region since inception and has expanded to six campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. More than 24,000 graduates (physicians, dentists, nurses, scientists and other health professionals) serve in their fields, including many in Texas. Health Science Center faculty are international leaders in cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, aging, stroke prevention, kidney disease, orthopedics, research imaging, transplant surgery, psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, pain management, genetics, nursing, dentistry and many other fields. For more information, visit

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