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Visiting researcher to present 'The Cancer Epigenome'

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

LAWRENCE – The University Of Kansas Department Of Molecular Biosciences welcomes Dr. Peter A. Jones to present “The Cancer Epigenome” at 1:45 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20, in the Woodruff Auditorium of the Kansas Union.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

Jones will present the 30th John C. Davis Memorial Lecture. He has spent a career uncovering the basic mechanisms of DNA methylation and the role this process plays in cancer. His laboratory discovered how the compound, 5-azacytidine, can induce changes in gene expression and acts as a powerful DNA methylation inhibitor. Jones’ collaborative research has led to delineating molecular pathways in the development of bladder cancer and to the realization that DNA methylation sites are hotspots for cancer-causing mutations and that epigenetic silencing plays a major role in carcinogenesis. This work led to the isolation of the first mammalian determination gene and to the discovery of tumor suppressor genes that are epigenetically silenced in human cancer. 5-azacytadine has been approved for use in treatment of myelodysplastic syndrome.

Jones received his doctorate from the University of London in 1973 and is currently a Distinguished Professor of Urology and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and the Sawyer Chair in Cancer Research at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. He served as the director of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center from 1993 to 2011. He is the author of more than 300 journal publications and book chapters, and he serves on several national and international committees, panels and editorial boards. He is the past president of the American Association for Cancer Research. He has received several honors, including the Outstanding Investigator Grant from the National Cancer Institute, shared the Kirk A. Landon Award for Basic Cancer Research from the AACR in 2009 and the Medal of Honor from the American Cancer Society in 2011 with Stephen Baylin. He helped establish the International Human Epigenome consortium and co-directs a Stand-Up-to-Cancer dream team developing new cancer treatments.

The memorial lecture is given in honor of a former KU colleague, Dr. John C. Davis. Davis joined the KU faculty in 1976 after completing a doctorate at Pennsylvania State University and postdoctoral studies at Johns Hopkins University. His research focused on the behavior, morphogenesis, and hormone stimulation of rat testicular cells in vitro. He was a fine teacher, a creative and energetic researcher, and an inspiration to students and colleagues. In his third year at KU he was diagnosed with malignant melanoma and after a brave struggle over many months, he died in 1979 at the age of 33. Davis’ friends and colleagues established the John C. Davis Memorial Lecture Series in 1980 as a way to celebrate the fact that he made a difference in lives.