News & Events
Dr. Eva Feldman headlines Nov. 7 Jewish Working Women Series event
Jewish Working Women Series Fall Program
Taubman Institute Director Dr. Eva Feldman will be the featured speaker at the Nov. 7 session hosted by the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. Dr. Feldman will discuss the challenges and rewards of her 30-plus years as both a practicing physican and accomplished scientific researcher.
The breakfast and networking event runs from 7:30-9:30 a.m. and will take place at the Holocaust Memorial in Farmington Hills. Cost is $10.
Click here for more information and registration details.
Fall-Winter Visiting Professor lineup features experts in lung, muscle and nerve disorders
The Fall 2013 schedule of Taubman Institute Visiting Professor Lectures, which are held in conjunction with departments of the University of Michigan Medical School, features distinguished scientists from institutions around the world, who have been invited by Taubman Scholars and other faculty members to address the U-M community.
Visiting Professor Lectures are generally held monthly and represent the Taubman Institute's ongoing commitment to furthering translational medical research by creating opportunities for the most talented physician-researchers to exchange knowledge and ideas.
Upcoming events in 2013 include:
Oct. 17: Jann Sarkaria, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic, whose research targets the fatal brain tumor glioblastoma.
Oct: 21: Kurt Stenmark, M.D., a pediatric pulmonology expert from the University of Colorado Denver.
Oct. 23 Andrew Mammen, M.D., Ph.D., whose research targets muscle diseases such as myositis, from the Johns HopkinsSchool of Medicine.
Mar. 19, 2014 Steven A. Goldman M.D., Ph.D., an expert in neurodegenerative diseases from the University of Rochester Medical Center.
More information about each lecture will be posted as it becomes available.
Click here to view video interviews of past visiting professors.
Michigan Daily reports on Taubman Institute's Sixth Annual Symposium
Michigan Daily Staff Reporter
October 12th, 2013
On Friday, the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute presented their $100,000 Taubman Prize to a pair of cancer scientists for their research into chronic myeloid leukemia.
Brain Druker, director of the Knight Cancer Institute at the Oregon Health and Sciences University, and Charles Sawyers, chair of the human oncology and pathogenesis program at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, were the recipients of this year’s grant, which was presented at a ceremony in the Taubman Institute’s Kahn Auditorium inside the Biomedical Science Research Building.
The event drew a crowd of about 200 people, including many researchers and physicians from the institute. Important leaders from the University of Michigan Health System were also present, including CEO Ora Pescovitz, the University’s executive vice president of medical affairs; and real estate developer A. Alfred Taubman, the namesake of the institute.
Pescovitz, who delivered opening remarks, said the recipients embody the slogan of the institute — “where scientists create cures” — because both have used their knowledge of basic biological mechanisms to develop real-world treatments for patients with CML.
“The driving passion behind the Taubman Institute is to support translational research,” Pescovitz said. “That is research that translates discoveries from the bench to the bedside — into practical applications for patients afflicted by diseases.”
Since the institute’s founding in 2007, researchers have initiated 50 clinical trials — including 19 this year alone, Pescovitz said.
“The Taubman Prize is Alfred (Taubman’s) innovateive way to foster the development of this kind of life-saving research all around the world,” Pescovitz said. “This is truly an extraordinary celebration of science and the remarkable scientists at the Taubman Institute.”
Chronic myeloid leukemia is a cancer that affects human white blood cells and it currently represents 15 to 20 percent of all leukemia cases, Druker said.
Prior to the 2000s, CML was almost always fatal, with most patients given a 3 to 5 year life expectancy after being diagnosed. Through their research, Druker and Sawyers have turned CML into a treatable condition — with a 90 percent remission rate in current patients.
“It’s truly an inspiring story about understanding the mechanisms of a disease at a molecular level and how it plays out in patients,” Pescovitz said. “The discovery of (this) new treatment has really become a miracle drug.”
After receiving their awards from Taubman, both researchers were given the opportunity to present their work and ideas to the audience.
Molecular mechanisms soon became a theme of both presentations. While translational research is ultimately aimed at treating patients, both Druker and Sawyers said understating the molecular mechanism allows faster and more accurate development of drugs.
“Our task for the 21st century is to get to a point where we understand all of these molecular pathogenic events,” Druker said.
Druker’s talk focused on the development of the CML drug, Gleevec, while Sawyers spoke of the challenges associated with drug resistance. Both men addressed the scientific methods behind their work, but also called for changes in the process of drug development moving forward.
From diagnosis of the underlying condition to drug treatment, Gleevec took approximately 40 years to develop, Druker said, which is much too long for many patients who can only survive a few years with the disease. Moving forward, he added that there need to be faster methods in place to allow new drugs to receive approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — the federal agency that regulates the development and testing of pharmaceuticals.
Sawyers, who referenced the FDA as a “friend” of research, placed the greatest emphasis on the need for reform of the pharmaceutical business model. In particular, he said companies are not incentivized to research combination drugs, which can potentially interact and prove more effective than individual treatment regimens.
While neither researcher could suggest a specific plan for reform when questioned, both agreed the regulations and incentive structure for pharmaceutical companies needs to be changed in order to allow for faster development of therapies. By incorporating these changes with a greater understanding of the molecular basis for disease, the researchers hope to cut the time required to bring a treatment to market.
“We treat our patients one at a time, we treat our diseases one at a time, but pretty soon it all starts to add up, with lots more patients surviving and thriving despite a diagnosis cancer,” Druker concluded.
First two patients treated at U-M in ALS stem cell trial
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Two patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) have received stem cell injections to their spinal cords at the University of Michigan Health System – the first two to receive the experimental injections in Michigan as part of a national clinical trial.
Both research volunteers have returned home and will receive follow-up monitoring and testing to help U-M researchers assess the safety and any potential effect of the injections.
Additional patients with the condition, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, are being evaluated for possible participation in the trial at U-M and Emory University.
The Phase II trial is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and funded by Neuralstem, Inc., the Maryland-based company whose stem-cell product the trial is testing. It seeks to study any effect that injected stem cells might have on motor neurons – muscle-controlling nerve cells that die in ALS patients, eventually robbing them of the ability to walk, speak and breathe.
Eva L. Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., the Russell N. DeJong professor of neurology at the U-M Medical School and director of the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute, is the principal investigator for the trial. Feldman serves as an unpaid consultant to the company, and has led the analysis of results from the Phase I trial which concluded in 2012.
In data presented earlier this year, spinal cord injections of up to 100,000 cells were delivered safely and tolerated well in a Phase I trial conducted at Emory. The researchers reported possible signs that in one subgroup of participants, ALS progression may have been interrupted.
“We’re going to be permitted to give more injections and more stem cells, in Phase 2,” said Feldman. “We’re very excited that we have been able to bring this important work to the University of Michigan.”
Parag Patil, M.D., Ph.D., a U-M neurosurgeon and biomedical engineer, performed both operations on the U-M trial participants. In each case, the patient’s spinal column was unroofed and the spinal cord exposed to receive the cells. The cells are introduced via a custom-designed delivery device that is affixed to the subject’s spinal bones so that it moves with the patient’s breathing throughout the process.
Patil, an assistant professor in U-M’s departments of Neurosurgery, Neurology, Biomedical Engineering and Anesthesiology, and a Young Friends of the Taubman Institute Emerging Scholar, also serves as a paid engineering consultant to Neuralstem to further develop the cell-delivery device.
A third participant in the Phase II trial received the same surgery in September at Emory University in Atlanta, the other site for the trial.
This Phase II dose escalation trial is designed to treat up to 15 ambulatory patients in five different dosing cohorts, under an accelerated dosing and treatment schedule.
The first 12 patients, divided into four cohorts, will receive injections only in the cervical region of the spinal cord, where breathing function is controlled. The first cohort of three patients received 10 cervical region injections of 200,000 cells per injection. The trial will now progress to a maximum of 20 cervical injections of up to 400,000 cells per injection.
The last three Phase II patients will receive injections in both the cervical and the lumbar spinal regions. These patients will receive 20 injections of 400,000 cells each in the lumbar region in addition to the 20 injections they will already have received in their cervical region.
The trial also accelerates the treatment schedule, and is designed to progress at the rate of one cohort per month with one month observations periods between cohorts. Researchers expect all of the patients could be treated by the end of the second quarter in 2014.
Patients seeking information on the trial should contact the relevant center. For the University of Michigan Health System, please visit: http://www.umclinicalstudies.org/HUM00072488. For Emory Healthcare, please call (404) 778-7777.
For more information on ALS treatment and research at the U-M Health System, visit http://umhealth.me/UM-ALS .
Noted Mayo Clinic researcher to deliver Oct. 17 Visiting Professor lecture
Dr. Jann N. Sarkaria, a radiation oncologist at the Mayo Clinic whose research targets the fatal brain tumor glioblastoma, will speak in Ann Arbor on Oct. 17 as part of the Taubman Instittute's Visting Professor program.
Dr. Sarkaria's laboratory research is focused on developing novel radiosensitizing strategies for the treatment of glioblastoma. Studies in the Sarkaria laboratory demonstrated that concurrent treatment with rapamycin can significantly enhance the efficacy of radiation therapy, and these studies have led to the development of a clinical trial that will evaluate this combination in newly diagnosed patient with GBM. Other studies in the laboratory are focused on understanding the potential benefit of EGFR inhibitors in combination with radiation therapy and evaluating mechanisms of sensitivity and resistance to temozolomide when combined with radiation. Dr. Sarkaria also is interested in imaging drug induced changes in tumor proliferation as a method for rapidly identifying those patients who are benefiting from a particular novel therapeutic strategy.
The title of his Oct. 17 talk is "The impact of the blood-brain barrier on limiting therapeutic efficacy in GBM." It is presented by the Taubman Institute in conjunction with the U-M Medical School's Dept. of Radiation Oncology and will take place from 7:45-8:30 a.m. in Conference Room B2C430.
Michigan Daily: Dr. Eva Feldman offers update on ALS stem cell trial
By Ian Dillingham, The Michigan Daily
Researchers at University Hospital and the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute are exploring the use of stem cells in the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — also known as Lou Gerhig’s disease, a neurodegenerative condition that causes cell death in spinal cord neurons that control movement. Patients with ALS suffer from loss of muscle control and often die of respiratory failure.
Neurology Prof. Eva Feldman presented recent results from her research at an event Wednesday evening at the Taubman Institute’s Kahn Auditorium for an audience of about 40 students and faculty. Feldman discussed the completion of Phase I trials of the new stem-cell therapy and her plans for Phase II.
While Phase I trials typically test the safety of a treatment in human patients, Phase II tests the treatment’s efficacy. Feldman’s research team received approval for Phase II of their research in May and has since begun tests.
Shortly before the event Wednesday afternoon, a third patient enrolled in the trial had the surgical procedure, in which a surgeon injects stem cells into specific regions of the spinal cord. Although it is too early to record changes in disease progression, Feldman said the three patients have experienced “no adverse consequences” from the procedure.
Click here to read the entire Michigan Daily article.
Research by Taubman Scholar Dr. Arul Chinnaiyan leads to new early test for prostate cancer
U-M offers new early detection test for prostate cancer
Mi-Prostate Score test improves on PSA for predicting cancer
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — More than 1 million men will undergo a prostate biopsy this year, but only about one-fifth of those biopsies will result in a cancer diagnosis.
The reason is that the traditional prostate cancer screening test – a blood test to measure prostate specific antigen, or PSA – does not give doctors a complete picture.
Now, the University of Michigan Health System has begun offering a new urine test called Mi-Prostate Score to improve on PSA screening for prostate cancer. The test incorporates three specific markers that could indicate cancer and studies have shown that the combination is far more accurate than PSA alone.
“Many more men have elevated PSA than actually have cancer but it can be difficult to determine this without biopsy. We need new tools to help patients and doctors make better decisions about what to do if serum PSA is elevated. Mi-Prostate Score helps with this,” says Scott Tomlins, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology and urology at the University of Michigan.
Researchers validated the new test on nearly 2,000 urine samples. Mi-Prostate Score, or MiPS, was significantly more accurate than PSA alone for predicting cancer as well as predicting aggressive prostate cancer that is likely to grow and spread quickly.
Mi-Prostate Score developed from a discovery in the lab of Arul Chinnaiyan, M.D., Ph.D., in 2005 of a genetic anomaly that occurs in about half of all prostate cancers, an instance of two genes changing places and fusing together.
This gene fusion, T2:ERG, is believed to cause prostate cancer. Studies in prostate tissues show that the gene fusion almost always indicates cancer.
The new urine test looks for the T2:ERG fusion as well as another marker, PCA3. This is combined with serum PSA measure to produce a risk assessment for prostate cancer. The test also predicts risk for having an aggressive tumor, helping doctors and patients make decisions about whether to wait and monitor test levels or pursue immediate biopsy.
“This combination test is not designed to say definitively at diagnosis whether a man has aggressive prostate cancer, but it can provide a more accurate estimate of the likelihood of having cancer and the likelihood of that cancer being aggressive,” Tomlins says.
The test is available to anyone but requires a request from a doctor. For further information, call the University of Michigan’s MLabs at 800-862-7284.
Prostate cancer statistics: 238,590 Americans will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year and 29,720 will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society
Disclosure: The University of Michigan has been issued a patent on the detection of ETS gene fusions in prostate cancer, on which Tomlins and Chinnaiyan are listed as co-inventors. The diagnostic field of use has been licensed to Hologic. Chinnaiyan has served as a consultant to Hologic.
Source: The University of MIchigan Health System
Taubman Institute to appoint six new scholars in 2014
Six new Taubman Scholars -- clinician-scientists selected from among the University of Michigan Medical School faculty -- will be appointed in 2014 by the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute.
Taubman Scholar grants provide $150,000 per year for three years for these select physician researchers, who combine an active clinical practice with basic laboratory science seeking new treatments and cures for the diseases they treat. The grants are intended to fund the "high risk, high reward" research that often is overlooked by traditional sources of financial support. In the five years since the institute's inception, the research of Taubman Scholars and Taubman Emerging Scholars has led to nearly three dozen human clinical trials of new drugs and therapies for diseases ranging from cancer to muscular dystrophy to ALS.
Prospective scholars must hold an M.D. degree and have until Dec. 1 to complete the application form, which will be vetted by the institute's scientific advisory board, a panel comprised of eminent medical scientsists from outside the university. Click here for complete details and the application form.
Taubman Institute Symposium to take place Oct. 11 in Ann Arbor
The A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute presents its sixth annual symposium, featuring the presentation of the $100,000 Taubman Prize by Mr. A. Alfred Taubman, from 10 a.m. to noon on Oct. 11. The event takes place in the Kahn Auditorium of the A. Alfred Taubman Biomedical Science Research Building on the University of Michigan campus.
The co-recipients of the Taubman Prize, Dr. Brian Druker and Dr. Charles Sawyers, will deliver keynote addresses about their live-saving research that transformed chronic myeloid leukemia from an always-fatal disease to a manageable condition. A poster session will precede the symposium beginning at 8:30 a.m. No registration is required; both events are free and open to the general public.
Click here for directions to the A. Alfred Taubman Biomedical Science Research Building.
Fox 2 news report features Dr. Eva Feldman and a stem cell trial patient
The Detroit affiliate of Fox News recently aired an interview with Dr. Eva Feldman and others associated with the groundbreaking trial of a stem cell therapy for ALS. Dr. Feldman is the principal investigator of the trial, which recently received FDA approval to move to Phase 2.
Click here to watch the Fox 2 Detroit video.
New Taubman Prize trophy debuts
The new trophy for the Taubman Prize for Excellence in Translational Medical Research, which was designed in consultation with institute founder Mr. A. Alfred Taubman, was presented at the institute's Oct. 11 symposium. The modern sculpture was created using a novel 3D printing technique.
Call for applications
Taubman Institute to offer six new scholar grants
The institute is accepting applications through Dec. 1 for its flagshop Taubman Scholar grant program, which is open to clinician-scientists on the U-M Medical School Faculty. Grants are $150,000 per year for three years.
Click here for details
U-M offers new early detection prostate cancer test
Research by Taubman Scholar Dr. Arul Chinnaiyan has let to the development of a new test for prostate cancer that is far more accurate than the standard PSA test, the University of Michigan has announced.
Click here to read more.
news & events
Is there a link between tonsils and psoriasis?
Trial tested the effect of tonsillectomy on the skin disease
Taubman Emerging Scholar Dr. Johann Gudjonsson and colleagues found that people who had their tonsils removed showed improvment.
Click here to read the entire story
Fall Visiting Professor Lectures schedule
Distinguished guest speakers include experts in lung, muscle and nerve diseases
Click here for the lineup
Breast cancer clinical trial enrolling patients
Research by Taubman Scholar Dr. Max Wicha into breast cancer stem cells is the basis for a new human clinical trial of the drug Reparixin, which scientists hope will curb the growth of the tumor-fueling cells.