DeNardo Education and Research Foundation funds medical student research and cancer imaging project

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April 17, 2013 — Washington University in St. Louis has received two grants totaling $100,000 from the DeNardo Education and Research Foundation. The grants will support the DeNardo Summer Research Scholars program and a project titled “Unraveling the role of the Primovascular System in Cancer” under the direction of Samuel Achilefu, PhD, Professor of Radiology.

The first grant provides $50,000 to support five DeNardo Summer Research Scholars in 2013 and five in 2014. The students, who are designated DeNardo Summer Research Scholars, will be engaged in basic and clinical research during the summer following the first year of medical school. The program gives medical students hands-on laboratory research experience with outstanding investigators and helps prepare them for careers in academic medicine. Koong-Nah Chung, PhD, Director of the Office of Medical Student Research, has recruited more than 200 biomedical research scientists to serve as mentors.

The second grant provides $50,000 to investigate the role of the primovascular system, a new circulatory system that is distinct from the cardiovascular, lymphatic, and nervous systems.  The system has evaded detection until now. Its semi-transparent feature, minute size, and morphological similarity to the lymphatic system made it impossible to investigate with previous technologies. Using advanced cellular and molecular imaging techniques, Achilefu and his team will investigate the mechanism by which the primovascular system controls tumor survival and evades therapy. He suspects that the primovascular system may hold the key to cancer survival, metastasis, and resistance to treatment in the early stages of carcinogenesis by serving as an incubation site for tumor formation, propagation, sustenance, relapse, and evasion of the host defense system.