Connections - March 2013

Thu, 04/11/2013
Roswellness Connections
A Message from the President
Dr. Donald Trump

Support for RPCI - Thank You Gov. Cuomo and NYS Legislators

The final New York State budget approved for 2013-14 clearly demonstrates ongoing support for the mission of Roswell Park Cancer Institute.  With this final budget, the state maintains its current levels of funding for RPCI capital expenditures and operations, and restored several line items in other New York State budgetary areas previously in jeopardy that were dedicated to cancer screening and tobacco-control programs. 

We especially want to thank Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Western New York legislative delegation for recognizing, with this budget, the significant role RPCI plays in finding cures and saving lives as a nationally acclaimed cancer research, treatment and education center.

Backed by the support of our elected officials, we are now very excited about the many positive developments surrounding our new Clinical Sciences Center, plans for which were approved by the state earlier this year, and the many benefits that will flow to our patients as a result.

Groundbreaking for the Center - marking the first new construction on the RPCI campus since 2007 - is scheduled for April 18. Just the sign of more big things to come for Roswell Park!

-Donald L. Trump, MD, FACP
President & CEO

Institute News

Groundbreaking Set for Clinical Sciences Center

With state approval for the project now in place, plans for the Clinical Sciences Center are proceeding quickly. Groundbreaking has been slated for Thursday, April 18. The facility, which will be adjacent to the main RPCI hospital and linked to it by connecting bridges, will house a new, larger Chemotherapy Clinic; a Breast Center that will for the first time offer community mammography services; and a Patient Education/Survivorship Center for Roswell Park’s 31,000 patients and their families.

Dr. Guru, Colleagues Develop Curriculum to Safely Train Robotic Surgeons

Looking to provide a safe and effective way to train surgeons on the fundamentals of robot-assisted surgery, Khurshid Guru, MD, Director of Robotic Surgery at RPCI, and colleagues at four institutions, including the University at Buffalo, developed and tested a new and unique simulation-based training curriculum. The importance of consistent and complete training with the robotic surgical instrument cannot be overstated, Dr. Guru notes – especially of late, as high-profile media outlets including the New York Times have reported on concerns over insufficient training of robotic surgeons at some facilities. 

Roswell Park Faculty Member Earns $250K Toward Down Syndrome Research

Roswell Park researcher Y. Eugene Yu, PhD, received a $250,000 grant from The Children’s Guild Foundation to support his efforts to identify the major causative genes for Down syndrome-associated developmental and intellectual disabilities. Individuals with Down syndrome also have an increased risk of developing childhood leukemia.

Donor Dollars at Work

Exploring Genetic Markers to Improve Breast Cancer Treatment

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States and is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be more than 230,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer in women this year.

One of the most effective drugs for the most common type of breast cancer is tamoxifen, which markedly cuts the likelihood of cancer recurrence and death.  However, approximately 30% of breast cancer patients do not respond to tamoxifen treatment and of those who have an initial response, 30-40% will eventually experience disease relapse.

Thanks to generous donations to RPCI, researchers Song Yao PhD, Assistant Professor of Oncology in the Department of Cancer Prevention and Control, and Qianqian Zhu PhD, Assistant Professor of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, recently launched a preliminary study to uncover genetic markers that may predict whether a patient will benefit from tamoxifen or not, prior to the start of the treatment.  This concept, called personalized medicine, uses biomedical information that is unique to an individual to guide important healthcare decisions.

In this study, Drs. Yao and Zhu are screening the whole human genome using blood samples housed in RPCI’s Data Bank and BioRepository (DBBR) in search of potential new predictive markers. The DBBR has an extensive collection of blood samples from newly diagnosed patients, patients who are post-treatment, patient family members and volunteers who have agreed to enroll for the benefit of research.

“This study will be an important first step to provide support for a later large study to fully tackle this research question,” said Dr. Yao. “The ultimate goal is to provide a new and reliable genetic testing that can guide the use of tamoxifen for many women diagnosed with breast cancer.”

Dr. Yao joined the faculty of the Department of Cancer Prevention and Control in 2010. To learn more about his work, visit

Dr. Zhu joined the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics in 2012. For more information about her work, visit

In the Community

Workshop Offers Students Glimpse of Careers in STEM

Roswell Park recently played host to 45 young women from Buffalo public schools who visited our campus to participate in a Women in STEM event highlighting career opportunities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The half-day workshop was organized by RPCI's Office of Diversity & Inclusion and Department of Education.  

The students toured Roswell Park's Center for Personalized Medicine, saw a demonstration of robotic surgical technology and visited the University at Buffalo Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics & Life Sciences, and heard presentations from four RPCI employees: Sharon Evans, PhD, Professor of Oncology in the Department of Immunology; Nicole Powell, a clinical laboratory technologist with the Therapeutic Cell Production Facility; Elisa Rodriguez, PhD, Assistant Professor of Oncology in the Department of Cancer Prevention & Population Sciences/Director of Community Engagement Resources; and Stacey Willard, PhD, a post-doctoral associate with the Department of Cancer Genetics. Several students signed up for internship, volunteer and shadowing opportunities at Roswell Park during their visit. 

The Cancer Experts

Roswell Park faculty members regularly share their expertise with major national media outlets and oncology publications. Some recent examples:

Dr. Grace Dy to MedPage Today:(A New England Journal of Medicine study’s key finding) does not mean that ERCC1 itself is totally useless, (but) it is a reminder to us that getting a biomarker validated and tested is a tortuous and difficult path."

Dr. Kirsten Moysich to Medscape Medical News: “This study provides credible evidence of a role for aspirin in the chemoprevention of melanoma, and adds to the existing body of research that implicates aspirin use in the prevention of tumors, including colon, breast, ovary, and lung cancers.”

Dr. William Cance to Reuters Health: “We found much greater sensitivity with 4D-CT compared with the sestamibi SPECT, to the point where we really don't use the sestamibi data anymore.”

Sponsor Spotlight

City Mattress

Jay Schiller

In 1964, founder Jay Schiller opened his first City Mattress location in Buffalo with a handful of mattresses and one guiding principle: treat people the way you want to be treated. Nearly 50 years and 20 stores later, the company continues to stay true to that premise. That kindness also translates to their corporate giving philosophy and last month, for the fourth year in a row, City Mattress donated a portion of the proceeds from their spring mattress sale to help RPCI find cures and save lives. In total, more than $50,000 has been raised.

“We are so proud to be able to support Roswell Park - an outstanding cancer center right in our community,” said Schiller, who is pictured here. “Western New Yorkers have been so good to my family and our business and we are grateful to be in a position where we can give back.”

In addition to the annual in-store promotion, City Mattress supports Roswell Park in other ways including providing funding for its new Clinical Sciences Center, the first new construction on the RPCI campus since 2007. 
Groundbreaking for the building will begin April 18, 2013.

Watch a video featuring Jay’s son, Marc, president of City Mattress, talking about their support of Roswell Park here:

For more information about City Mattress, please visit

Events and Promotions

The Ride For Roswell 2013

Registration for The Ride For Roswell 2013 is open, and routes are filling up quickly. The maximum number of riders for each route will be capped this year to ensure a safe and enjoyable ride, so don’t delay – register today for the event, to be held June 21 (Opening Ceremony) and June 22 (The Ride)!

Looking for another way to be a part of this unforgettable weekend? The Ride is in need of volunteers and fans to cheer on the riders. Volunteers are needed for route guides, riding marshals and at the starting and finish lines. Learn more about these opportunities here.

Dunkin’ Donuts Coupon Books

Dunkin’ Donuts’ “Cups for Roswell” coupon books have returned! Dunkin’ will offer limited quantities of individual, one-month coupon books for $12.50 valid for a FREE cup of medium coffee, tea or iced coffee. The books are on sale ONLY in the Roswell Park Gift Shop now through end of June. Click here for more info.

New Era “beLIeVE” Caps

Support Roswell Park in style with a blue version of the New Era “beLIeVE” cap! 

New Era, an international lifestyle brand, created the “beLIeVE” cap for Roswell Park as part of its commitment to help raise awareness and funds to find a cancer cure.

The cap is available in a stretch fit 39THIRTY, knit, adjustable and kids version. The caps can be purchased at New Era’s flagship store, located at 160 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, and the Roswell Park Gift Shop. Select styles can be purchased on the New Era website.

Proceeds from the sale of the caps will be donated to support the cutting-edge research and patient care programs at Roswell Park. Learn more about the “beLIeVE” collection here.

Paint Box Project for All Occasions

The Paint Box Project now offers a wide variety of products for your every event need, including birthdays, graduation, baby showers, anniversaries, wedding and more! All cards and merchandise are customizable, one-of-a-kind creations.

Each design created by Roswell Park pediatric patients and their families is available to purchase as invitations, save-the-dates, favors, napkins and more.

For each Paint Box Project item purchased, a portion of the product sales will support compassionate patient care programs at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

To view the Paint Box Project lines, please visit and click on either “Wedding Line” or “Showers and Flowers.” New this year, there is a free “Pick Up” option at checkout!

RPCI in the News
Roswellness Radio

Missed our radio broadcasts? Conversations about all aspects of cancer are just a click away. Check out our most recent podcasts:

You Should Know

Colon Cancer: The Second-Leading Cause of Cancer Death in the U.S.

If you’re over age 50, be sure to make some time to call your healthcare provider to discuss scheduling your cancer screening test - and ask to make it a colonoscopy.  Long considered the gold standard for colon cancer screening, a new study adds more support for the test, finding that it reduces risk for advanced colorectal cancer by 70 percent. The study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Other screening tests, such as fecal occult blood test, which detects traces of blood in the stool, and sigmoidoscopy, which examines the inside of the rectum and left side of colon for abnormalities, are still associated with reduced risk of death from colorectal cancer. But colonoscopy, which examines the entire colon, both right and left sides, can detect early-stage cancers and precancerous polyps (and remove them) before they progress to an advanced stage.

 "Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. and early detection dramatically increases survival,” says Steven N. Hochwald, MD, FACS, Professor of Oncology and Chief of Gastrointestinal Surgery. “Colonoscopy can detect nearly 100 percent of colorectal tumors at an early stage. Please do yourself and your family a favor by getting screened."

Eating Too Many Hot Dogs May Shorten Life?

If eating hot dogs, sausages, bacon, ham, bologna and other processed meats are a steady part of your daily diet, you may be flirting with an early death. Consider this: In a study of more than 450,000 people, those who ate the most processed meats (160 grams per day) had a 44% higher risk for early death than those who ate the least processed meats (10 to 20 grams per day). The study, published in the online journal BMC Medicine, didn’t establish a direct cause-and-effect link, but the findings are food for thought.

Although many people understand that there’s nothing nutritionally beneficial in a hot dog, what’s the problem with these meats? Several factors may come into play, among them:

  • Processed meats are treated with nitrates, linked to colorectal and stomach cancer risk
  • Meats’ high cholesterol and saturated fats contribute to coronary heart disease
  • High iron intake from meats may increase cancer risk
  • People who eat large amounts of meat tend to eat fewer fruits and vegetables and are more likely to smoke and drink more heavily

“This study isn’t a message to never eat hot dogs or other processed meats, but rather serves as a reminder of the importance of focusing on a healthy diet, eating less nutritious foods in moderation and maintaining energy balance through regular physical activity,” says Martin Mahoney, MD, PhD, Director of the Cancer Prevention & Detection Center. “A more important health behavior is avoiding use of tobacco by never starting or by quitting!”