Thursday, May 8, 2008

Distinguished Cancer Researchers Arrive at the University of Albany

Prostate cancer specialist Martin Tenniswood and breast cancer researcher JoEllen Welsh join faculty at School of Public Health, Gen*NY*Sis Center for Excellence in Cancer Genomics

Cancer researchers Martin Tenniswood and JoEllen Welsh have joined the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University at Albany-SUNY's School of Public Health from the University of Notre Dame as the Empire Innovations Professors of Biomedical Sciences. Tenniswood and Welsh will join the Gen*NY*Sis Center for Excellence in Cancer Genomics as researchers.

The Empire Innovation program aims to boost economic development and research competitiveness across New York State by enabling SUNY's university centers and doctoral campuses to hire investigators in areas in which the University is already demonstrating national and international strength. The program was instrumental in recruiting both professors from Notre Dame.

Tenniswood and Welsh have focused their research on improving current hormone therapies for prostate, breast and endometrial cancers. Their goal is to obtain a better understanding of the development of hormone-resistant disease, which ultimately leads to the death of the patient. Their approach has been to clone, and characterize the expression of a number of apoptosis-related genes that are involved in prostate and mammary gland regression.

The laboratories for Tenniswood and Welsh are located in the University's Gen*NY*Sis Center for Excellence in Cancer Genomics at the Cancer Research Center. The Center combines UAlbany research expertise in genomics and biomedical sciences with state-of-the-art technology in a 113,000 square-foot facility. The Center hosts scientists committed to discovering the genetic origins of cancer and who conduct research into finding a cure for the disease. It is part of New York State's Generating Employment Through New York Science (Gen*NY*Sis) program, a $500 million initiative in government and private investment, spearheaded by Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno. Its goal is to lure new life science industries to the state and make New York a leader in creating science and technology jobs.

"The appointment of Drs. Tenniswood and Welsh to the School of Public Health and Gen*NY*Sis Center for Excellence in Cancer Genomics is just one more sign of the maturation of the Center since its inception in 2005," said Interim President George M. Philip. "I would like to thank Senator Bruno for his vision for the Cancer Center and Dr. Paulette McCormick and Dean Philip Nasca for bringing such distinguished, world-class researchers to our campus."

"The East Campus, along with its School of Public Health and Gen*NY*Sis Cancer Research Center, continues to serve as a magnet to attract the best and brightest researchers from around the world," said Senator Bruno. "I commend the University at Albany, most especially President Philip, Dr. McCormick and Dean Nasca for bringing two of the foremost leaders in cancer research to the Capital Region to further their work in developing innovative technology in the fight against cancer."

"It is a pleasure to welcome such fine scientists as Drs. Tenniswood and Welsh to the University and to the School, joining the ranks of top researchers here in the fields of bioterrorism, emerging diseases, and health policy," said School of Public Health Dean Nasca. "Their arrival strengthens our programs and research for undergraduate and graduate students in the field of biological sciences and cancer studies."

"Martin Tenniswood and JoEllen Welsh are well-established leaders in their fields," said McCormick, director of the Gen*NY*Sis center. "As senior researchers, they will help mentor a strong core group of young scientists and students and help steer the Cancer Research Center so that the discoveries we make here can quickly be translated into information that directly helps patients."

Welsh, an expert in steroid hormones, nuclear receptors and breast cancer, is internationally recognized as the prominent researcher in the role of Vitamin D in breast cancer prevention and treatment. She has been funded for her research on Vitamin D through the National Institutes of Health since 1985, and currently holds two NIH grants, with funding of $1,080,000 per year through 2010. Her research has been published in Endocrinology, the Journal of Biological Chemistry, and the Journal of Nutrition.

An expert in apoptosis in prostate cancer, Tenniswood was previously the Coleman Foundation Chair of Biological Sciences at Notre Dame. Tenniswood has been published in a variety of journals, including the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Molecular Cancer Therapeutics and Oncogene.

Through its partnership with the New York State Dept. of Health, UAlbany's School of Public Health offers students immediate access to internships at the Health Department, Albany Medical College, and variety of other public and private health institutions throughout New York. The school serves as the academic anchor of the East Campus, the biotech hub of the university's life sciences research, which includes the Cancer Research Center, home to the Gen*NY*Sis Center for Excellence in Cancer Genomics and the Center for Functional Genomics.

Students and faculty at UAlbany's globally-oriented School of Public Health study the most profound health issues facing us today: the origins of disease such as cancer, the threat of bioterrorism, the spread of HIV/AIDS and other emerging diseases, the lack of affordable and accessible health care for individuals and families, environmental hazards, substance abuse and social violence, maternal mortality in developing countries, the promises and threats of genetic engineering, and protecting food and water supplies.

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