Kansas State University


Johnson Cancer Research Center Newsletter

Author: marcia


Dr. Sherry Fleming headshotDear Friends,

These are unprecedented times. Many of our laboratories were shuttered, but they are gradually re-opening with the return of students. Experienced students are continuing their lab work with proper precautions. Importantly, we continue to fight cancer by funding student and faculty research awards, thanks to our supporters.

With football in the near future, we are looking forward to the 7th annual K-State Fighting for a Cure Day Oct. 24. Please get your shirt—sweatshirts are a new option this year! Then, unite in wearing it that day in honor of the K-State family’s cancer survivors and researchers!

Dr. Sherry D. Fleming
Director, Johnson Cancer Research Center


7th Annual Fighting for a Cure Day Oct. 24

Coach Bill Snyder holding 2019 Fighting for a Cure shirtThe K-State Family is fighting, ever fighting, for a cure! Get your shirt and wear it to the football game or anywhere Sat., Oct. 24, for K-State’s 7th Annual Fighting for a Cure Day, in honor of the K-State Family’s cancer survivors and researchers! This fall, in addition to short- and long-sleeve t-shirts, we’ve added sweatshirts! All proceeds support K-State cancer research and education.

Join K-State’s former Head Football Coach and his wife Bill & Sharon Snyder, current Head Football Coach Chris Klieman, actor and alum Eric Stonestreet, former Wildcat and Chiefs football player Kevin Lockett, K-

Fighting for a Cure sweatshirt
New in 2020—sweatshirts!

State President and First Lady Richard & Mary Jo Myers, Band Director Frank Tracz and many others in celebrating K-State’s fight against cancer.

Spread the word! Post photos on social media of yourself and friends wearing the shirt, and use the hashtag #HelpKStateFightCancer! (View 2019 photos.)

Learn more about the shirts on our Fighting for a Cure webpage. Or go straight to our webstore.


4th Annual Pink Up the Pace 5K and Honor Walk Oct. 17

Downtown Manhattan will host the 4th annual Pink Up the Pace 5K and Honor Walk Oct. 17. Kick off the race between 3rd and 4th Streets on Poyntz Ave., and celebrate afterward with pizza on AJ’s patio.

Learn more


Jeff Comer, anatomy & physiology, received a Photo of Dr. Jeffrey Comer$450,500 NSF CAREER award. His innovative computer simulation work complements several cancer research projects by directing chemotherapy drugs to cancer cells.

read more



Dr. Katie HeinrichKatie Heinrich, kinesiology, was named president-elect for the American Academy of Health Behavior. She will serve as its twenty-first president, and is the first K-State faculty member to serve in that role.  read more

She was also named a Fellow in the American College of Sports Medicine.  read more

Dr. Heinrich studies the impact of exercise on health, fitness and quality of life in the prevention and treatment of cancer and other chronic diseases.


Dr. Zhoumeng LinZhoumeng Lin, pharmacology & toxicology, co-edited and co-authored the recently published book, “Physiologically Based Pharmacokinetic (PBPK) Modeling: Methods and Applications in Toxicology and Risk Assessment.” His research uses computer models to study how drugs traffic within the body.

read more


computer graphic image of molecule docked to viral targetHo-Leung Ng, biochemistry & molecular biophysics, leads a research consortium that uses artificial intelligence to find promising drugs for COVID-19 treatment. He studies protein interactions critical in cancer, and now in COVID-19.

read more


Dr. Carl AdeCarl Ade, kinesiology, was awarded the K-State College of Health & Human Sciences’ Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant for promising, early-stage research. He studies how chemotherapy causes cardiovascular toxicity. read more




JCRC provided nearly $600,000 for research and education in FY 2020

Cancer research and education programs at Kansas State University received a big boost from donations made to the university’s Johnson Cancer Research Center in fiscal year 2020.

Private donations to the cancer research center provide hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to support innovative cancer research, laboratory equipment purchases, mentoring of student researchers and more.

read more


Fall award applications now open

The Johnson Cancer Research Center offers competitive funding to its faculty members and their students every semester. This semester, we’ll offer faculty Innovative Research Awards, Travel Fellowships and Cancer Research Collaboration of Excellence Awards. For students, we’ll offer undergraduate Cancer Research Awards and Graduate Student & Post-Doc Travel Awards. Applications are due Oct. 1.

learn more


Dr. Annelise NguyenThe Johnson Cancer Research Center says thank-you and farewell to our associate director, Dr. Annelise Nguyen, as she embarks on her new adventure at Texas Tech University’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Nguyen joined the JCRC staff in January 2020. She was an associate professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine and had been a member of the JCRC faculty since 2005.

Dr. Nguyen brought to the JCRC her expertise in breast cancer drug design and toxicology, and experience in business and marketing. In her few months on staff, she was a devoted asset as the center entered a new phase of leadership.

Her positive attitude, enthusiasm and cheerful personality will be missed. We wish her all the best in Texas.


You'll Never Run Alone 5K take-off
You’ll Never Run Alone 5K coordinator Jennifer Alonso leads the race on her bike. (Photo by Kelli Jones.)

The 2nd annual You’ll Never Run Alone 5K was held Aug. 9 in memory of local youth soccer coach Frank Alonso, who passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2018. Thanks to the hard work (extra hard this year due to COVID-19) of Frank’s wife Jennifer Alonso and daughters Isabella and Sophia, and the support of hundreds of participants, sponsors and volunteers, this event raised more than $9,000 for K-State cancer research.

Many thanks to major sponsors Kansas Farm Bureau, Kstate Credit Union, and Steel and Pipe Supply, and all the other sponsors and supporters!



Cancer Fighters members at Bill Snyder Hwy Half-Marathon & 5K
Members of the K-State Cancer Fighters student organization helped out at the Bill Snyder Highway Half-Marathon & 5K Sept. 7.

The Bill Snyder Highway Half-Marathon & 5K was held Labor Day, Sept. 7 (rescheduled from May 23). This annual event, presented by Manhattan Running Company, supports four local charities a year, designated by former K-State Head Football Coach Bill Snyder. We’re very grateful to have been selected again this year. We don’t have results yet, but last year, it raised $3,000 for our center!



Thanks to friends who had to cancel annual events due to COVID-19

Ladies out walking for the virtual Walk Kansas 5K for the FightThe Walk Kansas 5K for the Fight, scheduled for May 2, was canceled. It is presented annually by K-State Research & Extension’s Walk Kansas program. An informal virtual alternative got a little participation with a lot of enthusiasm, and a few registrants donated their fees despite the cancellation (and received a shirt). We’re grateful for all the support!

The Rob Regier Memorial Golf Tournament, originally scheduled for Fri., Oct. 2, has been canceled. It is hosted annually by Sandy Regier and her son Randy and family.

The Brad Heyka Memorial Golf Tournament, originally scheduled for Fri., Oct. 9, has been canceled. It is hosted annually by Larry and Mary Jo Heyka.

Our sincere thanks to the KSRE Walk Kansas program and to the Regiers and Heykas for their continued support! We will be so excited to enjoy these events next year!


Image of fall leaves and message saying World Gratitude Day is Sept 21, and we're thankful for you!


cover of Conquest 2020 magazine

See how K-State is fighting cancer in the Johnson Cancer Research Center’s 2020 Conquest magazine. Brief, easy-to-read stories showcase some of the excellent cancer research happening at K-State, and some of the friends who help make it possible.


  • Dr. Peying Fong and Dr. Jeffrey Comer, anatomy & physiology, study how substances like cancer drugs penetrate the cell membrane (single story)
  • Dr. Amir Bahadori, mechanical & nuclear engineering, studies ways to protect people from cancer caused by radiation (single story)
  • Dr. Jianzhong Yu, anatomy & physiology, studies proteins relevant to cell proliferation and tumor growth (single story)
  • Mackenzie Thornton, senior in microbiology and pre-medicine, studies how cancer cells thrive despite nutrient stress (single story)
  • Dr. Katsura Asano, biology, studies how alterations in cellular translation can initiate cancer formation (single story)
  • Lori Kautzman, MD, biology alumna, organ transplant surgeon supports the JCRC’s Cancer Research Award program (single story)
  • The Frank Alonso family organizes ‘You’ll Never Run Alone 5K’ in memory of him, to raise money for pancreatic cancer research (single story).

View 2020 Conquest



cervical cancer cells imaged with fluorescence microscopy
This image of cervical cancer cells was captured with fluorescence microscopy.

Nick Wallace, biology, received a $454,466 National Cancer Institute grant to study Cisplatin-resistant cervical cancers. read news release

Also, Dr. Wallace and Dr. Nick Wallaceteam’s study, “Beta-HPV 8E6 Attenuates LATS Phosphorylation After Failed Cytokinesis,” was published in the American Society for Microbiology’s Journal of Virology. view publication



Hippo Signaling Pathway diagram

Jianzhong Yu, anatomy & physiology, received a $1,580,922 National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to uncover how an evolutionary pathway may affect tumor development and cancer. His research could lead to better therapies for treating cancer. read story



Dr. Punit PrakashPunit Prakash, electrical & computer engineering, and team received a $1.3 million NIH grant to expand on preliminary hypertension studies that indicate mild heating of benign adrenal gland tumors can disrupt the tumors’ unregulated production of the hormone aldosterone, which may cause some hypertension cases. (Prakash also studies the use of energy-based devices and strategies for thermal therapy of cancer.) read more


Dr. Dong Lin

Dong Lin, industrial & manufacturing systems engineering, received an NSF CAREER Award to investigate a novel manufacturing technique to engineer nacre- (mother of pearl) or bio-inspired, 3D metal-graphene composites. read more



Zhoumeng Lin and postdoctoral researcher Yi-Hsien Cheng, anatomy and physiology, report progress and limitations of nanoparticle-based drug formulations for cancer treatment in their study, “Meta-analysis of nanoparticle delivery to tumors using a physiologically-based pharmacokinetic modeling and simulation approach,” published in the journal, ACS Nano. read more



cell-based MRI contrast agent imageSagar Rayamajhi, a graduate student in chemistry who works with Dr. Santosh Aryal, was lead author on a study published in two Royal Society of Chemistry journals, Biomaterial Science and the Journal of Material Chemistry B. Their team has developed a cell-based magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agent that can efficiently light up a tumor area, providing crucial diagnostic information for cancer therapy, more safely than the current agent based on gadolinium metal. read more


Alexa WildenAlexa Wilden, senior in biology who works with Dr. Stella Lee and is a three-time Cancer Research Award recipient, was awarded the H.H. Haymaker Award for Excellence, which recognizes an outstanding senior with the highest student honor in the Division of Biology. read more




Cancer researchers among Division of Biology’s Most Promising Students

Four Cancer Research Award recipients are among the 15 sophomores and juniors honored by the Division of Biology with Most Promising Student Awards. They are: Emma Francis, junior in biology who works with Dr. Rollie Clem; Abdulrahman Naeem (not pictured), junior in biology, minoring in political science, who works with Dr. Ruth Welti; Elizabeth Riforgiate, sophomore in biology who works with Dr. Nick Wallace; and Lake Winter, sophomore in biology, minoring in anthropology, who works with Dr. Zhilong Yang. read announcement

Emma Francis
Emma Francis
Elizabeth Riforgiate
Elizabeth Riforgiate
Lake Winter
Lake Winter









Cancer research students recognized at K-INBRE symposium

Of the four K-State students honored for their research presentations at the 18th annual K-INBRE Symposium (Kansas IDeA—Institutional Development Awards—Network of Biomedical Research Excellence) in January, two were former Cancer Research Award recipients:

Mayme Loyd, senior in medical biochemistry and pre-medicine who works with Dr. Masaaki Tamura, for her poster presentation “Cell wall membrane fraction of Chlorella sorokiniana enhances host anti-tumor immunity and inhibits colon carcinoma growth in mice.”



Isabel Lewis, senior in biochemistry and pre-medicine who works with Dr. Gregory Finnigan, for her oral presentation “CRISPR Cas12a endonuclease in a gene drive: Cuts only as good as the guide.”



Read about the K-State students recognized at the K-INBRE Symposium.


Dryden Baumfalk was recognized at the Capitol Graduate Research Summit in Topeka Feb. 26. Baumfalk works with Dr. Brad Behnke in kinesiology studying the effect of moderate-intensity exercise on skeletal and cardiac muscle mass in prostate cancer patients. read more



Photo of Konner WinkleyKonner Winkley, doctoral candidate in biology who works with Dr. Michael Veeman and received a JCRC 2020 Summer Stipend, was awarded the $17,000 Alvin and RosaLee Sarachek Predoctoral Honors Fellowship in Molecular Biology. read more



Photo of Anil PantAnil Pant, doctoral candidate in biology who works with Dr. Zhilong Yang and has received multiple JCRC awards, was awarded a $1,000 Sarachek Scientific Travel Award. read more





Thanks to our generous supporters, we were able to invest $247,832 in K-State cancer research and education this spring! We awarded graduate and post-doctoral students $132,132 in summer stipends. We awarded faculty $67,700 in Innovative Research Awards and $8,000 for laboratory equipment, plus a commitment of $40,000 to support a flow cytometry core facility pending an external grant. The awardees are listed on our Faculty and Student Awardee webpages.



Due to COVID-19, we had to cancel our annual Cancer Research Award Banquet scheduled for April 17. As an alternative, we created the Virtual 2020 Cancer Research Award Banquet.

Every fall, up to 50 undergraduate students are selected to receive Cancer Research Awards. The annual award banquet recognizes the students, their faculty mentors and the donors who made the awards possible.

Last fall, 42 students were selected. The 2020 virtual award banquet presents all the awardees, their awards and the donors, as well as a video presentation from our guest speaker Gabrielle Phillips, a senior in chemical engineering who works with Dr. Ruth Welti in biology.


Big thanks to the Pearce-Keller American Legion Post No. 17 Auxiliary in Manhattan for hosting a Mystery Theater Dinner to raise money for K-State cancer research! They raised $5,820!

(Pictured here are JCRC advisory council member Lorene Oppy, fourth, and the actors.)