Kansas State University


Johnson Cancer Research Center Newsletter


K-State launches Center of Excellence for Pancreatic Cancer Research

Dr. Stefan BossmannThe Johnson Cancer Research Center has launched a Center of Excellence for Pancreatic Cancer Research. The center has three areas of focus: cancer detection, drug discovery and studies involving in-vivo techniques and magnetic resonance imaging.

The center is led by Stefan Bossmann, professor of chemistry. The focus areas are led by, respectively, Jun Li, professor of chemistry; Duy Hua, university distinguished professor of chemistry; and Jianzhong Yu, assistant professor of anatomy and physiology.

Pancreatic cancer is the third-deadliest cancer in the U.S. Most pancreatic cancers are diagnosed late due to the absence of symptoms. Only 1 percent of people diagnosed at stage IV live another five years.

“Sadly, pancreatic cancer survival rates have remained unchanged in the past decade,” Bossmann said. “New strategies for detection and treatment are urgently needed.”

A major goal of the center is to make earlier detection possible by developing inexpensive liquid biopsy methods that enable frequent and routine testing for onset or recurrence of pancreatic cancer.

A second goal is to develop new drug therapies using cutting-edge chemical synthesis and characterization methods, expert nanotechnology, state-of-the-art in-vitro experimentation and ultra-high-field MRI methods.

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Faculty Achievements

Dr. Jianzhong Yu


Jianzhong Yu & Yulan Xiong and team in anatomy and physiology, have identified two proteins that suppress tumor growth in fruit flies and may have similar effect on human cancers. read more


Annelise Nguyen, diagnostic medicine/pathobiology, was elected president of Central States Society of Toxicology (read more). She is also the newest Institutional Biosafety Committee Chair for the University Research Compliance Office.

Bruce Snead, Engineering Extension, was named the 2018 “Radon Hero” by the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors Inc. read more

Kristin Michel, biology, Mike Kanost, biochemistry & molecular biophysics, and team got an NIH grant for mosquito immune system research. read more

Sherry Fleming


Sherry Fleming, biology, received a Department of Defense grant to study how hormones affect males’ and females’ survival of trauma. read more



Raelene Wouda, clinical sciences, received a BioNexus KC and Hall Family Foundation Nexus of Human and Animal Health Research Grant for her collaborative work to create a “universal” cancer vaccination approach by overcoming stumbling blocks to immunotherapy. read more

Susan Sun holding Hydrogel


Xiuzhi “Susan” Sun, grain science and industry, named fellow of National Academy of Inventors in recognition of her prolific spirit of innovation and the impact of her work. read more


Magnetic Landscape


Stefan Bossmann‘s image, “Magnetic Landscape,” was part of the 2018 Science to Art exhibition at Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City. At right is the story in K-State’s Fall 2018 ‘Seek’ magazine. Read more about Kemper’s Science to Art exhibit.



Student Achievements

Tuyen NguyenTuyen Nguyen, a doctoral candidate in chemistry (in Sept. 2018) working with Dr. Santosh Aryal at the Nanotechnology Innovation Center of Kansas State, received a first place award in her oral presentation entitled “Cell Membrane Disguised Nanoparticle with Tumor Targeting Motifs” at the UNMC Biopharmaceutical Research and Development Symposium. read more

Yu Shin Wang, senior in animal science & industry working with Dr. Zhoumeng Lin in anatomy & physiology, received the outstanding poster presentation award in the Central States Society of Toxicology annual meeting in Oct. read more

Obdulia Covarrubias-ZambranoObdulia Covarrubias Zambrano, doctoral student in chemistry working with Dr. Stefan Bossmann, was among the 10 students selected to represent K-State at the 16th Capitol Graduate Research Summit Feb. 26, 2019, in Topeka. Her presentation is titled “Liquid biopsy: The simplest technique for pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer detection.” read more



Vaithish VelazhahanVaithish Velazhahan, 2018 graduate in microbiology, medical biochemistry and pre-medicine who worked with Dr. Kathrin Schrick in biology, received a Gates Cambridge Scholarship and is now pursuing his PhD in the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge University in England.



JCRC awarded $175,709 in Fall 2018!

Thanks to our generous supporters, we were able to invest $175,709 in K-State cancer research and education last fall! In addition to the $50,000 we provided for the new Center of Excellence for Pancreatic Cancer Research, we also gave $125,709 in competitive awards to K-State cancer research faculty and students. Our awards advance K-State’s most promising research projects and help train the next generation of scientists. They are offered each semester. Spring award applications are due March 1.

Cancer Research Awardees 2018-2019
Congrats to K-State’s 2018-2019 undergraduate cancer researchers!