Kansas State University


Johnson Cancer Research Center Newsletter

Author: marcia



I am honored to be the new director of the Johnson Cancer Research Center (JCRC). A professor in the Division of Biology, I came to K-State in 2004 to study the immune response to surgery, heart disease and cancer. I’m amazed by the generous support of everyone involved with the center.

This support includes the time and effort of others in this transition period, especially Dr. S. Keith Chapes and Dr. Mark Weiss. Rather than being simple placeholders as interim director and associate director, they continued to expand the center. The JCRC staff has been amazing, patiently educating me on the center. I also appreciate the center’s advisory council and research members, who have taken time to answer questions and offer advice.

In a first step towards growing the JCRC, we have a new associate director, Dr. Annelise Nguyen, associate professor in the Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology. Scientifically, Annelise brings expertise in breast cancer drug design and toxicology, and a valuable connection to clinical samples from the National Cancer Institute. She is also experienced with National Institutes of Health training grants. Annelise’s MBA provides experience in business, marketing and coordinating events. Together, we look forward to accelerating the growth of the JCRC.

We are grateful to all who support the center, in any and every form. I hope to visit with many of our friends soon, but if you’re in the area, please stop by and introduce yourself. We’d like to hear your ideas and stories as we continue to fight for a cure.

Sherry Fleming, PhD
Director, Johnson Cancer Research Center
Professor, Division of Biology

Read announcement of Dr. Fleming as JCRC director

Read announcement of Dr. Nguyen as JCRC associate director



K-State cancer research team receives $2 million from NSF

Drs. Bossmann, Culbertson & NatarajanK-State researchers and collaborators have received $2 million in funding from the National Science Foundation to conduct fundamental studies on new treatments for glioblastoma and other cancers. Led by Stefan Bossmann, chemistry, the group includes Christopher Culbertson, chemistry and associate dean for research in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Bala Natarajan, electrical and computer engineering. read more


Yulan Xiong, anatomy and physiology, has received a $1.6 million National Institutes of Health grant to study the physiological causes of Parkinson’s disease. (Most of Parkinson’s Disease-linked genes are also associated with cancers.) read more


Annelise Nguyen, diagnostic medicine and pathobiology and JCRC associate director, was recognized with the John Doull Award of the Central States Chapter of the Society of Toxicology, for outstanding contributions to the discipline of toxicology. read more



David Poole, kinesiology and anatomy & physiology, was recently recognized with an Iman Outstanding Faculty Award, one of the K-State’s highest faculty honors. He was selected on the basis of outstanding research and awarded $5,000. read more




Nora Springer, diagnostic medicine & pathobiology, had her article published in, and featured on the cover of, the October 2019 issue of The American Journal of Pathology!




Zhilong Yang, biology, was recognized as Professor of the Week Dec. 7. Yang studies viral replication, focusing on poxvirus, which not only causes disease but can also be used for therapeutics against cancer and other diseases. read more


Santosh Aryal, chemistry, and team are improving the safety of MRIs by developing nanoparticle-based gadolinium contrast agents. read “Making MRIs Safer” in Advanced Science News




JCRC awarded $227,500 to cancer research faculty in Fall 2019

In Fall 2019, we awarded $142,500 in Innovative Research Awards to Jocelyn McDonald, Katsura Asano and Govind Vediyappan in biology, Ping Li and Peter Sues in chemistry, Nora Springer in diagnostic medicine/pathobiology, and Dong Lin in industrial and manufacturing systems engineering.

We paid the second installment of $50,000 for the Center of Excellence for Pancreatic Cancer Research, led by Stefan Bossmann, chemistry. We also awarded a $35,000 equipment grant to Om Prakash, biochemistry and molecular biology, for a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance machine.

Read more about our faculty awards.



Cesar Aparicio, senior in chemistry working with Dr. Santosh Aryal, is one of five K-State students selected to present at Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol March 4. He will present “Stimuli-Responsive Platinum(IV) Micelles for Programmed Drug Delivery.” read more



Dryden Baumfalk, doctoral student working with Dr. Brad Behnke in kinesiology, was one of ten graduate students selected to represent K-State at the Capitol Graduate Research Summit in Topeka Feb. 26. He will present “Effects of prostate cancer and exercise training on left ventricular function and cardiac and skeletal muscle mass.” read more



JCRC awarded $110,000 to students in Fall 2019

Forty-two students were selected to participate in our undergraduate Cancer Research Award program, which provides funded, faculty-mentored research training. Students receive $1,500 awards, and faculty mentors receive $1,000 per student to cover research expenses, for a total of $105,000!  read more

We also provided a $5,000 Heart Research Award to Dryden Baumfalk, doctoral student working with Dr. Brad Behnke in kinesiology, for his project titled, “Cardio protective treatment of 5-Fluorouracil induced cardiotoxicity.”

Read more about our student awards.


Sam Club, Private Eye, Mystery Dinner, a fundraiser by the American Legion Auxiliary
Sat., Feb. 22, 6:30-9:30




Cancer Research Awards Banquet – Fri., April 17, 5:30

Advisory Council Meeting – Sat., April 18, 8-noon at KSU Foundation Bldg

K-State Open House – Sat., April 18, JCRC open to visitors 10-noon

Walk Kansas 5K for the Fight logo 2019


Walk Kansas 5K for the Fight – Sat., May 2



Bill Snyder Highway Half-Marathon runner



Bill Snyder Highway Half-Marathon & 5K – Sat., May 23





You’ll Never Run Alone 5K in memory of Frank Alonso – Sun., Aug. 9

Rob Regier Memorial Golf Tournament – Fri., Oct. 2

K-State Fighting for a Cure Day – Sat., Oct. 10


10th Annual Pink Power Luncheon

Nearly 170 people attended our 10th Annual Pink Power Luncheon Oct. 11. Jennifer Klemp, PhD, MPH, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Clinical Oncology and director of Cancer Survivorship at the University of Kansas Cancer Center, gave the presentation, “Understanding your risk: Breast cancer genetics and survivorship.” Co-sponsored by Susan G. Komen Kansas & Western Missouri, this free event offers lunch, information on health and local resources, and door prizes. Thanks also to the Riley County Medical Society for their support. View Pink Power Luncheon 2019 photos.

Tour Groups


We had a great time hosting visitors from Junction City and Fort Riley Middle Schools (photos) and Blue Valley West High School (photos). Thanks to our laboratory co-hosts, Drs. Wallace, Bossmann, Fleming and their teams!

Learn more about group visits.


JCRC Interim Director Keith Chapes celebrated his retirement

The Johnson Cancer Research Center hosted a retirement and farewell reception Dec. 12 for Dr. Keith Chapes, interim director of the center for three years and professor of biology. Many of Dr. Chapes’ friends, colleagues, family members, and former students came to celebrate with him. Read announcement.



Rob Regier Memorial Golf Tournament

The Regier family, Overland Park, hosted the 22nd annual Rob Regier Memorial Golf Tournament Oct. 18. It was dedicated in memory of former JCRC director Dr. Rob Denell and Regier family friend Bill Trenkle. Thanks to the Regiers and supporters, it raised $27,415! Mark your calendars for Oct. 2, 2020!


Brad Heyka Memorial Golf Tournament

Larry & Mary Jo Heyka hosted this annual tournament in memory of their son Brad Oct. 25, 2019. Every year, the golfers do an honor ride out to the Brad Heyka Memorial Practice Area. We are grateful for the $5,600 gift!



Sharon Snyder & Former K-State Head Football Coach Bill Snyder

Fighting for a Cure Campaign

Our thanks to all who bought Fighting for a Cure shirts and united in wearing them Oct. 5 to raise awareness and funds for K-State cancer research! More than $12,500 was raised through shirt sales in 2019! Thanks also to our retail partners: 1419 Mercantile, G. Thomas Jewelers and Magnolia’s in Junction City.

See more shirt campaign photos from Coach Klieman, Kevin Lockett, and more.

The associated matching gift campaign, supported by an anonymous donor, raised another $19,050!

Mark your calendars for K-State’s 7th annual Fighting for a Cure Day Oct. 10, 2020! Shirts in current and past styles are available. Learn more.


Give Cancer the Axe!

Manhatchet, a new axe-throwing venue in Manhattan, used their grand opening event to raise money for K-State cancer research! We are grateful they thought of us and donated $275!



Beta Boo

Beta Theta Pi fraternity hosted their ‘Beta Boo’ Halloween event and raised $1,422 for K-State cancer research!



Smoky Valley Chiropractic annual fundraiser in Lindsborg, Kan.

Darrel Loder, a chiropractor in Lindsborg, was a student of the late Dr. Terry Johnson, our center’s founding director and namesake. Dr. Loder and his staff dedicate a special day each year to raise cancer awareness and funds for our center. With their patients’ support, they donated $1,250 last fall!


Tillie Robinson Memorial Off-Road Poker Run

Rzrback Off Road, in Arkansas, selected the JCRC as the beneficiary of their annual Tillie Robinson Memorial Off-Road Poker Run. Their third annual event in October raised an impressive $5,500, bringing their 3-year total to $10,000! We thank them and their participants, sponsors & volunteers.



Coach Bill Snyder holding 2019 Fighting for a Cure shirt

The Shirt

The K-State Family is fighting, ever fighting, for a cure! Get your shirt and wear it Sat., Oct. 5, for K-State’s 6th Annual Fighting for a Cure Day, in honor of the K-State Family’s cancer survivors and researchers! All proceeds support K-State cancer research and education.

Join former K-State Head Football Coach Bill Snyder and Sharon Snyder & family, actor and alum Eric Stonestreet, former Wildcat and Chiefs football player Kevin Lockett, K-State President and First Lady Richard & Mary Jo Myers, Band Director Frank Tracz and many others in celebrating K-State’s fight against cancer.

The Tailgate Party

Cheer on the ‘Cats with us at our Tailgate Party in Cat Town at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Make an even greater impact!

Donate to the Fighting for a Cure campaign here and have your gift doubled by an anonymous friend of the center! This year’s campaign supports K-State’s Center of Excellence for Pancreatic Cancer Research.

Spread the word!

Post photos on social media of yourself and friends wearing the shirt, and use the hashtag #HelpKStateFightCancer! view 2018 photos

Learn more about the shirts and how you can get them on our Fighting for a Cure webpage. Or go straight to our webstore.



Pink Power Luncheon logo

Dr. Jennifer KlempThe 10th annual Pink Power Luncheon will be Fri., Oct. 11. Guest speaker Jennifer Klemp, PhD, MPH, will give the presentation, “Understanding your risk: Breast cancer genetics and survivorship.” Dr. Klemp is an associate professor of medicine in the Division of Clinical Oncology and the director of Cancer Survivorship at the University of Kansas Cancer Center.

The event is free, but reservations are required by Oct. 4. Reserve your spot early as it fills up quickly.

Learn more and make reservations


22nd Annual Rob Regier Memorial Golf Tournament

Regier Golf Tournament logoFri., Oct. 18, Colbert Hills Golf Course, Manhattan

This tournament honors Rob Regier, a 1988 K-State pre-dentistry alum who died of cancer in 1992 at age 26. Hosted by Rob’s family, this 4-person scramble offers a high-quality souvenir, hole prizes and a steak dinner.

This year’s tournament will be dedicated in loving memory to Dr. Rob Denell, former Johnson Cancer Research Center director, and Bill Trenkle, close friend of the Regier family, who both passed away from cancer in the past year.

Learn more and access registration form


19th Annual Brad Heyka Memorial Golf Tournament

Fri., Oct. 25, Colbert Hills Golf Course, Manhattan

This tournament honors Brad Heyka, a K-State finance alum who was tragically killed in 2000 at age 27.

To date, this event has raised more than $300,000 to support K-State scholarships, including significant funds for graduate student cancer researchers.

Download brochure (pdf)


Girls Pint Out image for Halloween Bash

‘Get Your Freak On’ Halloween Bash

Presented by MHK Girls Pint Out
Sat., Oct. 26, Bluemont Hotel, Manhattan

Girls Pint Out is a national craft beer organization for women. The Manhattan-based group aims to build a community of women who love craft beer and getting together for educational, charitable and social events. This October, they’ll “get their freak on” to support K-State cancer research! 


A Big Step in Cancer Detection

Imagine going to your doctor’s office for your annual checkup and having a simple and affordable blood test tell you in less than an hour whether you have a type of cancer or neurodegenerative disease. Chemistry professors Stefan Bossmann and Chris Culbertson have developed a device that does just that.

read story (from KSU Foundation’s Good For K-State magazine)


Making MRIs Safer

Santosh Aryal MRI photo from Advanced Science News feature

Dr. Santosh Aryal, chemistry and Nanotechnology Innovation Center of K-State, and his doctoral student Ramesh Marasini and former doctoral student Tuyen Nguyen (now a postdoctoral fellow at MD Anderson Cancer Center), are addressing the urgent need to develop better strategies regarding the use of potentially toxic gadolinium-based contrast agents in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Their work was featured in Advanced Science News. read story


Helping Dogs—and Humans—with Cancer: NCI’s Comparative Oncology Studies

Dr. Raelene Wouda & dog
Dr. Raelene Wouda, clinical sciences

This National Cancer Institute story discusses dog clinical trials that can help dogs and humans. NCI sponsors many dog clinical trials in its network, which includes Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. These institutions’ Comparative Oncology programs treat dogs with cancer while also gaining clues about human cancers. One clinical trial that K-State partners on, involving dogs with osteosarcoma, could help kids with bone cancer.

Learn about K-State’s Center of Excellence for Translational & Comparative Oncology Research.


CRISPR connections: How scientists use genetic technology to improve our world

Dr. Gregory Finnigan

Dr. Gregory Finnigan, biology, was featured in a story about CRISPR gene-editing technology in Seek, K-State’s research magazine. read story



Stefan Bossmann


Stefan Bossmann, chemistry, was named a University Distinguished Professor, K-State’s highest faculty ranking. read more




Dr. Mary Lynn Higginbotham

Mary Lynn Higginbotham, clinical sciences, presented ‘Immunotherapeutic Approaches in Canine Lymphoma’ at BioNexus’s One Health Research Symposium Aug. 29 in Kansas City. read more




Katie Heinrich, kinesiology, was named a fellow of the American Academy of Health Behavior. read more




Dr. Takashi Ito


Takashi Ito, chemistry, received the Ervin W. Segebrecht Honorarium Award for excellence in teaching and research in the departments of chemistry and chemical engineering. read more


Dr. Michael Kanost


Michael Kanost, biochemistry and molecular biophysics, received a Commerce Bank and W.T. Kemper Foundation Distinguished Graduate Faculty Award. read announcement




Dr. Zhilong Yang


Zhilong Yang, biology, was awarded a $1.9 million National Institutes of Health grant to study how vaccinia virus—a member of the poxvirus family—produces its proteins. read more



Dr. Michal Zolkiewski


Michal Zolkiewski, microbiology & molecular biophysics, was awarded a $2 million National Institutes of Health grant to develop new antibiotics. read story





2019 K-State Goldwater ScholarsThree undergraduate students who work in Johnson Cancer Research Center affiliated laboratories were named Goldwater Scholars: Erianna Basgall, junior in biochemistry; Mackenzie Thornton, junior in microbiology and pre-medicine; and Gabrielle Phillips, senior in chemical engineering. read more

Fawwaz Naeem, 2018-2019 Cancer Research Awardee


Fawwaz Naeem received the Division of Biology’s H.H. Haymaker Award for Excellence, recognizing graduating seniors who have demonstrated a high level of accomplishment as undergraduates, and who have the promise to continue such high performance in a biological sciences-related career. read more



JCRC Spring Awards and Student Recognition Banquet

Thanks to our generous supporters, we invested $151,833 in K-State cancer research and education last semester! Graduate student support was our main focus that semester. We awarded graduate and post-doctoral students $114,943 in summer stipends and $9,640 for travel. We awarded faculty $27,200 for innovative research projects and laboratory equipment.The awardees are listed on our Faculty and Student Awardee webpages.

Guests at CRA Banquet 2019We honored undergraduate student researchers at our Cancer Research Awards Banquet April 12. Recognized along with the students were their faculty mentors and families, and the donors who made the awards possible. Photos are available in an album on Facebook.


Cancer Journal Club

Cancer Journal ClubThe Cancer Journal Club is a forum for K-State students, faculty and friends interested in hot topics in cancer biology. Undergraduate students are especially encouraged to participate. For each meeting, a professor or graduate student involved in cancer research chooses a high-impact research article in the field of cancer biology for all club members to read, and then leads discussion about it at the meeting. Undergraduate students can elect to present papers to improve their oral presentation skills.

The club generally meets every other week. For more information, contact Dr. Katsura Asano at kasano@ksu.edu.

RECENT EVENTS (Lots of running!)

Walk Kansas 5K for the Fight

Walk Kansas 5K for the Fight runner in 2019About 150 people participated in the 4th annual Walk Kansas 5K for the Fight & 1.5-mile fun walk May 4! Our thanks to Walk Kansas, the participants and the Cancer Center of Kansas for raising $3,142 for K-State cancer research! Thanks also to PrairieStone, HyVee, Kansas Wheat, Sunny 102.5 and many volunteers for donating water, food, music/emcee support and time and energy! Special thanks to our volunteer photographer, K-State student Alex Wilson! View his (and a few of our) photos in the album on Facebook!


Bill Snyder Highway Half-Marathon & 5K

Bill Snyder Highway Half-Marathon runnerWhat a spectacular event Manhattan Running Company presented on May 25! The highlight was finishing on the football field at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Coach Snyder selected the Johnson Cancer Research Center and three other organizations to benefit from the event. We are so grateful to him, Manhattan Running Company and all the supporters for the $3,000 gift! view photos


You’ll Never Run Alone 5K

Frank Alonso You'll Never Run Alone 5KFrank AlonsoThe You’ll Never Run Alone 5K honored Manhattan High School and club soccer coach Frank Alonso, who passed away from pancreatic cancer last fall. This inaugural event, held Aug. 18, drew incredible support! Thanks to the hard work of Frank’s wife Jennifer Alonso, and the support of about 300 participants and a multitude of sponsors and volunteers, this event raised an impressive $10,900 for K-State’s Center of Excellence in Pancreatic Cancer Research!





Conquest 2019 Magazine coverThe 2019 Conquest magazine is hot off the press, with brief, easy-to-read stories that showcase some of the excellent cancer research happening at Kansas State University. We also chat with Coach Bill Snyder, a member of our advisory council, about facing cancer and supporting research. view Conquest 2019



Dr. Stefan Bossmann


Stefan Bossmann, chemistry, has been named a University Distinguished Professor, K-State’s highest faculty ranking, awarded to only two professors per year. read more




David Poole, kinesiology and anatomy & physiology, will serve as K-State’s 2019-2020 Coffman Chair for University Distinguished Teaching Scholars. read more



Dr. Jeroen Roelofs


Jeroen Roelofs, biology, was named a Professor of the Week. read more




Bruce Snead


Bruce Snead, director of K-State’s National Radon Program Services, contributed to this Healthline article about radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas found in soil, and the second leading cause of lung cancer.



Dr. S. Keith Chapes


S. Keith Chapes, biology, and team sent 40 mice to the International Space Station April 17 for immune system research. read more



Dr. Zhoumeng Lin & team


Zhoumeng Lin‘s research team in anatomy & physiology presented two award-winning posters and one platform presentation, and provided services for the Society of Toxicology, at the society’s annual meeting in Baltimore in March. read more in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s April Newsletter



K-State’s 2018-2019 undergraduate cancer researchers were honored at our annual Cancer Research Award Banquet April 12. Also recognized were the students’ mentors and parents, and the donors who make the awards possible. Photos of the banquet will be published on our Facebook page soon. See full list of our 2018-2019 Cancer Research Awardees.


K-State representation at the annual K-INBRE Symposium

Current and former undergraduate Cancer Research Awardees Emily Wessel, Gabrielle Phillips, Haley SmalleySeth Peery and Molly Bassette received honors at the K-INBRE Symposium in January! K-INBRE stands for Kansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence. IDeA stands for Institutional Development Award, a program of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institutes of Health. read more


Obdulia Covarrubias-Zambrano with posterObdulia Covarrubias Zambrano, doctoral student in chemistry working with Stefan Bossmann, received statewide recognition for her cancer research at the 16th Capitol Graduate Research Summit Feb. 27 at the State Capitol  in Topeka. Her research focuses on the development of a nanobiosensor for early pancreatic cancer detection by means of a simple blood test. read more



Jim Haymaker photo


Longtime friend and advisory council member of the Johnson Cancer Research Center Jim Haymaker will be awarded an honorary doctorate from K-State in May. read more




Walk Kansas 5K for the Fight 2018 Participants

Walk Kansas, a statewide health initiative presented by K-State Research and Extension, will hold its fourth annual Walk Kansas 5K for the Fight and 1.5-mile fun walk Sat., May 4, to benefit the Johnson Cancer Research Center. It is open to everyone, not just Walk Kansas program participants.

The event, which will include a 50-yard kids’ fun run, will open for check-in at 7:45 a.m. and the 5K and fun walk will take off at 9 a.m.

The 5K will circle around Bill Snyder Family Stadium and the 1.5-mile fun walk will wind through main campus. Custom medals will be awarded, and chip timing will give live results.

All participants will receive a T-shirt, snacks, water and more. The K-State Marching Band will perform and Sunny 102.5 FM will play music and emcee.

read more