Kansas State University


Johnson Cancer Research Center Newsletter

Author: marcia


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


Hartwell Nobelaureate presentation Infographic-1g6gl43“Experiencing Science: Motivating Educators & Learners to Become Innovators” virtual lecture and Q&A with a Nobel laureate – Wed., April 24, 3:30





Walk Kansas 5K for the Fight logo 2019


Walk Kansas 5K for the Fight – Sat., May 4, Johnson Cancer Research Center


Snyder Highway Half-Marathon logo


Bill Snyder Highway Half-Marathon & 5K – Sat., May 25, Manhattan



K-State Fighting for a Cure Day – Sat., Oct. 5, everywhere. New shirt design for Fall 2019!

Rob Regier Memorial Golf Tournament – Fri., Oct. 18, Colbert Hills, Manhattan


Polyester Party dance floor
Polyester Party photo courtesy of J&C Imaging

The Polyester Party presented by CivicPlus April 5 was a great success! Retro-costumed partiers danced the night away to live music from Disco Dick & the Mirrorballs, voted on their favorite bra in the Off the Hook bra art contest, and enjoyed scrumptious food and drinks. Moreover, the party raised about $10,000 for K-State cancer research! view photos


Pink Up The Pace Tutu Duo
Pink Up the Pace photo courtesy of Alex Todd Photography

The Pink Up the Pace 5K & 1-Mile Honor Walk in downtown Manhattan Sat., April 13, was a great success! Our thanks to Downtown Manhattan, Inc., and all the sponsors and participants! The event raised $1,750 for K-State cancer research! view photos


Golden Girls Mystery Dinner graphic


The Pearce-Keller American Legion #17 Auxiliary hosted a Mystery Dinner Theater fundraiser, which raised an impressive $4,575!






Nemaha student visitor

Group visits and K-State Open House offered multiple opportunities to tell people about cancer research at K-State. Thanks to Dr. Nick Wallace and his team for partnering with us! View photos of Nemaha Central High School biology student visit



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.

read more


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!


Breakfast with Komen founder Nancy Brinker Oct. 30

Nancy Brinker talking to JCRC affiliates at Union Station by JP'sThe Johnson Cancer Research Center was honored to host a breakfast Oct. 30 for Nancy Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen breast cancer organization and former U.S. ambassador. Ms. Brinker chatted with K-State cancer research faculty and students about their research, shared her thoughts and vision related to cancer research and health care, and encouraged us to continue to fight cancer through science and education.

Ms. Brinker was at K-State to give the keynote presentation for the Women of K-State Luncheon and Wellness Panel. She gave an inspirational talk about service, leadership and hope.

Nancy Brinker & Marcia Locke of Johnson Cancer Research Center
Nancy Brinker and JCRC Communications & Outreach Coordinator Marcia Locke
Dr. Masa Tamura, Mayme Loyd & Brinker
Dr. Masa Tamura, student Mayme Loyd & Nancy Brinker










9th Annual Pink Power Luncheon Oct. 23

Pink Power Luncheon GuestsAbout 180 people attended our Pink Power Luncheon Oct. 23. Our guest speaker was Anne O’Dea, assistant professor and medical director for breast cancer survivorship at the University of Kansas Medical Center. She presented, “Updates in Breast Cancer Risk, Screening and Treatment: Where Do I Fit In?” This free, special event for the community offers lunch, health information, exhibits on local resources and door prizes. It is co-sponsored by Susan G. Komen Kansas & Western Missouri. view photos



Golden Girls Mystery Dinner graphic


Golden Girls Mystery Dinner – Feb. 23, American Legion Post 17, Manhattan




Off The Hook Bra Crawl Logo 2019


Off the Hook Bra Crawl – March 26, Downtown Manhattan



Pink & Purple Polyester Party logo


Pink & Purple Polyester Party – April 5, K-State Alumni Center, Manhattan




Pink Up the Pace 5K image


Pink Up the Pace 5K – April 13, Downtown Manhattan



Walk Kansas 5K for the Fight Logo


Walk Kansas 5K for the Fight – May 4, at the Johnson Cancer Research Center, Manhattan



Snyder Highway Half-Marathon logo

Bill Snyder Highway Half Marathon & 5K
 – May 25, Manhattan



More events & details