Kansas State University


Johnson Cancer Research Center Newsletter

Author: marcia


Dr. Stephen Keith ChapesThanks for taking time to read our Winter 2016-17 Newsletter! I am Stephen Keith Chapes, a professor in the Division of Biology, and I am excited to serve as interim director of the Johnson Cancer Research Center. As a former associate director of the center, I am familiar with many of its activities. But as I learn more about it, I grow increasingly impressed by the generosity of its supporters. Thank you for helping K-State fight cancer!

As many of you know, Rob Denell, the Johnson Cancer Research Center‘s second director, retired from K-State at the end of October. We hosted a retirement party for him at the Alumni Center Nov. 7. Many of his colleagues and former students joined in celebrating his successful career. Here he is pictured (third from left) with past members of his lab. more photos

Dr. Denell had a major impact on the center, on the Division of Biology where he was a university distinguished professor, and on the university as a whole. He will be greatly missed. You can read more about him in our next annual Conquest magazine, due out in April.

Please read on to learn more about our research, achievements and activities.

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Send us your stories and photos related to K-State cancer research.


The Pink & Purple Polyester Party, presented by CivicPlus, will be at 7 p.m., Fri., April 7, at the K-State Alumni Center.

Dress 60s, 70s or 80s style and “shake your booty” with Disco Dick & the Mirrorballs of Kansas City! Vote for your favorite “Off the Hook” bra and enjoy hors d’oeuvres and late-night munchies, libations and a fun photo booth! Best costume wins $100!

In conjunction with the party, Gaia SalonSpa is sponsoring the “Off the Hook” Bra Crawl in downtown Manhattan at 6-8 p.m. March 28. Enjoy food and drink specials at AJ’s, Blue Moose, Hibachi Hut, 4 Olives and Della Voce while getting an advance peek at the “Off the Hook” bras that will be competing at the party. Stay tuned to our Party webpage for developing details.

Party and sponsorship information, past party photos and online reservations are all available on our Party webpage. Get fun updates from the Pink & Purple Polyester Party Facebook page.


Race to Save 2nd Base LogoDowntown Manhattan, Inc., presents Manhattan’s first breast cancer foot race at 8 a.m. Sat., April 22! A portion of the proceeds will be donated to our center. Walk or run up Poyntz Ave. to Sunset Zoo and then back to AJ’s for the Pink Party! Wear a pink bib in honor of a cancer survivor. Get a free cancer screening sponsored by the Kansas Masonic Foundation. More info is on Downtown Manhattan’s website.


Walk Kansas 5K for the Fight Logo

The statewide Walk Kansas program will hold its 2nd Annual Walk Kansas 5K for the Fight and 1.5-mile fun walk Sat., May 6. This year’s event will include a kids’ fun run and other fun activities. It is open to everyone, not just Walk Kansas program participants. Make walking or running this 5K your goal as you work towards better health! Exercise reduces cancer risk! Our website has details.


All Upcoming Events

Mystery Dinner Theater presented by American Legion Auxiliary Unit 17 – Sat., Feb. 11, 2017, at American Legion, 114 McCall Rd., Manhattan

Panda Express Fundraiser with K-State Cancer Fighters – Fri., March 3, 2017, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., K-State Student Union (more details soon)

K-State Open House – Sat., April 1, 2017

Off the Hook Bra Crawl to support Pink & Purple Polyester Party – Tue., March 28, 2017, downtown Manhattan

Pink & Purple Polyester Party – Fri., April 7, 2017, at K-State Alumni Center

Cancer Research Awards Banquet – Fri., April 21, 2017, at Four Points by Sheraton

Race to Save 2nd Base 5K presented by Downtown Manhattan – Sat., April 22, 2017

Advisory Council Spring Meeting – Sat., April 22, 2017

Walk Kansas 5K for the Fight – Sat., May 6, 2017, K-State Manhattan campus

K-State Fighting for a Cure (Shirt) Day – Sat., Oct. 14, 2017

Tailgate Party in Cat Town – Sat., Oct. 14, 2017, Cat Town at Bill Snyder Family Stadium

Rob Regier Memorial Golf Tournament – Fri., Oct. 20, 2017, Colbert Hills Golf Course, Manhattan


Bascom Lecture on HPV vaccine for cancer prevention

Dr. Mike HagenseeMichael Hagensee, MD, PhD, Dept. of Medicine, Section of Infectious Disease, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, presented “HPV vaccination: from laboratory to…bedside?” Nov. 3 for our Bascom Lecture Series for the K-State and greater Manhattan community.

Dr. Michael Hagensee discussed the development of the current HPV vaccines, from laboratory benchtop to clinical application. He described the problems with the low HPV vaccination rates as well as a possible solution. And he spoke about ongoing issues with HPV-related diseases in the vaccine era. A video is available on our website.


Dr. Waddle travels to Armenia!Dr. Waddle book in Armenian

Our A Day With Dr. Waddle book, written by center staff in 1988, has been translated into Armenian to help counselors at Muratsan University Hospital’s Chemotherapy Clinic, in Armenia, explain cancer to children.

Dr. Waddle’s important lesson is now available in English, Spanish and Armenian! Books are available directly from our center. Learn more about Dr. Waddle on our website.


K-State Fighting for a Cure Day

K-State Marching Bands Beat Cancer FormationWildcats aplenty wore their Fighting for a Cure shirts to the home football game and elsewhere in celebration of K-State Fighting for a Cure Day Oct. 8. Sharon Snyder & daughter WhitneyFirst lady of K-State Football Sharon Snyder and the Snyder family and many other friends showed their pride by wearing their shirts.

Around 520 people bought the new K-State Fighting for a Cure shirt in 2016, raising about $6,750 for K-State cancer research. That brings total shirt proceeds to more than $26,000!

Eric Stonestreet wearing Cure shirtYou can see photos of our shirt campaign supporters on Facebook, including Emmy Award-winning actor and K-State alum Eric Stonestreet, former K-State and Kansas City Chiefs football player Kevin Lockett, University President and First Lady Richard and Mary Jo Myers, and band director Dr. Frank Tracz.

A highlight of the day was when the K-State Marching Band, decorated in pink ribbons, formed the words “BEAT CANCER” on the field during halftime! See the photo above. We also enjoyed our annual Tailgate Party in Cat Town.

We are grateful to N Zone, our media partners and many others who have supported this effort!

The 2017 Fighting for a Cure Day will be Oct. 14. Get your shirt!


7th Annual Pink Power Luncheon

Pink Power Luncheon GuestsWe had our biggest Pink Power Luncheon yet, on Oct. 21, with close to 190 attendees! Dr. Annelise Nguyen, toxicologist in Diagnostic Medicine & Pathobiology in K-State’s College of Veterinary Medicine, presented “Understanding the Origin of and Therapies for Breast Cancer.” Co-sponsored by Komen Kansas, this special event offers free lunch, breast cancer-related information, exhibits by local health-related resources and door prizes.  More info is on our website.


19th Annual Rob Regier Memorial Golf Tournament

Regier Family 2016The 19th Annual Rob Regier Memorial Golf Tournament was Oct. 7 at Colbert Hills Golf Course in Manhattan. It raised more than $23,000 for K-State cancer research!

K-State Marching Band at Regier Golf Tournament 2016
We got a surprise visit from the K-State Marching Band during their Friday night pre-game pub crawl!

The tournament honors Rob Regier, a K-State grad in pre-dentistry who died of cancer at age 26. It is hosted by the Regier Family, of Overland Park. We are so grateful for their support! Thanks also to premier sponsor Grand Mère Development.

Mark your calendars for the 20th tournament Oct. 20!



Dr. Richard Rosenkranz

Richard Rosenkranz, in the department of food, nutrition, dietetics & health, was featured in the K-State news story, “Winning the war: How to persuade children to eat more veggies.”



Raquel Ortega

Raquel Ortega, senior in chemistry working with Dr. Stefan Bossmann, was featured in the K-State news story, “Undergraduate research helps Ortega find opportunities to advance, refine career goals.”




Dr. Christer Aakeroy

Christer Aakeroy, chemistry, was selected for prestigious Higuchi-KU Endowment Research Achievement Award. read more



Dr. Peter Dorhout presents Dr. Rollie Clem with K-INBRE mentoring award


Rollie Clem, biology, awarded the Joan S. Hunt Distinguished Mentoring Award by the Kansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence Program, or K-INBRE. read more


Dr. Emily McLaurin


Emily McLaurin, chemistry, earned a National Science Foundation CAREER award of more than $700,000 to develop a more efficient and safer way of etching semiconductor nanocrystals. read more


Dr. David Poole


David Poole and team’s paper “Critical Power: An Important Fatigue Threshold in Exercise Physiology,” was published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. read more



Dr. Bret Flanders


Bret Flanders, physics, developed a gold nanowire device that may benefit biomedical professionals and the patients they serve during electrode and organ transplant procedures. read more


Dr. Zhilong YangZhilong Yang, biology, is on the team that received an NIH award to establish a research center on chemical biology of infectious disease, an NIH Center for Biomedical Research Excellence.

Yang also published “Ribosome Profiling Reveals Translational Upregulation of Cellular Oxidative Phosphorylation mRNAs During Vaccinia Virus-induced Host Shutoff” in the Journal of Virology. read article abstract and scientific importance

Dr. Masaki Tamura


Masa Tamura, anatomy & physiology, and team received a $150,000 NIH phase 1 business development grant for aerosolized platinum nanoparticle chemotherapy for lung cancer.

Annelise Nguyen
, diagnostic medicine & pathobiology; Raelene Wouda and Mary Lynn Higginbotham, clinical sciences; and Mark Weis, anatomy & physiology, were featured in Seek, K-State’s research magazine. Read “Dog’s best friend: Humans are fetching up new ideas to improve health of canine companions”



undergrad Vaithish Velazhahan


Vaithish Velazhahan, junior in microbiology and medical biochemistry working with Dr. Kathrin Schrick, received a $500 Outstanding Student Scholarship from Mortar Board. read more



undergrad Molly Zych


Molly Zych, junior in biology working with Dr. Erika Geisbrecht, Ruben Shrestha, doctoral student in chemistry working with Dr. Ping Li, and Velazhahan (above) were honored for their biomedical research presentations at the K-INBRE Symposium in January. read more


Kathlyn Gomendoza receiving award at CRA Banquet


Kathlyn Gomendoza, senior in biology working with Dr. Lorena Passarelli, and Velazhahan (above) are among 40 Kansas students selected to present their research at Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol Feb. 15.



Zheng Zhao, doctoral student in biological & agricultural engineering working with Dr. Mei He, was selected to present at Research and the State. read more

Bo Hao, graduate student in chemistry working with Dr. Duy Hua, was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. read more

Luke Kicklighter


Luke Kicklighter, senior in microbiology working with Dr. Sherry Fleming, was selected to serve as a K-State Undergraduate Research Ambassador. He and five other students offer presentations about the benefits of undergraduate research and how to get involved. read more



Jorge Mendoza CRA '08 '09


Jorge Mendoza, a 2010 graduate in biology and Cancer Research Award recipient in ’08 and ’09, was recognized with the K-State Alumni Association Student Alumni Board’s Distinguished Young Alumni Award. He will give a presentation on campus Feb. 28. read more


We’d love to hear from alumni impacted by our programs! Please get in touch with Marcia Locke at marcia@ksu.edu. And watch for our Alumni Survey going out soon!


Thomas Williams
2016-2017 undergraduate Cancer Research Awardee Thomas Williams

Thanks to our generous supporters, including a special directed gift from Les & Virginia Clow, we were able to invest $336,093 in K-State cancer research and education last fall! Our competitive awards foster excellence among K-State cancer research faculty and students, and help advance the most promising research projects. Awards are offered each semester. Spring award applications are due March 1.

Faculty Awards

We awarded $114,000 in Innovative Research Awards for six research projects spanning four departments and $24,768 to support three laboratory equipment purchases. View full list of faculty awardees.

Student Awards

Forty-seven outstanding students were selected for our undergraduate Cancer Research Award program, which offers faculty-mentored laboratory research experiences and $1,000 awards to each student.

The students co-wrote research proposals with center-affiliated faculty and are conducting their studies this semester. Faculty mentors receive $1,000 per student to cover research expenses. We’ll have our annual awards banquet to recognize these students April 21.

Travel awards totaling $2,325 were provided to three graduate students and post-doctoral fellows to support their attendance at professional meetings to present their research. View full list of student awardees.

K-State Fighting for a Cure Day Oct. 8

SnyderShirt2016Show your pride in K-State cancer research with one of our new Fighting for a Cure shirts!

Wear the shirt to the home football game or anywhere Oct. 8 for the 3rd Annual K-State Fighting for a Cure Day. Join First Lady of K-State Football Sharon Snyder and the Snyder family, Emmy Award-winning actor and K-State alum Eric Stonestreet, K-State Band Director Frank Tracz and many other Wildcats in celebrating K-State’s fight against cancer and honoring the K-State family’s cancer survivors and researchers.

Eric Stonestreet wearing Cure shirtGet the shirt!  This year’s shirt has a neutral, pink-free design. It’s available from our center for $20. All proceeds support K-State cancer research and education. And we ship! More details are on our Fighting for a Cure Shirt webpage.

Spread the word!  Post photos on social media of you and your friends wearing the shirt along with the hashtag #HelpKStateFightCancer! See past photos on our Facebook page: 2015, 2014 (you don’t need a Facebook account to view them).

Tailgate with us Oct. 8! Tailgate Party Graphic On K-State Fighting for a Cure Day, cheer on the ‘Cats with us at our Tailgate Party in Cat Town!

Thanks to everyone who has supported this shirt campaign the past few years! You raised $20,000 and immeasurable awareness for K-State cancer research and education!


All Upcoming Events: Regier Golf Tournament, Tailgate Party and more

The 19th annual Rob Regier Memorial Golf Tournament will be at 1 p.m., Oct. 7, at Colbert Hills. Check-in opens at 11 a.m. Rob was a K-State graduate in pre-dentistry who passed away from cancer at age 26. The tournament is hosted by his family.


2016 K-State Fighting for a Cure ShirtUnite in the fight by wearing your K-State ‘Fighting for a Cure’ Shirt Sat., Oct. 8, to the home football game or anywhere in celebration of K-State’s fight against cancer as well as Breast Cancer Awareness Month! Proceeds from shirt sales support cancer research and education at K-State.


Tailgate Party GraphicTailgate without the work! Celebrate K-State Fighting for a Cure Day and cheer on the ‘Cats with us Oct. 8 at our Tailgate Party in Cat Town.


Sunny 102.5 logosnydershirt2016forwebsiteThe Coach Bill Snyder & Sunny 102.5 Wildcat Challenge to Tackle Cancer takes place throughout the football season.



Pink Power Luncheon GraphicOur 7th annual Pink Power Luncheon will be Oct. 21. K-State toxicologist Dr. Annelise Nguyen will present “Understanding the Origin of and Therapies for Breast Cancer.” This event is full, but we’ve started a waiting list.


MikeHagenseeWe will sponsor a George S. Bascom Memorial Lecture on Current Issues in Clinical Medicine at 7 p.m. Nov. 3 in the K-State Student Union Little Theatre. Michael E. Hagensee, Professor, Section of Infectious Disease, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, will present “HPV vaccination: from laboratory to…bedside?”


Other activities include our fall award application deadline of Oct. 3 and  Advisory Council meeting Oct. 1. Events are listed on our Upcoming Events webpage.

Research News & Achievements


Toxicologist’s work featured in Science as Art exhibition

Annelise Nguyen and her science art“Eye of the Storm,” an image captured by Annelise Nguyen, diagnostic medicine/pathobiology, was among nine artistic images selected by the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute (KCALSI) for its third annual Science to Art exhibition and fundraiser auction.

The exhibition provides a platform for scientists to display and describe their research through the visual arts. Funds raised by the auction benefit STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) education in the community.

“Eye of the Storm” shows cell-to-cell communication proteins in human breast cancer tissue. read more

Biochemist studies fruit fly to understand Parkinson’s disease, muscle wasting

Erika GeisbrechtDr. Erika Geisbrecht, biochemistry and molecular biophysics, is studying the fruit fly, or Drosophila melanogaster, to understand a gene called clueless, or clu. Geisbrecht and her team have found a connection between clu and genes that cause Parkinson’s disease.

read more


Pond scum and the gene pool: One critical gene in green algae responsible for multicellular evolution, understanding of cancer origin

Cell ImageBrad Olson, biology, and an international team of researchers found a single gene is responsible for the evolution of multicellular organisms. The study is published in a recent issue of Nature Communications.

read more


Professors’ research shows moderate exercise may help cancer treatments

Dr. Brad BehnkeBrad Behnke and David Poole, exercise physiology, have shown that moderate exercise can increase effectiveness of cancer treatments. read Collegian story





Dr. Susan Sun


Susan Sun, grain science and industry, was named a fellow of the American Society of Agricultural & Biological Engineers. read more




Dr. Mark Haub

Mark Haub was named Department Head for food, nutrition, dietetics and health department.





Melissa RileyMelissa Riley, junior in animal sciences and industry working with Bruce Schultz in anatomy and physiology, was one of only four students in the nation selected as a 2016 Integrative Organismal Systems Physiology Fellow. read more



Muriel EatonMuriel Eaton, senior in biochemistry working with Jeroen Roelofs in biology, was awarded Duke Summer Undergraduate Research in Pharmacology and Cancer Biology fellowship.

Eaton is also featured in this inspirational KSU Foundation story about how philanthropy has made it possible for her to not only attend K-State but be involved in neurological protein research and other activities K-State has to offer.



Adam SchiefereckeAdam Schieferecke, senior in microbiology working with Stefan Rothenburg in biology, was a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow at the Mayo Clinic this past summer.

Inaugural Walk Kansas 5K for the Fight was a great success!

WK5K flag & bannerAbout 95 people from across Kansas gathered on the Pedestrian Mall outside our center in Chalmers Hall May 7 to participate in the inaugural Walk Kansas 5K for the Fight and 1.5-mile fun walk. The weather was perfect, the crowd was fun and the event raised $1,025 for K-State cancer research!

We are so grateful to K-State Research & Extension (KSRE), the coordinators of the acclaimed Walk Kansas health initiative, for supporting us! 5K Starting LineThe partnership is perfect since exercise, good nutrition and maintaining a healthy weight all help reduce cancer risk. Many thanks to the “WK5K” planning committee, especially Sharolyn Jackson, Walk Kansas state coordinator; Katie Allen, KSRE communications specialist; and JCRC affiliated researcher Dr. Ric Rosenkranz, department of food, nutrition, dietetics & health.

Team Hartley ran in memory of their father/father-in-law/grandfather, J. Herbert Hartley, a K-State alum who passed away in June 2015 from stomach cancer.
Team Hartley ran in memory of their father/father-in-law/grandfather, J. Herbert Hartley, a K-State alum who died from stomach cancer in June 2015.

We also thank longtime JCRC supporter Sunny 102.5 FM for donating a live remote broadcast, p.a. services and bottled water. Sunny’s presence made it even more fun! Thanks also to Pat Melgares of Manhattan Cross Country Club and Let’s Go Run, for the excellent and discounted timing service and extra guidance! And we couldn’t have pulled it all off without our event-day volunteers, which included K-State students and KSRE professionals.

John Anderson & Ian Harmon
Sunny 102.5 FM show host John Anderson and K-State Cancer Fighters club president Ian Harmon

Next year’s WK5K is planned for the same weekend, Sat. May 6, 2017. We plan to add even more fun elements for all, so mark your calendar and start training!


More Successful Events!

Pink & Purple Polyester Party raised $8,300!

Polyester Party 2016You could feel the grooviness in the air at the Pink & Purple Polyester Party April 22. About 200 party-goers, decked out in pink, purple and retro attire, filled the Houston Street Ballroom in support of K-State cancer research! They boogied down to live music from Disco Dick & the Mirrorballs, cheered on costume contest participants, and stuffed cash into blinged-out bras created by local businesses and modeled by easy-going K-State students!Polyester Party Bra

The party raised $8,300! We extend big thanks to the wonderful planning committee, major sponsor CivicPlus and all the other sponsors, as well as the party-goers and other supporters. It was a truly unique and fun party! You can view photos on our Facebook.

Next year’s party will be Fri., April 7, 2017!

Thanks, “P4” Committee!
Dr. Thad & Shannon Schneider, Flint Hills Pain Management

John & Cindy La Barge, J & C Imaging
Bobbi French, G. Thomas Jewelers
Patrick Lee, N Zone
Missy & Mick Tener
Dave Lewis, Dave Lewis Entertainment
Brooke Minihan


Kaw Valley Rodeo Association’s Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign raised $5,000

Dr. Gene Klingler, Bud Cox & Dr. Rob Denell

The 10th annual Tough Enough to Wear Pink Rodeo and inaugural BBQ fundraiser at Cox Bros. BBQ raised about $5,000 this year! We thank the Kaw Valley Rodeo Association and its “pink committee,” as well as major sponsors Women’s Health Group and Cox Bros. BBQ and all the other sponsors and event attendees!




Mason’s Wish raised $21,660

Mason holding checkMason’s Wish, a charity that raises funds for K-State cancer research, recently donated $21,660! Their main fundraiser is an annual golf tournament sponsored by Western States Fire Protection in Colorado. Big thanks to both of them and their supporters!

Mason’s Wish is a charity started and managed by Mason Wolfe and her mom Nancy Wolfe, a 1990 K-State alumna, with support from family and friends. To date, they have raised almost $160,000 for K-State cancer research by selling candles, games, t-shirts and other items, and holding benefit events. They started the charity after Mason’s father, Fred Wolfe, a 1993 K-State alum, was diagnosed with cancer in 2007. She wanted to do something to not feel hopeless and to help her dad and other families.