Kansas State University


Johnson Cancer Research Center Newsletter

Happy New Year!

As we begin 2015, we’d like to thank you for being part of our 2014! Whether you gave a gift, participated in a fundraiser or other activity, pursued challenging research, or simply spread the word about us, you were critical to our success and we are grateful! We hope the accomplishments and efforts discussed here inspire you to keep helping K-State fight cancer in 2015.

On that note, mark your calendars for Fri., April 10, when the Pink & Purple Polyester Party returns better than ever! More details are below.

In this issue:

Subscribe to our e-newsletter by emailing cancerresearch@k-state.edu.
Learn more about us at cancer.k-state.edu.
with us on Facebook and Twitter.
Send us your stories and photos related to K-State cancer research.

Faculty and student achievements

Faculty Honors

Brown,SueHiguchiSmallerSusan Brown, biology, received a Higuchi-KU Endowment Research Achievement Award which annually recognizes outstanding accomplishment in research by four faculty members at Kansas Board of Regents universities. Dr. Brown was honored for her work in developing a model system for genetic and molecular studies on the red flour beetle. read more

Stephen Keith Chapes, biology, received the highest honor of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research. Dr. Chapes studies the impact of space flight and gravity on the immune system. read more

Welti,RuthAAASSpotlightRuth Welti, biology, was spotlighted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest scientific society. She is one of 20 K-State AAAS fellows. read more

Stefan Rothenburg, biology, was appointed to the editorial board of the top-ranked Journal of Virology. read more

Kathrin Schrick, biology, and team’s publication in the August issue of BMC Biology was recommended by the Faculty of 1000 for special significance in its field. The Faculty of 1000 is an international group of biomedical scientists that designate new research articles for potential high impact. read moreRobGovBrownbackShrunk

Rob Denell, our center’s director and a university distinguished professor of biology, was honored for 40 years of service to the State of Kansas. read more


A patent was awarded to K-State for research conducted by Duy Hua, chemistry; Annelise Nguyen, toxicology; and Dolores Takemoto, biochemistry (emeritus). They developed synthetic compounds, called quinolines, that can restart communication between cells if those communication channels have closed due to a disease. It could potentially be used for treating cancer. read more

sun, susanSusan Sun, grain science and bio- and agro-engineering, and team developed a hydrogel that was issued a patent. The jelly-like substance may be used for biomedical applications ranging from cell culture and drug delivery (including anticancer drugs) to repairing and replacing tissue, organs and cartilage. read more

Sherry Fleming, biology, and John Tomich, biochemistry, received a patent for their use of a peptide that prevents tissue damage. The work could lead to new ways to treat both tissue damaged by heart attack or stroke, and cancer. read more


IMG_0018cropKatie Heinrich, kinesiology, was awarded a $2.52 million grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to test the effects of high-intensity functional training on changes in body composition, health and fitness as compared to usual Army physical readiness training. read more Continue reading “Faculty and student achievements”

Highlights of fall activities

Pink Power Luncheon Oct. 17???????????????????????????????

Our 5th annual Pink Power Luncheon for breast cancer awareness on Oct. 17 had 150 attendees again this year! The guest speaker, Dr. Susan Krigel, clinical psychologist with the Midwest Cancer Alliance, an outreach arm of the University of Kansas Cancer Center, presented “Chemobrain” and What You Can Do About It, a topic appreciated by many. We thank Komen Kansas for supporting this event. We’ve shared photos on Facebook.

K-State Fighting for a Cure Shirt

CoachBillSnyderK-State fans bought thousands of our Fighting for a Cure shirts in 2014, raising significant awareness of K-State cancer research, and $15,000 to support it!

We thank everybody who bought shirts and the many media outlets, businesses and volunteers who helped promote and sell them! Special thanks to Varney’s and N Zone for helping sell shirts and donating proceeds! We couldn’t have gone as big without them!

Check out the many great photos of friends who supported our #HelpKStateFightCancer social media campaign!

Powercat Gameday crew
Powercat Gameday crew, including former K-State and Kansas City Chief football player Kevin Lockett

Fighting for a Cure Shirt Day Oct. 4

LaBargeCrewInStandsMany K-Staters united in wearing their K-State Fighting for a Cure shirts to the home football game and elsewhere Oct. 4 in celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and K-State cancer research!

We appreciated the support of First Lady of K-State Football Sharon Snyder and the Snyder family, K-State President and First Lady Drs. Kirk & Noel Schulz, and so many others who showed their pride in K-State’s fight against cancer. We also thank The Pride of Wildcat Land Marching Band for recognizing K-State cancer researchers and survivors during their halftime performance that day!

Shirts are still available and we’re planning another Shirt Day in October. Watch our newsletter, Facebook and Twitter for updates.

Tailgate Party Oct. 4

tailgate party 2014

We had a great time cheering on the ‘Cats with friends at our tailgate party in Cat Town Oct. 4! Join us for great food, beverages and company at our next tailgate party in October! Continue reading “Highlights of fall activities”

$227,500 awarded last fall

Thanks to our generous supporters, we were able to invest $227,500 in K-State cancer research and education last fall! Our competitive awards encourage excellence among K-State cancer research faculty and students, and ensure we help advance the most promising cancer research projects. Awards are offered each semester and spring award applications are due March 1.

Faculty Awards

We awarded $105,500 in Innovative Research Awards for seven cancer research projects in six departments, and $25,000 to support three laboratory equipment purchases. View list of all faculty awardees.

Dr. Mei He received a $20,000 Innovative Research Award.
Dr. Mei He (left) received a $20,000 Innovative Research Award to develop a diagnostic test for ovarian cancer.

Student Awards

Forty-six 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.

German Cuevas
German Cuevas is a three-time Cancer Research Awardee working in Dr. Lorena Passarelli’s lab.

The students co-wrote research proposals with center-affiliated faculty and will carry out their research this semester. Faculty mentors receive $1,000 per student to cover research expenses. A banquet to honor the students will be held March 27. More about the program and awardees is in our news release.

Travel awards totaling $5,000 were provided to four graduate students and post-doctoral fellows to support their attendance at professional meetings to present their research.

View list of all student awardees.


Upcoming events

Pink & Purple Polyester Party

Friday, April 10, 2015
Houston Street Ballroom
Manhattan, Kansas

Scroggs Family at Pink & Purple Polyester Party
Scroggs Family

Dig out your polyester bell bottoms and platform shoes, grab your friends, and boogie down with a Kansas City disco band at the Pink & Purple Polyester Party on April 10! Play crazy games, vote for your favorite blinged-out bra, and enjoy tasty treats and a fun photo booth…all while helping K-State fight cancer!

Visit our website for information and ‘like’ the Pink & Purple Polyester Party Facebook page for updates on entertainment, prizes, auction items, food and sponsors.

We are very grateful to the planning 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; Arrica Wallace and Dave Lewis.

Local Screening of Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies, a PBS documentary

Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies,” based on the 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, by Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, will premiere as a PBS documentary from preeminent filmmaker Ken Burns. This three-part show will air at 8-10 p.m. March 30, 31 and April 1 on KTWU, PBS in Topeka. KTWU will conclude the event with a live, viewer-interactive studio production at 8 p.m. April 2.

We are pleased to sponsor a screening event at the Manhattan Public Library Sat., March 28, in the auditorium. Join us at 2 p.m. for pre-screening activities prior to the hour-long preview of the documentary at 3 p.m.

January is Radon Action Month

Radon, a gas released by decaying uranium in the soil and found in some homes, is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., after smoking. Our research affiliate Bruce Snead, director of the Kansas Radon Program, is featured in this informative video from Wichita’s KSN News. We encourage you to watch it and get an inexpensive test kit for your home. The Kansas Radon Program website has lots of helpful information.


Jan. 27 – Undergraduate Cancer Research Orientation
Mar. 1 – Spring Award Application Deadline
Mar. 27 – Undergraduate Cancer Research Awards Banquet
Mar. 28 – Advisory Council Spring Meeting
April 10 – Pink & Purple Polyester Party
July 24 – Tough Enough to Wear Pink Rodeo



This is a busy and exciting time for us as we prepare for several educational, fundraising and community outreach events, as well as our fall awards cycle, when we’ll select K-State’s next student cancer researchers. We hope you’ll join in at least one of our activities!

In this issue:

Subscribe to our e-newsletter by emailing cancerresearch@k-state.edu.
Learn more about us at cancer.k-state.edu.
Send us
your historical stories and photos related to the cancer research center.
with us on Facebook and Twitter.

K-State Fighting for a Cure Shirt Day October 4

Ladies' & Men's Shirts

Help K-State fight cancer!
Get the shirt. Wear it October 4.

Wear the K-State Fighting for a Cure shirt to the game—or anywhere!—Oct. 4, in celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and K-State cancer research!

Join first lady of K-State Football Sharon Snyder, university president and first lady Kirk & Noel Schulz, and many other K-State fans as they show their pride in the university’s fight against cancer Oct. 4.

Help spread the word! Post pics on Facebook and Twitter of yourself and friends wearing the shirt, and use #HelpKStateFightCancer hashtag.

Get the shirt! They are $20 and offered in unisex, ladies’ junior and youth sizes. They’re available at our center or shipped from our webstore sponsored by N Zone. They are also available at Varney’s. We thank N Zone and Varney’s for their support! Visit our Fighting for a Cure Shirt webpage for more details.

We’re having a Tailgate Party Oct. 4, too! We’d love for you to join us!

Upcoming Events

The 17th annual Rob Regier Memorial Golf Tournament will be at 1 p.m., Oct. 3, at Manhattan Country Club. Rob was a K-State graduate in pre-dentistry who passed away from cancer at age 26. His family hosts the tournament in his memory. Players and sponsors are welcome!


Tailgate Party Graphic
Tailgate without the work! Come to our Tailgate Party in Cat Town Oct. 4.


Men's Fighting for a Cure Shirt
Show your K-State pride by wearing the ‘Fighting for a Cure’ Shirt Sat., Oct. 4!


Jefferson Science Fellow Distinguished Lecture
at 4 p.m. Fri., Oct. 10, 221 Ackert Hall. The speaker will be Mitchell Turker, Prof. of Molecular & Medical Genetics, Oregon Health & Science University.


Pink Power Luncheon Graphic
Our 5th annual Pink Power Luncheon for breast cancer awareness will be Oct. 17. The presenter, Susan Krigel, clinical psychologist with the Midwest Cancer Alliance and KU Cancer Center, will discuss “chemobrain.” Reservations required.

Continue reading “Upcoming Events”

Research News


Dr. Deryl Troyer
Dr. Deryl Troyer
, anatomy & physiology, received Phi Kappa Phi honor society’s Scholar Award.  read announcement

Dr. Michal ZolkiewskiDr. Michal Zolkiewski, biochemistry & molecular biophysics, led a study that could result in the first universal treatment for dystonia, a neurological disorder that affects nearly half a million Americans.  read news release

Dr. Annelise Nguyen

Dr. Annelise Nguyen, Diagnostic Medicine & Pathobiology, was appointed to serve a 4-year term on the National Institutes of Health’s Literature Selection Technical Review Committee for the National Library of Medicine. The appointment is based on quality of clinical and research accomplishments, publications in scientific journals, and other significant medical and scientific activities, achievements and honors.

Benton McGivern receiving undergraduate Cancer Research Award
Benton McGivern, senior in kinesiology and pre-medicine in Dr. Susan Brown‘s lab in biology, was named an outstanding graduating senior in K-State College of Human Ecologyread news release

Cancer research faculty retirements
Gary Conrad and Jean-Pierre Perchellet, both professors in the Division of Biology

New cancer research faculty
Thomas Mueller, biology; Ryan Rafferty, chemistry; Kristopher Silver, anatomy & physiology; Timothy Durrett, biochemisty; Mei He, biological & agricultural engineering (in Olathe)

Thanks to A.D. John Currie, Local Middle Schoolers and More

A.D. John Currie helped shine national spotlight on K-State cancer research

K-State Athletics Director John Currie accepted a Chillin’ 4 Charity challenge July 15 from another university A.D., allowing ice water to be dumped over his head. In addition to supporting the event’s charity, the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, he included the Johnson Cancer Research Center. He in turn challenged some other A.D.s and after they accepted, he stayed true to his word with a donation to our center. news release


Middle school students gave gift in memory of former teacher

Anthony Middle School's Silver 7 Team
Anthony M.S. Silver 7 Team with the late Lisa Morgan’s children Luke & Anna Stramel

Anthony Middle School’s Silver 7 Team–that is, the 7th graders and their teachers–always sets aside a little of the money they raise for celebrations, to donate to a charity in Manhattan. For the past two years they’ve chosen our center.

Some of them were introduced to us in 2010, when they were still at Marlatt Elementary School. They had witnessed their teacher, Lisa Morgan, fight and succumb to cancer, and participated in a school-wide t-shirt fundraiser that honored her in her final days and raised money for our center.

Last year, when it was time for their middle school class to select a beneficiary, they voted to donate to our center in her memory. This year, they continued their support with another $250 gift.

We are impressed by these students who keep giving in Lisa Morgan’s memory, and honored to receive their meaningful gifts. Maybe in a few years, one of the Silver 7 kids will receive one of our student research awards that they’ve helped fund!


Coach Snyder & Sunny 102.5 challenge Wildcats to tackle cancer

Sunny & McDonald'sWe are grateful again to K-State Head Football Coach Bill Snyder and Sunny 102.5 FM for sponsoring the Wildcat Challenge to Tackle Cancer. They recorded radio ads that are being played all over the state and sent letters asking people to join their challenge. Sunny 102.5 is including us in several promotional activities and will have their annual, live fundraiser on Fri., Oct. 3, from the rooftop of McDonald’s on 4th Street, in Manhattan.


Mason’s Wish/Western States Fire Protection golf tournament raised $20,240

Mason's Wish Golf Tournament
Jeff Daane, Western States Fire Protection; Mason Wolfe; Eric Holderness, KSU Foundation; Rob Denell, director of Johnson Cancer Research Center; and Fred Wolfe

Hundreds of miles west of us in Castle Rock, Colo., a golf tournament on August 1 raised $20,240 for K-State cancer research! Western States Fire Protection held their annual golf tournament to support Mason’s Wish, a charity that raises funds for our center.

Run by Mason Wolfe and her mom Nancy Wolfe, a 1990 K-State alumna, with support from family and friends, Mason’s Wish has raised more than $100,000 for us 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.

Nancy recently joined our Advisory Council and her other daughter Morgan became a K-State student this fall. Mason dreams of becoming a brain surgeon and is considering attending K-State in a couple of years.

2014 Conquest story about Mason’s Wish


Tough Enough to Wear Pink raised $9,000

Tough Enough to Wear Pink RodeoThe 8th annual Tough Enough to Wear Pink night at the Kaw Valley PRCA Rodeo July 25 raised awareness and funds for K-State cancer research. Rodeo spectators, participants and even horses wore pink! A pink balloon launch and cancer survivor recognition ceremony honored all who have ever faced cancer. The Silver Buckle Drill Team from McPherson did a special breast cancer awareness performance and Guardians of the Ribbon brought their pink fire truck, Nicki, from Wichita again.

The Kaw Valley Rodeo Association’s TETWP committee also held another successful spaghetti dinner, sponsored by Cox Bros. BBQ and First Presbyterian Church.

We are so grateful to the Kaw Valley Rodeo Association and the “Pink Committee” for choosing to support local cancer research! This year’s Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign raised almost $9,000! That brings their total to $67,000!