Cancer Center Stories

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People and Progress

Recent leadership announcements, program updates, and Cancer Center milestones.

Himburg Lab

Dr. Heather Himburg Nationally Recognized for Research Contributions in Radiation Oncology

Dr. Himburg’s recent accomplishments shine a light on the outstanding research being done in her lab, and especially in the MCW Department of Radiation Oncology.

Trainee Symposium

2nd Annual Trainee Symposium Celebrates Learners Pushing Past Barriers to Unlock Cancer Discoveries

More than 170 attendees gathered at the Milwaukee County Zoo’s Zoofari Conference Center to recognize and learn from next-generation cancer scientists.

Improving Heart Health in Cancer Survivors

Dr. Chun Liu Awarded MCW Cancer Center Pilot Funding to Improve Heart Health in Cancer Survivors

The innovative study investigates how certain drugs called tyrosine kinase inhibitors can lead to heart problems in patients with cancer, especially those in underserved communities.

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MCW Blood Cancer Experts Showcase the Latest Research at 65th Annual ASH Meeting

MCW’s hematology and oncology group co-authored a total of 294 presentations that were shared at the global event through oral abstracts, poster talks, and educational sessions.

Cancer Research Forum

Cancer Research Forum Celebrates Its First Year of Driving Scientific Collaboration and Innovation

The collaborative meeting and social event creates a space for Cancer Center members to share unpublished research and gather quality feedback from peers.

Xuelin Lou, PhD

Faculty Feature: Xuelin Lou, MD, PhD

Dr. Lou is a professor in the Department of Cell Biology, Neurobiology, and Anatomy; a member of MCW’s Neuroscience Research Center; and Director of MCW’s Advanced Cell Imaging Core.

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Faculty Feature: Angela Steineck, MD

Dr. Steineck’s research focuses on novel therapies and interventions to improve clinical care, quality of life, and survivorship in children with cancer.

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Faculty Feature: Todd Miller, PhD

Dr. Miller’s lab aims to understand the causes of drug resistance in breast cancer, and to develop improved treatment strategies to prevent and overcome it.

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MCW Researchers Awarded More Than $4.5M Over Five Years to Improve Outcomes for Patients with Cancer

MCW cancer researchers share how their recently funded projects have the potential to improve treatment, outcomes, and quality of life for patients living with cancer.

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MCW Cancer Center Celebrates the Advancement of Women Scientists

MCW celebrated a historic milestone as it honored a record-breaking 25 women being promoted to the rank of full professor within the institution; eight of the newly appointed professors are members of the Cancer Center.

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Faculty Feature: Francesca Marassi, PhD

In her new role as associate director of shared resources, Dr. Marassi will partner in the leadership and development of each of the center’s six shared resource cores.

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Faculty Feature: Staci Young, PhD

In her new role as associate director of community outreach and engagement, Dr. Staci Young will lead the team responsible for advancing clinical, research, and policy initiatives that extend the center’s reach with under-resourced groups, and improve access to cancer prevention, life-saving clinical trials, and survivor support groups.

Lisa Sanchez-Johnsen, PhD, MS

Faculty Feature: Lisa Sanchez-Johnsen, PhD, MS

As the inaugural Associate Director of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging (EDIB), Dr. Sanchez-Johnsen is focused on ensuring equity, diversity, and inclusion are an integral part of the Cancer Center’s culture and celebrated through its people, processes, research, and strategic investments.

provider with patient

MCW Researchers Help Inform Clinical Guidelines for Treatment of Endometrial Cancer

Endometrial cancer is the most common cancer of the female reproductive organs. MCW researchers recently led a task force that investigated findings from several clinical trials, resulting in new clinical guidelines for patient-centered care.

woman writing on whiteboard

Partnership with UW-Milwaukee Aims to Foster a Lifetime Commitment to Science

The MCW Cancer Center recently awarded 10 Wisconsin students $100,000 in scholarships to pursue cancer research careers. The educational program provides an immersive experience that enables students to work alongside nationally-recognized scientists.

Clinical Trials

Featured studies paving the way for new treatments and lifestyle interventions for patients with cancer.

Patient getting blood transfusion

MCW's CAR T-Cell Lab Helps Scientists Bring Lifesaving Therapies to Patients with Blood Cancers

Cancer investigators recently treated the 100th patient in an ongoing clinical trial that uses an in-house manufactured, dual-targeted CAR-T therapy for patients with B-cell malignancies.

Medicare Enrollment Form

Center Leads Groundbreaking Change in Medicare Policy for MDS Patients in Need of Transplants

Decades-long research from MCW Cancer Center investigators has led to a Medicare policy change that expands coverage for certain stem cell transplants for patients with myelodysplastic syndromes.

Woman with caregiver

Patient Navigation Program Improves Access to Life-Saving Clinical Trials

In a significant stride towards inclusivity in cancer care, the MCW Cancer Center has launched a new program to improve clinical trial access in underserved communities.

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MCW Cancer Investigators Evolve Clinical Trial Design, Evaluate Outcomes that Matter to Patients

A new study reveals that many gastrointestinal cancer studies aren’t evaluating outcomes that matter to patients; MCW is working to change the paradigm.

Precision Medicine in Pancreatic Cancer

PROTECT-PANC Trial Evaluates Precision Medicine Strategies in Patients with Pancreatic Cancer

The fast-track trial bolsters MCW’s dedication to advancing precision medicine strategies across a wide spectrum of cancer types.

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JANUS Trial Improves on Past Treatment Strategies for Advanced Stage Rectal Cancer

Investigators say the phase 2 study is “transformative” because it allows patients to be managed with a watch and wait approach.

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Translational Research Unit Celebrates 10 Years of Accelerating Novel Cancer Therapies

The state-of-the-art clinical and research facility has been instrumental in advancing innovative ideas and launching practice-changing cancer clinical trials.

Hodgkin lymphoma

Novel Treatment Strategy Offers New Hope for Young Patients with Classic Hodgkin Lymphoma

In a recent trial, MCW investigators tested a new salvage therapy approach that incorporated targeted therapy, immunotherapy, and chemotherapy that may be safer and more effective than the standard of care for treating pediatric patients with relapsed cHL.

Blood Cancer

Combination of Chemotherapy and CAR-T Therapy Helps Leukemia Patients Achieve Remission

MCW Cancer Center investigators discovered that chemotherapy coupled with CAR-T infusion helped patients with acute lymphocytic leukemia achieve another remission, opening the door to promising new therapies.

Girl with Down Syndrome

Inclusion is Key to Unlocking New Therapies

MCW Cancer Center investigators are spearheading first-of-its-kind research to identify life-saving treatments for acute myeloid leukemia in children with Down Syndrome. As cancer treatments become more and more individualized, the team’s findings highlight the importance of inclusion in clinical trials.

Lymphoma Cells

Drug Therapy Offers New Hope for Patients with Mantle Cell Lymphoma

Groundbreaking results from a recent clinical trial found that Pirtobrutinib significantly improved life expectancy for patients with mantle cell lymphoma who responded poorly to other treatments. These results led to accelerated approval of Pirtobrutinib by the Food and Drug Administration.

woman looking at iPad

CAR-T Therapy Slows Multiple Myeloma in Patients Who Have Stopped Responding to Other Treatments

MCW’s Binod Dhakal, MD, presented the first results from the Phase 3 CARTITUDE-4 trial, which showed that cilta-cel reduced the risk of MM progression or death by approximately 74%.

man and woman researchers in laboratory

Patients Receive "Rockstar" Treatment for Chronic Graft-Versus-Host Disease

MCW Cancer Center scientists conducted a pivotal trial leading to the expedited approval of REZUROCK, a ground-breaking new therapy available to adult and pediatric patients that works by rebalancing a patient’s immune system.

graft versus host disease

New Trial Challenges Current Standard of Care for Graft-Versus-Host Disease

Results from a landmark clinical trial uncovered a new, more effective treatment for the prevention of graft-versus-host disease that may change the standard of care for patients with blood and marrow transplants.

Cancer in Our Community

Research insights and policies aimed at improving the life and well-being of people across Wisconsin and beyond.

Man at Conference

Lazos de Esperanza Symposium Unites the Hispanic Community Toward Life without Cancer

The bilingual event provided a space for participants to learn from experts, receive cancer screenings; and collaborate on ways to live healthier lives that reduce cancer in the Hispanic community.

Two People Praying

MCW Pilot Study Shows Churches May Play a Pivotal Role in Supporting Cancer Survivors

Researchers found that engaging African American churches in a two-day training may help provide the essential education and tools to help them create cancer support ministries.

Cancer Research Building Beam Signing

March Milestones are Just the Beginning of the Center's Plan to Transform Cancer Research and Care

The MCW Cancer Center celebrates a construction milestone for the Cancer Research Building; the launch of a new bike fundraiser; and its community impact during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

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Dr. Elizabeth Hopp Awarded Pilot Funding to Improve Outcomes for Patients with Rare Ovarian Cancer

The MCW Cancer Center has awarded Dr. Elizabeth Hopp an Our Patient Project pilot grant for her innovative research that may drive discovery of more effective treatments for ovarian cancer.

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Nature-based Interventions May Influence Health Outcomes

Cardiovascular disease and cancer are both impacted by the environment, so it’s important to understand how nature-based interventions may affect health outcomes. In a new study, MCW researchers aim to summarize evidence on the impact of greenspaces or nature-based inventions and cancer-related health outcomes.

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Socioeconomic Status May Impact Immune Function, Clinical Outcomes

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapies have shown success in treating blood cancers, inspiring scientists to evolve the therapy model for use in other cancers. A new study takes a look at how low socioeconomic environments might impact immune function and clinical outcomes.

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MCW’s Commitment to Advancing Precision Medicine ‘Levels the Playing Field’ for Patients with Cancer

A panel of MCW Cancer Center leaders share how the institution is harnessing cutting-edge precision medicine techniques at the 11th annual ACS CAN Cancer Research & Innovation Forum.


MCW Investigators Examine Nature's Impact on Human Health

Cardiovascular disease and cancer are two leading causes of death. Because both conditions are impacted by the environment, it is important to understand how using innovative, nature-based interventions may affect health outcomes for these populations.


Multicenter Study Reveals Breast Cancer Survivors Experience Accelerated Aging

MCW Cancer Center investigators partnered with leading cancer centers across the nation to examine whether cancer and its treatments accelerate aging. Their findings will help identify therapeutic interventions to prevent or slow aging.

Cancer Disparities

Featured studies on how cancer is impacting a diversity of populations.

African American contemplating

MCW Scientists Discover Chemokine Levels May Contribute to Prostate Cancer Disparities

A new study reveals that biological factors may explain racial disparities in prostate cancer lethality; the findings could help guide therapeutic approaches to improve outcomes in African American men.

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Mobile Health Technology May Improve Clinical Trial Equity

Black individuals experience the highest incidence of pancreatic cancer compared to any other ethnic or racial group in the nation. In a new study, the MCW Cancer Center and the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment aim to improve participation of Black patients in pancreatic cancer clinical trials via a mobile health technology initiative.

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Geographic Codes Identify Cervical Cancer Incidence in Uganda

Cervical cancer used to be a leading cause of death for women in the United States, but an increase in screenings over the past 40 years contributed to a decrease in women affected by this disease. For low- and middle-income countries, cervical cancer remains prevalent, particularly in Uganda.

provider and patient with device

When Treated Alike, Black Patients with Multiple Myeloma Experience Better Outcomes Than Whites

Investigators at the MCW Cancer Center and Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research are comparing the survival rates of patients with multiple myeloma. Their findings show a long history of health inequity.

Doctor with xray

Transgender and Nonbinary People, and Providers, Benefit from Better Awareness of Screening Guidelines

Screenings help catch cancer early, resulting in more promising health outcomes. While the transgender and nonbinary population is growing, the majority are unsure of when and whether to be screened. A new study points to the need for greater cancer education and care.

Cancer Discoveries

The latest cancer discoveries and innovations coming out of cancer research labs at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

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MCW Cancer Center Trainees Present Research Findings to a National Audience

Five trainees in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Fellowship Program showcased their research at the prestigious National Conference on Undergraduate Research.

Women Hugging

Collaborative Study Shows Social Well-being is Linked to Improved Immune Markers

Scientists took a closer look at an alarm marker associated with cancer progression, cardiovascular disease, viral infections, chronic fatigue, and depression.

Physician Checking Thyroid of Patient

MCW Scientists Unveil a New More Tolerable Treatment Option for Patients with Thyroid Cancer

Investigators discovered a novel combination of two drugs was powerful in killing thyroid cancer cells with RET mutations and resulted in fewer adverse effects than existing treatments.

Intestinal Imaging

MCW Scientists Discover Targeting FBXO5 May Open the Door for New Colon Cancer Treatments

New insights into a protein called FBXO5 move forward the understanding of colon cancer biology and may pave the way for transformative treatments for the disease.

Woman touching neck

MCW Researchers Use Cutting-Edge Technology to Enhance Immunotherapy in Head and Neck Cancers

A groundbreaking study showed that special T cells capable of recognizing and killing cancer cells could be taken out of patients’ tumors and made stronger to fight their disease.

Pancreatic Cancer Cells

MCW Scientists Identify Patients with Pancreatic Cancer Who May Respond to Immunotherapy

A new study has identified four distinct subtypes of pancreatic cancer, revealing that some types have a better outlook and the potential to respond better to immunotherapy.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Cells

New Research Shows N-MYC and eIF4G1 as Potential Targets for Treating Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Findings from the study may unlock new possibilities for gene-targeted therapies in people with a specific subtype of AML known as inv(16) AML, and those with AML subtypes.

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Mito-ATO Makes Immunotherapy More Potent Against Tumors, 'Shows Great Clinical Potential'

Collaborative research shows the MCW-created drug, Mito-ATO, may play a crucial role in improving cancer treatment by altering and reprogramming immune cells.

Blood Cancer Scientist

MCW Blood Cancer Scientists Analyze Protein Patterns to Predict Relapse of MDS

Examining proteins in the blood of patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) may provide insight into why some people experience relapse, even after receiving stem cell transplants.

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MCW Cancer Scientists Make a Breakthrough in Treating Aggressive Uterine Cancer

A new study is the first ever to show the anti-cancer therapeutic potential of using drugs selinexor and eribulin in uterine leiomyosarcoma.

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MCW Scientists Shed Light on Why Breast Cancer Cells Evade Endocrine Therapy

In a new study, researchers use multiplex immunofluorescence technology to help reveal why hormone therapy works for some patients with breast cancer, and not others.

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MCW scientists discover Rap1B as a potential target in cancer immunotherapy

A team of MCW cancer scientists shed light on the cell-cell interactions that take place in the tumor microenvironment. Their novel findings may open the door to new therapeutic targets that can enhance the body’s immune response against tumors.

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MR Tumor Regression Grade Can Help Oncologists Guide Treatment for Patients with Rectal Cancer

A new study is showing that when used alone, magnetic resonance (MR)-based imaging for grading tumors in patients with rectal adenocarcinoma is an insufficient tool for measuring pathologic complete response (pCR).

Researcher in lab

Scientists Identify FOXM1 Protein as a Key Driver of Myeloma Metabolism

In a recent study, investigators take a closer look at the metabolic role of genes to determine the genetic and biological pathways associated with high-risk myeloma and relapsed/refractory myeloma. The research opens the door to new therapies and prevention.


Researchers Gain New Insights Into Pancreatic Cancer Biology That May Lead to Life-saving Therapies

The study is the first to reveal the cellular origin of normal pancreatic fibroblasts and cancer-associated fibroblasts, which play an important and complex role in disease progression.

researcher with microscope

Scientists Identify Potential Target for Treating Acute Myeloid Leukemia Mutation

It typically takes more than one gene mutation for a cell to become a cancer cell. In a recent study, scientists examined how two common, co-occurring mutations influence the biology of acute myeloid leukemia, findings which could lead to new treatment discoveries.


Scientists Design Integrin Inhibitor Principle to Aid the Development of Drugs Targeting Cancer

Integrins are molecules that play an important role in cancer cell migration and survival. In a recent study, investigators developed a new design for improving the safety and efficacy of cancer treatments as well as treatments for autoimmune disease and thrombosis.

cancer cell anatomy

Investigators Find Potential Biomarker for Tumor Growth and Metastasis

MCW Cancer Center scientists found a connection between the Duffy Antigen and cancer. Their findings could lead to new cancer treatments for patients of West African descent who are at greater risk for cancer progression.