University of Georgia

Collaborative cancer research on display at upcoming UGA-Augusta joint retreat

UGA Cancer Center Director Eileen Kennedy (right), shown with former lab technician Jack LaClair, said the upcoming joint retreat between University of Georgia and Augusta University is an opportunity for cancer researchers from both institutions to form new collaborations and recruit new students to their labs. (Photo by Lauren Corcino)

After a five-year hiatus, the University of Georgia Cancer Center and the Georgia Cancer Center (GCC) at Augusta University (AU) will again hold a joint retreat on Dec. 15 on the AU campus in Augusta. Open to faculty and students, the retreat is a platform for investigators to gain insights into the diverse landscape of cancer research and build connections with peers from 15 different UGA departments.

Topics to be presented at the retreat encompass a broad spectrum, reflecting the multifaceted nature of cancer research. From molecular biology and genetics to clinical trials and patient care, this event is a nexus where many areas of expertise converge, fostering interdisciplinary collaboration and knowledge exchange.

“The work that will be described in the retreat can range from fundamental mechanistic things, such as understanding signaling pathways that are becoming anomalous due to a cancer state, all the way up to developing cancer therapeutics that can effectively go after new targets,” said Eileen Kennedy, Georgia Athletic Association Professor in the College of Pharmacy and director of the UGA Cancer Center.

Kennedy, who helped organize the event, said graduate students will showcase their research and engage in discussions with peers and experts from both universities. Faculty members also participate, seeking out potential collaborations, learning more about ongoing projects, and exploring grant opportunities to advance their work.

The event welcomes all those interested in cancer research who are eager to expand their knowledge and participate in the research sphere, Kennedy said. And she has a particular goal to attract more students.

“How do we get people who aren’t involved in research but might be interested in a medical degree involved?” she said. “This is a great time to come in, meet the different investigators, see the different types of research, and potentially find new opportunities for undergraduate research.”

The primary objective is to foster increased collaboration between UGA and AU. Both institutions benefit from the other in facilities and research, broadening the state’s cancer research community.

“There’s a lot of clinical research happening at Augusta because it’s affiliated with a hospital,” Kennedy said. “We don’t have that resource, but we have a lot of active cancer research. So we’re trying to sort of strengthen the two programs by bringing our strengths together.”

The retreat’s keynote speaker is Maureen Murphy, professor and program leader for molecular and cellular oncogenesis at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia. Murphy studies genetic variants of an essential tumor suppressor protein called p53.

The UGA-GCC Cancer Retreat is free for UGA faculty, staff, and students. For more information, visit the website GCC/UGA Cancer Retreat.