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June 3 , 2004 

Paul Taylor
ptaylor@usouthal.edu 251.461.1509 

 
USA Cancer Research Institute Announces Five New Faculty Appointments   

Standing L to R: Dr. Philip M. Wade Jr., Dr. Jingfang Ju, Dr. Hung T. Khong Seated L to R: Dr. Rajeev Samant,
Dr. Lalita Shevde-Samant

The University of South Alabama Cancer Research Institute today announced the appointment of five new faculty. These five appointments bring the total number of physicians, scientists and staff at the Institute to 37.

Drs. Philip M. Wade Jr. and Hung T. Khong, both medical oncologists, will provide adult medical oncology care. Khong, a physician-researcher, will also be involved in pre-clinical and clinical research studies. Drs. Jingfang Ju, Lalita Shevde-Samant and Rajeev Samant, all accomplished research scientists, will serve in the basic and translational science laboratories of the USA Cancer Research Institute.

Wade will serve as chief of the medical oncology service at the USA Cancer Research Institute and will have a faculty appointment as associate professor of internal medicine in the USA College of Medicine.
Khong will split his time between research and clinical activities, serving as head of the Clinical Immunotherapeutics Research Laboratory and a staff medical oncologist with the USA Cancer Research Institute. He will also have a faculty appointment as assistant professor of internal medicine at the USA College of Medicine.

Ju will serve as head of the Cancer Genomics Laboratory at the USA Cancer Research Institute and as assistant professor of pharmacology and internal medicine at the USA College of Medicine.

Samant will serve as a staff scientist in the Metastasis and Tumor Biology Research Center at the USA Cancer Research Institute and will have a faculty appointment in the USA College of Medicine as assistant professor of pharmacology.

Shevde-Samant will serve as a staff scientist in the Molecular Pathology and Diagnostics Research Center at the USA Cancer Research Institute and will have a faculty appointment in the USA College of Medicine as assistant professor of pathology.

“We are extremely pleased to announce these key hires at the USA Cancer Research Institute,” said Michael R. Boyd, M.D., Ph.D., Abraham Mitchell Chair and Director of the USA Cancer Research Institute. “The world-class talent and expertise represented by this group cover a wide array of treatment for cancer and novel research endeavors and reflects our commitment to assemble the brightest minds in cancer research and care here in Mobile.”

Prior to his appointment with the USA Cancer Research Institute, Wade was a private physician practicing in southeast Alabama with South Alabama Oncology, P.C., which has offices in Andalusia and Opp, Ala. He has also practiced in Baton Rouge, La., and Pensacola, Fla.

Wade, a native of Dover, N.J., received his doctorate of medicine degree from the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Mass. He completed his internship and residency training in internal medicine at the University of Alabama Medical Center in Birmingham, Ala.
 
From 1981 to 1982, Wade was a clinical fellow in hematology/oncology at the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. From 1982 to 1983, he was a research fellow at UVa Hospital, and served as a clinical fellow in hematology/oncology from 1983 to 1984.

He is a diplomate in the American Board of Internal Medicine, and in the subspecialties of medical oncology and hematology. He is a member of numerous professional organizations including the American Medical Association, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and the American Society of Hematology.

He has participated in several national clinical research trials, serving as an investigator for the Southeast Cancer Study Group and the Southwest Oncology Group. From 1998 to 2001, he was a principal investigator in the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project P-2 Trial, which studied the use of Tamoxifen and Raloxifen for prevention of breast cancer.

Before accepting his post at the USA Cancer Research Institute, Khong was a senior clinical fellow in the surgery branch of the National Cancer Institute located in Bethesda, Md. From 1997 to 2000, he was a clinical fellow in medical oncology in the medicine branch also at NCI.

Khong received his doctorate of medicine degree from Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pa. He completed his residency in internal medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

In 2000, Khong was awarded the NCI Center for Cancer Research Senior Fellowship Training Award, an extremely competitive three-year training grant presented to the most outstanding clinical fellows in the Center for Cancer Research at NCI.

Khong’s research centers on immunotherapy, a new and expanding field that uses the body’s natural defense mechanisms as a basis for creating new therapies for diseases and a variety of chronic medical conditions including cancer. Khong is working to develop methods to harness and enhance the body’s natural tendency to defend itself against cancer.

Khong is board certified in internal medicine and medical oncology. He has a U.S. patent pending for his identification of TRP-2 isoform that contains HLA-A2 restricted T-cell epitopes – a technology that may lead to the development of a new anti-cancer vaccine.

Prior to joining the USA Cancer Research Institute, Ju was a senior research scientist and project leader for CuraGen Corporation in New Haven, Conn. CuraGen is a genomics-based pharmaceutical company involved in developing a broad pipeline of novel pharmaceutical products to address unmet medical needs.

Ju received his master’s degree in solid state chemistry from New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, and his doctorate in molecular biology and biochemistry at the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center affiliated with the University of Southern California School of Medicine in Los Angeles. Ju completed his postdoctoral fellowship at the Yale Comprehensive Cancer Center at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

Ju’s research focus is on four main areas: the development of novel technologies for genomic and functional genomic research; the discovery of predictive and prognostic markets for various human cancers and treatments using clinical trial samples; the investigation of the molecular and cellular mechanism of newly discovered translational regulated genes related to tumor progression and drug resistance; and the investigation of non-coding RNA functions in human cancer. He holds a U.S. patent and has two pending that relate to his work.

In 1996, Ju was awarded the Glaxo Welcome Oncology Young Clinical Research Scholar Award. He was also awarded a NIH National Research Fellowship from 1999 to 2002. He is a member of the American Association of Cancer Research and the American Association for Advancement of Science.

Samant and his wife, Shevde-Samant, were recruited from UAB. The “husband and wife research team” is interested in how breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body and how to prevent this from occurring. At UAB, Samant was research instructor in the department of pathology/molecular and cellular biology.

Samant received his master’s degree in biotechnology and his doctorate in molecular biology and bacterial genetics at the Biotechnology Centre affiliated with the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay, India.

Samant‘s research interests center on the basic biology and mechanisms of cancer metastasis. He is the co-discoverer of breast cancer metastasis suppressor 1 (BRMS1), a gene on chromosome 11 that plays a role in preventing the spread of breast cancer to other parts of the body. His discovery holds the potential to improve breast cancer survival rates in the clinical setting by providing a new target for attacking breast cancer metastasis.

Prior to her appointment with the USA Cancer Research Institute, Shevde-Samant was research instructor in the department of pathology/molecular and cellular biology at UAB.

Shevde-Samant received her master’s degree in microbiology in the department of microbiology and biotechnology at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, located in Baroda, India. She earned her doctorate in tumor immunology and applied biology at the Cancer Research Institute in Bombay, India.

Shevde-Samant’s research interests focus on breast cancer. In 2000, she was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship award – and most recently, a new research grant which will partially fund her work at USA - from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Located in Dallas, this foundation has distinguished itself as a global leader in the fight against breast cancer through its support of innovative research and community-based outreach programs.

She also has had research support from the American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, and Department of Defense. She is a member of the American Association for Cancer Research and the Metastasis Research Society. She has a U.S. patent pending relating to her work with the BRMS1 antibody.

Established in December 2000, the primary objectives of the USA Cancer Research Institute are to increase care and treatment options for cancer patients in the Gulf Coast region, support advanced research and development of new cancer therapies, provide a single location for coordinated comprehensive cancer care – prevention, diagnosis, treatment and research - and provide local access to high-technology medicine, such as USA’s PET/CT scanner and linear accelerators. The Institute will also pursue designation as a National Cancer Institute cancer center.

The USA Cancer Research Institute is being funded through tobacco settlement funds, federal appropriations, competitive contracts and grants, state economic development funds, private donations, and the USA Foundation.

Economists estimate that the Institute has the potential to create 700 jobs for citizens of all educational levels and have an economic impact of $1 billion in the first decade. The Institute will stimulate the growth of a strong regional economy built on biomedicine and biotechnology.

Some 6,000 people on the upper Gulf Coast die of cancer each year. The annual cancer death rate is more than 30 percent higher than the national average. Mobile County loses 1,200 people a year to cancer, while Baldwin County loses approximately 400. More than 50 percent of cancer patients do not respond to conventional treatment methods and require new drugs and therapies such as those developed at academic cancer research institutes. Currently, 2.5 million people in the area do not have access to an academic cancer institute.

USA plans to locate the Cancer Research Institute on the USA Knollwood Hospital campus. The Institute involves the entire USA Health System, working closely with local hospitals and physicians as well.

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