U-M and MedImmune join forces to accelerate search for new therapies

Leaders from the University of Michigan Medical School and MedImmune, the global biologics arm of AstraZeneca, have signed a new agreement to work together on a broad range of projects.

Max Wicha, M.D.

Max Wicha, M.D.

The three-year strategic collaboration will bring scientists from one of the nation’s top medical research institutions together with scientists from one of the world’s leading developers of biologic therapies.

“We are thrilled to partner with MedImmune in a collaborative and creative way to bring new innovations to market,” says Steven Kunkel, Ph.D., senior associate dean for research at the U-M Medical School and Endowed Professor of Pathology Research. “This strategic partnership, one of the first of its kind for our institution, speaks to our desire to collaborate with industry to accelerate translation of U-M’s cutting-edge research to impact patients.”

The partnership will initially focus on oncology,  leveraging the strength of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center. U-M cancer scientists, led by center director Max Wicha, M.D., have won more research grant dollars from the National Cancer Institute than researchers at any other academic medical center.

“Working with MedImmune to explore new ways to target treatments is a natural progression of the basic scientific discoveries that our teams have made in the last decade,” says Wicha, who is also the Distinguished Professor of Oncology in the Department of Internal Medicine at the U-M Medical School.

UMMS and MedImmune scientists will cooperate on studies that aim to translate scientific discoveries from the laboratory into new candidates for treating cancer as well as heart disease, digestive disease, lung disease and diseases caused by inflammation. Continue reading

A helping hand: Taking control of eating with tube-feeding

By Nancy Burke, R.D., Joan Daniels, R.D., and Danielle Karsies, R.D., M.S.
University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center Dietitians

Illustration shows placement of feeding tubesThink of any celebration, and the first thing that probably comes to mind is food. The aroma, taste and texture of food give us pleasure and satisfaction — but cancer and its treatment can temporarily interfere with our ability to enjoy it.

Some people with cancer may experience loss of appetite or taste. Others may not be able to eat because of a blockage or pain when swallowing. No one wants to give up eating, but when it becomes more of a hindrance or a burden, a feeding tube may offer relief. In fact, we’ve found that many people who opt for tube-feeding say that they wished they had done so sooner, as they feel better overall, more energetic and less burdened by not having to force themselves to eat.

Read the rest of this story in the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s patient publication, Thrive.

U-M Experts Featured On PBS

Guest blogger Betsy de Parry posts today about how she came to produce a weekly PBS television segment that regularly features experts from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. Watch the show, A Wider World, tonight at 5:30 p.m., on WTVS in Detroit.

Guest blogger Betsy de Parry

Guest blogger Betsy de Parry

By Betsy de Parry


When I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma nearly 10 years ago and successfully treated at University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center,  I could never have dreamed that I would have the chance to produce reports about cancer for a PBS show.

The opportunity came as a complete surprise early this year when Peggy Shriver, executive director of the Michigan Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, introduced me to Elizabeth Kelly, executive producer of the half-hour weekly PBS show A Wider World. On the air since 2000, A Wider World has been the only regularly scheduled TV show about disabilities, but its focus is on abilities. Each week, the show introduces viewers to others who have overcome obstacles and misconceptions and delivers information designed to improve the lives of those who face challenges.

Elizabeth wanted to devote a part of each show to those facing cancer. Would I be willing, she asked, to produce them?  I was not only willing, but eager!

To determine what people most wanted to know, I created a survey with two dozen potential topics and asked people in a couple of online support groups to answer. The response was overwhelming.  Respondents wanted to learn more about everything from survivorship to pathology, medical imaging to pain management, clinical trials to parenting and children’s issues.

There was no question about whom I would ask to address the topics: experts at my “cancer alma mater.” I wanted to give viewers a glimpse of what I know so well: that U- M is truly extraordinary, made so by dedicated, remarkable people. Continue reading

On Your Own: Facing the challenges of cancer while living alone

Cancer can turn any household upsidedown, but facing cancer while living alone can add to the challenges of coping. Who will help pay the bills if you can’t work? How do you get to the clinic for treatment if the medicine makes you too sick to drive? Who will help you take your pills on that day when the kitchen is just too far to walk?

Learn more about social networking tools that can help you reach out to friends and long-distance family.

Learn more about social networking tools at that can help you reach out to friends and long-distance family.

Aryana Robbins, a social worker at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, said people with cancer who live alone face a lot of unique challenges.

“We help a lot of patients who live alone with the practical aspects of their care,” she said, “but we also try to encourage them to seek out emotional support as well. It’s difficult to be the patient, the caregiver and the advocate at one time.”

Asking for help is the key for people who live alone. Connecting to people and services in your community helps to alleviate a sense of isolation that is common among people with cancer who live in a household of one. Continue reading