Crowded Dr. Gary Kruh Cancer Research Symposium

The 2024 Dr. Gary Kruh Cancer Research Symposium and Student Poster Competition drew 183 attendees and 54 student posters for the University of Illinois Cancer Center’s annual celebration of scientific inquiry and innovation in cancer research.The event, held in honor of late Cancer Center Director Gary Kruh, MD, PhD, featured presentations by nationally renowned cancer researchers and a high-profile patient advocate before wrapping up with a busy student poster competition.


Speakers Peter Sorger, PhD, of Harvard Medical School; Victoria Seewaldt, MD, PhD, of City of Hope; John Blenis, PhD, of Weill Cornell Medicine; and patient advocate Wenora Johnson, a three-time cancer survivor, engaged with the audience and were peppered with questions after their respective talks. Blenis started the day with his talk, “Dietary, Metabolic and Aging-Linked Contributions to Cancer Progression,” followed by Seewaldt who discussed “Insulin-Resistance, Inflammation and Breast Cancer Risk – From the Community to the Lab and Back,’ and then Johnson who told attendees about “The Importance of Patient Advocacy in Research and How Patient Advocates Can Offer Guidance in Reviewing Scientific Grant Applications.” Sorger took the stage after lunch to discuss “Highly Multiplexed Profiling of the Tumor Microenvironment for Discovery and Diagnosis” before winners were announced in the crowded student poster competition that closed out the April 19 event.

Student Poster Winners

The prize for each winning poster is $500. You can view all poster abstracts here.

Cancer Biology

Soeun Kang receiving her award

Soeun Kang: Hexokinase 2 regulates anti-tumor functions of CD8+ T cell via reprogramming glucose

Purab Pal receiving his award

Purab Pal: Ceramides induce a lethal level of endoplasmic reticulum stress to preferentially kill endocrine
therapy-resistant breast cancer cells.

Cancer Prevention and Control

Madeleine Fin receiving her award

Madeleine W Fine: First Steps to miRNA-Based Oral Tumor Classifier Validation

Nyahne Bergeron receiving her award

Nyahne Bergeron: Leveraging African American Women as Change Agents to Reduce Obesity-Related Breast Cancer Risk: An Evaluation of a Network-Based Pilot Intervention Promoting the Mediterranean Diet

Translational Oncology

Dahee Jung receiving her award

Dahee Jung: Engineered anti-CD40 agonist antibody as a novel cancer neoantigen vaccine delivery system

Courtney Ketchum: Extraneural Metastasis of Glioblastoma: A Review of Literature   


Adriana Duraki receiving her award

Adriana Duraki: Vitamin D deficiency leads to a proinflammatory microenvironment in the prostate that supports carcinogenesis

About Gary Kruh, MD, PhD

Kruh was appointed as director of the Cancer Center in 2007 and remained in the position until his death in January 2011. During his tenure as Cancer Center Director, Kruh made great strides in creating a strong Cancer Center identity and unifying a diverse group of laboratory, clinical and population science researchers to work together toward a common goal. He reconfigured the Cancer Center’s research programs to focus on cancer control and population science, carcinogenesis and chemoprevention, experimental therapeutics and imaging, and tumor cell biology. He was instrumental in the development of a partnership between the American Cancer Society and UIC clinical oncology programs, which led to the opening of the first Comprehensive Patient Navigation Center at UIC. His ability to bring disparate groups together and inspire them toward a common goal was truly a gift and he will always be remembered for his leadership, vision, energy, sense of humor and integrity.

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