“It’s your Cancer Center, we work for you.”
That was the message Jan Kitajewski, PhD, associate director of Basic Science at the UI Cancer Center, Sweeney Professor of Basic Science and head of the department of physiology and biophysics, shared with the Patient Brigade at its first quarterly meeting of 2019. Kitajewski presented the group with highlights of his innovative breast cancer research. One of the main areas of his studies focuses on finding treatments that block cancer cell growth by impeding the blood vessels that feed cancer cells.
Kitajewski’s latest research is called “The Duffy Project”, which utilizes the Duffy protein that is located on red blood cells. Changes or mutations of the Duffy gene is found in two-thirds of African Americans. Kitajewski’s laboratory is examining whether a Duffy mutation is harmful or protective to cancer cells, which could help in the discovery of a different cancer treatment. Kitajewski also shared stories of the influential women in his life who motivates his dedication to cancer research.
The Patient Brigade was the inspiration of Patient Advocate Stephanie Carter-Logan, a three-time cancer survivor who received her care at the UI Cancer Center. The group is comprised of about a dozen cancer survivors, family of, or supporters of survivors and it reflects the diverse ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic groups in the Chicago area.