Annual Cancer Research Symposium

The Annual Cancer Research Symposium is a long-standing event that brings together the many talents and passions of investigators devoted to solving the problem of cancer across the entire spectrum from prevention to survivorship. This event introduces new faculty, features research by students, and promotes programmatic and multidisciplinary interactions.

Each year, the focused sessions examine Population Sciences and Health Disparities; Basic and Translational Science; Clinical Research; and Cancer Career Development and Training. In addition to the focused sessions, the symposium highlights groundbreaking cancer research from within UC Davis. The event also includes poster sessions with prizes enabling junior and senior scientists to highlight their research while rewarding innovative science.

Save the date: 28th Annual Cancer Research Symposium, October 6 & 7, 2022

27th Annual Cancer Research Symposium

September 30 & October 1, 2021

Download the program for the 27th Annual Cancer Research Symposium (PDF)

Thursday, September 30, 2021


All sessions presented on Zoom. (Not all presentations were recorded.)
SESSION I: Population Sciences and Health Disparities
Chair: Shehnaz Hussain, PhD, ScM
Time Title Presenter
8:30 – 8:40 am Introduction and Welcome Primo Lara, MD
Director, UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center
8:40 – 9:10 am

Keynote Presentation: "Improving Effectiveness of Lifestyle Interventions"

Recording available here.

Sarah-Jeanne Salvy, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, SOCCI Cancer Research Center for Health Equity,
Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Cedar-Sinai Medical Center
9:10 – 9:25 am Q&A  
9:25 – 9:40 am "Significance of the Gut-Liver Axis for Progression Along the Disease Continuum from NAFLD to HCC" Shehnaz Hussain, PhD
Professor, Department of Public Health Sciences,
Associate Director for Population Sciences, UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center
9:40 – 9:45 am Q&A  
9:45 – 10:00 am "Comparative Metabolomics of Hispanic and Caucasian Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A Pilot Study" John Newman, PhD
Research Chemist, USDA ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center,
Associate Adjunct Professor, Department of Nutrition, UC Davis
10:00 – 10:05 am Q&A  
10:05 – 10:15 am Break  
10:15 – 10:30 am

"Genetic Diversity, Diet and Susceptibility to Hepatic Steatosis in Mice"

Recording available here.

Brian Bennett, PhD
Research Leader, USDA ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center,
Associate Adjunct Professor, Department of Nutrition, UC Davis
10:30 – 10:35 am Q&A  
10:35 – 10:50 am

"Bile Acid Dysregulation and Cancer Risk"

Recording available here.

Yu-Jui "Yvonne" Wan, PhD
Professor and Vice Chair of Research, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, UC Davis
10:50 – 10:55 am Q&A  
10:55 – 11:10 am

"Hepatocyte p53 Ablation Induces Metabolic Dysregulation that is Corrected by Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy in Mice"

Recording available here.

Bethany Cummings, DVM, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Surgery, UC Davis
11:10 – 11:15 am Q&A  
SESSION II: Career Development and Education
Chair: Frederick Meyers, MD, MACP
Time Title Presenter
11:15 – 12:00 pm Panel: "Diverse Scholars Finding Success at UCDCCC" Erin Doherty, BS
PhD Candidate, Department of Chemistry, UC Davis

Luke A. Wittenburg DVM, PhD, DACVCP
Associate Professor, Developmental Cancer Therapeutics, Department of Surgical and Radiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, UC Davis

Alan Lombard, PhD
Assistant Professional Researcher, Department of Urologic Surgery, UC Davis

Diedre Reitz, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, UC Davis

Nicole Coggins, PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar, Genome Center and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, UC Davis
12:00 – 1:30 pm Poster Session  
SESSION III: Basic/Translational Science
Chair: Luis Carvajal-Carmona, PhD
Time Title Presenter
1:30 – 2:00 pm

Keynote Presentation: "The Repertoire of Mutational Signature in Human Cancer"

Recording available here.

Ludmil B. Alexandrov, PhD
Assistant Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and Bioengineering, UC San Diego
2:00 – 2:15 pm Q&A  
2:15 – 2:30 pm "Therapeutic Targeting of Tumor Lineage Plasticity in Therapy-Resistant Prostate Cancer" Hongwu Chen, PhD
Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, UC Davis
2:30 – 2:35 pm Q&A  
2:35 – 2:50 pm "Spatial RNA Profiling Reveals Cell Type-Specific Biomarker Expression During Melanoma Development" Maija Kiuru, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Clinical Dermatology and Pathology, Department of Dermatology, UC Davis
2:50 – 2:55 pm Q&A  
2:55 – 3:05 pm Break  
3:05 – 3:20 pm "Targeting Epigenetic Vulnerabilities in Breast Cancer" Sanchita Bhatnagar, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, UC Davis
3:20 – 3:25 pm Q&A  
3:25 – 3:40 pm

"Disrupting the Rbm38-eIF4E Complex to Increase p53 Expression as a Potential Cancer Therapeutic Strategy"

Recording available here.

Christopher Lucchesi, PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar, Department of Surgical & Radiological Sciences, UC Davis
3:40 – 3:45 pm Q&A  

End of Day 1


Friday, October 1, 2021


All sessions presented on Zoom
Time Title Presenter
8:00 – 9:30 am Poster Session  
SESSION IV: Clinical Research
Chair: Karen Kelly, MD
9:30 – 10:00 am

David R. Gandara Lectureship on Developmental Therapeutics: "Cancer Therapy Resistance: Mechanisms, Challenges and Opportunities"

Recording available here.

Peter Nelson, MD
Member, Divisions of Human Biology and Clinical Research, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Professor, Division of Medical Oncology, University of Washington,
Head, Program in Prostate Cancer Research PI, Pacific Northwest Prostate Cancer SPORE
10:00 – 10:15 am Q&A  
10:15 – 10:30 am

"Translation of Bladder Cancer Therapeutics"

Maria Mudryj, PhD
Professor and Vice Chair of Education and Outreach, Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, UC Davis

Mamta Parikh, MD, MS
Assistant Professor, Division of Hematology and Oncology, UC Davis
10:30 – 10:35 am Q&A  
10:35 – 10:50 am "Targeting the DNA-Binding Domain of the Androgen Receptor in Castration Resistant Prostate Cancer" Paramita Ghosh, PhD
Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, Department of Urologic Surgery, UC Davis

Ruiwu Liu, PhD
Research Scientist, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, UC Davis
10:50 – 10:55 am Q&A  
10:55 – 11:05 am Break  
11:05 – 11:20 am "Characterization and Novel Targeting of the AKR1C3/AR/AR-V7 Axis for the Treatment of Lethal Prostate Cancer" Chengfei Liu, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Urologic Surgery, UC Davis
11:20 – 11:25 am Q&A  
11:25 – 11:40 am "A Phase 2 Neo-adjuvant Biomarker Driven Clinical Trial for High-Risk Prostrate Cancer" Marc Dall'Era, MD
Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Urologic Surgery, UC Davis
11:40 – 11:45 am Q&A  
11:45 – 11:55 am Closing Remarks and Poster Awards Announcement Primo Lara, MD
Director, UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

Symposium Close

Annual Spotlight on Early Career Investigators

The Spotlight on Early Career Investigators is an annual symposium highlighting the work students, postdocs, research staff residents, and fellows in cancer research. Through this event, early stage investigators meet experienced investigators, learn about potential research opportunities early in their career, and gain valuable career insights through presentations and networking.

Each year, eight early stage investigators are selected as symposium presenters with others offering poster presentations. Criteria used to judge the applications include scientific innovation, significance, and ultimate potential for clinical impact.

Save the date for the 16th Spotlight on Early Career Investigators – April 28, 2022