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The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions is now the leading center in the world for the treatment and study of pancreatic cancer. More than 15 faculty at Johns Hopkins have dedicated their careers to the war on pancreatic cancer. These faculty members include basic science researchers, researchers focused on translating basic science discoveries to patient care, and clinicians (surgeons, oncologists, pathologists, gastroenterologists and radiation oncologists).

They are making strides to advance the understanding of pancreatic cancer and to develop new techniques to diagnose and treat this dreaded disease. But there are more leads than there are resources to pursue them. All proceeds from the Run for George will be used for Pancreatic Cancer Research at Johns Hopkins. Each year the Rubis family chooses to designate approximately half of the donations raised by Run for George to The George Rubis Endowment for Pancreatic Cancer Research (for long-term support), and the other half to immediate research use by Dr. Christine Iacobuzio-Donahue.

Christine Iacobuzio-Donahue was born and raised in Bayshore, Long Island, NY. She earned a BS in Biology from Adelphi University, followed by an MD and PhD degree from Boston University . While in Boston, she spent three years investigating how colorectal cancers develop the ability to invade through the colon and metastasize. Upon graduating, she moved to Baltimore, MD where she completed a residency in Anatomic Pathology at Johns Hopkins. While in residency, she spent one additional year of research training with two leading researchers in pancreas cancer, Dr. Scott Kern and Dr. Ralph Hruban, studying the fundamental changes in the genes of pancreatic cancer cells compared to the normal pancreas.

In 2003, Dr. Iacobuzio joined the Pathology faculty in the Division of Gastrointestinal/Liver Pathology at Johns Hopkins where she started a research lab dedicated to the study of pancreatic cancer. The broad goal of her research focuses on understanding why and how pancreatic cancers develop and spread to other organs as a basis for the development of better treatments. To support her research, she instituted the Johns Hopkins Gastrointestinal Cancer Rapid Medical Donation Program (GICRMDP) in 2003. This unique program allows patients with terminal, metastatic pancreatic cancer to agree to undergo a rapid autopsy for research purposes. The tissues are then analyzed by her laboratory using cutting-edge methods.

With the support of donations from Run for George, Dr. Iacobuzio has used a method called "gene expression profiling" to study advanced pancreas cancers. To date, she has identified several genes that are specifically "turned on" in pancreas cancers that may help the cancer spread to other organs. While this is a significant advance in pancreatic cancer research, each one of these genes needs to go through a validation process to prove that these genes play a role in pancreatic cancer. Those genes that are validated as specifically turned on in pancreas cancers are the most promising for the development of vaccines and drugs that will eventually move into clinical trials for patients.

For more information about pancreatic cancer and the research performed at Johns Hopkins, please click on the link below: