Public Release: 

Fox Chase Cancer Center molecular biologist named V Foundation Scholar

Fox Chase Cancer Center

PHILADELPHIA (April 18, 2000)-- Dr. Dominique "Kiki" Broccoli of Cinnaminson, NJ, a molecular biologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center, was named a V Foundation Scholar in a special ceremony on Tuesday, April 18 at the Center. Nick Valvano, CEO of The V Foundation for Cancer Research (Cary, N.C.), awarded Broccoli a $100,000 check representing a two-year grant to pursue her research on cellular aging.

Named for North Carolina State University basketball coach James T. Valvano, who died of cancer in 1993, The V Foundation funds young investigators doing cutting-edge research. The V Foundation recently teamed with Papa John's International to raise funds and awareness for cancer research. From March 13th through the 26th, Papa John's restaurants donated $1 for every "Works" pizza sold in participating restaurants in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. The donations contributed to Dominique Broccoli's V Foundation award.

Broccoli's research focuses on telomeres which are associated with cellular aging. Telomeres are specialized structures at the ends of chromosomes. In human cells, telomeric DNA is lost each time the cell divides due to the repression of a specialized enzyme, telomerase, which is responsible for the replication of telomeric DNA. Thus, telomeres become shorter as we age.

In most tumor cells, telomerase is active and telomere length is stabilized. The current hypothesis is that telomere length acts as a clock to limit the total number of divisions any cell is capable of achieving. This limitation on cell growth and renewal is believed to contribute to human aging.

Activation of telomerase and stabilization of telomeric DNA circumvents this restraint on cell growth and permits unlimited numbers of cell division, a process required for tumor formation. Thus, telomeres are critically important in both aging and the growth of tumors in humans. Although it is now clear that telomere length is a critical feature determining the number of divisions cells may attain, relatively little is known about how this process is regulated. The work funded by The V Foundation is focused on determining how telomeres limit cellular replication which may contribute to the development of new approaches to limit tumor growth.

Broccoli joined the medical science division of Fox Chase Cancer Center in June 1998. Previously she held a postdoctoral fellowship at Rockefeller University in New York City.

Broccoli received her bachelor's and master's degrees in biology from the University of Nevada-Reno and earned her Ph.D. in molecular biology and genetics in 1991 at Wayne State University in Detroit. Before beginning her fellowship in Rockefeller University's laboratory for cell biology and genetics, she completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in human genetics at Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1994.

Three other Fox Chase researchers, Dr. Hong Yan of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., Dr. Thomas R. Coleman of Jenkintown, Pa., and Dr. Peter D. Adams of Philadelphia, Pa., became V Foundation Scholars in 1997, 1998 and 1999 respectively.

Jim Valvano, the legendary head coach that led North Carolina State University to the 1983 NCAA basketball title, inspired millions with his valiant ten-month battle against a virulent form of bone cancer that finally claimed his life. The V Foundation was founded by Valvano just prior to his death in 1993. Jimmy V made headlines before he passed away when he proclaimed war against cancer with his famous statement, "DON'T GIVE UP...DON'T EVER GIVE UP!" Since its inception, The V Foundation has awarded 62 research and awareness grants and has raised more than $12 million. For more information about The V Foundation, please call 1-800-4-JIMMY V or visit www.jimmyv.org.

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Fox Chase Cancer Center, one of the nation's first comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute in 1974, conducts basic and clinical research; programs of prevention, detection and treatment of cancer; and community outreach. For more information about Fox Chase activities, visit the Center's web site at: www.fccc.edu.

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