Vital Signs

The Solemn Promise

As a medical resident in his native India, Hamid Band, M.D., Ph.D., felt powerless against major illnesses that took his patient's lives or left them with lifelong challenges.

"The lack of knowledge of complex diseases prevented me from being an effective physician," said the renowned breast cancer researcher.

So, at age 26, Dr. Band pursued laboratory research with an oath to return to the clinic if, by age 40, he was not making a contribution to biomedical research.

He has never returned to the clinic.

Today, the associate director of translational research at the UNMC Eppley Cancer Center and professor in the Eppley Institute studies how our body's "cellular brakes" which allow precisely controlled cellular multiplication, migration and activity -- control our "cellular accelerators or gas pedals." The knowledge will help devise and improve targeted therapies for such diseases as cancer and autoimmunity.

Dr. Band's studies are focused on breast and certain types of lung cancer, but have general relevance to all cancers. His goal is to identify newer targets for development of cancer drugs and to develop strategies to enhance the effectiveness of existing treatments while reducing side effects of treatment.

"Each day, my colleagues and I contribute a piece to solving this puzzle called "cancer," " he said.

It's a puzzle the immunologist works on with an interdisciplinary group that includes his wife: renowned breast cancer researcher Vimla Band, Ph.D. The couple joined UNMC in 2007 to develop a collaborative program in breast and other cancers.

"We"re in an exciting new dawn in biomedical science where we will see many cures previously deemed impossible," he said.

And, when that happens, cancer will be left powerless.