Nebraska Prostate Cancer Research Program (NPCRP)

Overview of NPCRP 

Nearly 200,000 men in the U.S. will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and over 30,000 will die of this disease annually.  While surgery and chemotherapy can cure the disease, in many cases it will spread and kill the patient.  Better basic scientific understanding of this disease is needed to enable the development of more effective preventive and therapeutic treatments toward this cancer.

The development of better prostate cancer treatments depends on the training of prostate cancer researchers.  This program is to train undergraduate science majors in prostate cancer research.  It is a collaborative effort between the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), Omaha, Nebraska, and Clark Atlanta University (CAU), Atlanta, Georgia.  Dr. Ming-Fong Lin of UNMC and Dr. Shafiq Khan of CAU have ongoing research collaborations.  They will identify interested undergraduates at CAU for summer research at UNMC where the students will do basic science or translational research in a laboratory.  Students will spend the great majority of their time working at the bench on a research project.  They will also participate in a seminar series that will introduce them to different areas of scientific investigation and advanced technological tools used in scientific discovery.

After the summer, the students will continue research in a prostate cancer lab at CAU.  They will thus continue their scientific development throughout the academic year in preparation for a graduate career in the biomedical sciences or for medical school.

Mission Statement of NPCRP

This program will train undergraduate students to perform prostate cancer research in a research-intensive environment.  They will continue to perform research during their undergraduate academic career.  After graduation, the student participants will be prepared to enter graduate school or medical school with training in, and understanding of, prostate cancer research.  This will increase the number of prostate cancer researchers in both the basic and the clinical sciences.

Focus Areas of Research in NPCRP

Since our faculty members are engaged in a variety of research projects, students will have the opportunity to be trained in different areas of prostate cancer research.  

NPCRP: Program Director, Staff Members and Mentors

Dr. Ming-Fong Lin, PD/PI of NPCRP, has served as the Coordinator/Leader of the UNMC Eppley Cancer Center Prostate Cancer Research Focus Group since 1997.  Dr. Lin is a veteran in prostate cancer research for over twenty years.  He was initially involved in the early investigation on the potential of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) as a surrogate marker for prostate cancer, comparing with the classical marker, circulating prostate acid phosphatase (PAcP).  For investigating the molecular mechanism of hormone-refractory prostate cancer progression, Dr. Lin has established clinic-relevant, U.S. patent-awarded prostate cancer cell lines, which are well accepted by scientists in the field.  Dr. Lin has also made the seminal discovery on the novel role of cellar PAcP in prostate cancer progression, corroborating clinic phenomena.  Since 1995, he has served in various study sections for the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Prostate Cancer Research Program, the American Cancer Society, and others.

The conception of training of undergraduate HBCU students from CAU is based on long-term interactions between Dr. Lin and Dr. Shafiq Khan, the faculty member at CAU.  Dr. Lin has been a member of the Executive Advisory Committee for the NIH Research Center in Minority Institute (RCMI) at CAU, and Dr. Khan has been the Director of the Center since March 2004.  Recently, Dr. Khan's Center, with Dr. Lin's input, was awarded a grant from the NIH National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD) for establishing a Center of Excellence for Prostate Cancer Research, Education and Community Services at CAU.  To strengthen the research efforts in prostate cancer at CAU, Dr. Lin has provided necessary expertise and reagents to Dr. Khan and his faculty members.  Dr. Lin and Dr. Khan have research collaborations as well; Dr. Lin is a consultant in Dr. Khan's DOD PCa Idea Award which has resulted in a co-authored publication in 2008 and additional collaborative articles are under construction or pending review.

Dr. William Chaney serves as the Program Coordinator for organizing orientation sessions and a summer seminar series for the students.  He has over fifteen years of experience with undergraduate summer programs, having organized the first one provided by the College of Medicine at UNMC.  He currently is the Program Coordinator of the NIH-supported Nebraska Center for Functional Genomics INBRE grant (The P.I. of the grant is Dr. James Turpen of UNMC).  In this role, he organizes summer orientation and seminar presentations for undergraduate students.  The concept is supported by Dr. Turpen, and the CAU students will also attend the INBRE activity during their summer research at UNMC.  Thus, Dr. Chaney brings a tremendous amount of experience and activities to CAU students in the NPCRP.

In the NPCRP, fourteen faculty members from Creighton University (CU) in Omaha, the University of Nebraska - Lincoln (UNL), and the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) have agreed to serve as potential research mentors for this proposal.  Their research areas cover a wide range of expertise and interest in cancer research, including prostate cancer.  Thus, a student entering this program can find a research mentor who is working in an area of interest to that student.

Faculty Advisors at CAU

Dr. Shafiq Khan, Professor of Biological Sciences at CAU, will serve as the faculty advisor for the undergraduate students participating in this program.  He currently coordinates undergraduate research efforts at CAU and is extensively involved in their research experiences.  Dr. Khan is the Director of the Research Center in Minority Institute (RCMI) program, and is also the PI of the Prostate Cancer Research Center at CAU supported by NCMHD, NIH.  Dr. Khan has an active research lab and is funded externally, including by the DOD Prostate Cancer Research Program Idea award.  To strengthen the effort of this training program, upon discussion with Dr. Lin, Dr. Khan recruited Dr. Valerie Odero-Marah, Assistant Professor of Biology at CAU, who is also funded by the DOD Prostate Cancer Research Program to serve as the Program Coordinator supporting Dr. Khan in student recruitment and mentoring at CAU.