Dr. Oberley-Deegan receives Maurer Award

by Tom O'Connor, UNMC public relations | May 03, 2017

Image with caption: From left, Harold M. Maurer, M.D., Beverly Maurer, Rebecca Oberley-Deegan, Ph.D., and Dave Crouse, Ph.D., board president of the Nebraska Coalition for Lifesaving Cures

From left, Harold M. Maurer, M.D., Beverly Maurer, Rebecca Oberley-Deegan, Ph.D., and Dave Crouse, Ph.D., board president of the Nebraska Coalition for Lifesaving Cures

Rebecca Oberley-Deegan, Ph.D., assistant professor, biochemistry and molecular biology, received the Harold M. Maurer, M.D. & Beverly Maurer Scientific Achievement Award at the 15th Annual Tribute Spring Luncheon sponsored by the Nebraska Coalition for Lifesaving Cures (NCLC).

Previous honorees

  • 2016 - Jim and Diny Landen
  • 2015 - Wally and Barbara Weitz
  • 2014 - Harold M. Maurer, M.D., and Beverly Maurer
  • 2013 - John and Lynne Boyer
  • 2012 - Fred and Eve Simon
  • 2011 - Linda and Charles Wilson, M.D., and Walter and Suzanne Scott
  • 2010 - Michael Yanney and Gail Walling Yanney, M.D.
  • 2009 - Dorothy and Stanley Truhlsen, M.D.
  • 2008 - Richard Holland
  • 2007 - James Armitage, M.D.
  • 2006 - Harold and Marian Andersen
  • 2005 - Rik Bonness and Shannon Bonness, M.D.
  • 2004 - Michael Sorrell, M.D.
  • 2003 - Charles Durham

Dr. Oberley-Deegan, who joined the UNMC faculty in 2014, was recognized for her research aimed at finding ways to protect normal tissues in the body from radiation damage when treating prostate cancer or cancer of the anus.

Some of the side effects of radiation include skin irritation, immune deprivation, susceptibility to infection, weight loss due to nausea, and damage to organs.

"As more people are surviving cancer therapy, the quality of life for these cancer survivors is often reduced due to radiation damage of normal tissues," she said. "Currently, there is nothing given to patients while undergoing radiation therapy to protect normal tissues. We are trying to address this problem with our research."

picture disc.
Howard Gendelman, M.D., and Mary Ann "Andy" Holland
Dr. Oberley-Deegan's research group is focused on trying to inhibit radiation-induced free radicals, which are linked to tumor survival and metastasis. They are trying to determine the mechanisms by which antioxidants can protect normal tissues from radiation, while simultaneously making the tumor vulnerable to radiation damage. They hope to launch a clinical trial soon to test their research findings.

Dr. Oberley-Deegan earned her undergraduate degree from Grinnell College and her doctorate degree from the University of Iowa. She did her postdoctoral training at National Jewish Hospital in Denver. In 2016, Dr. Oberley-Deegan received a New Investigator Award from UNMC.

Each year at the Tribute Spring Luncheon, the NCLC honors individuals from Nebraska who have made a difference in the world through their passionate support of medical research.

This year, the coalition recognized Mary Ann "Andy" Holland, a longtime research supporter, with its Lifesaver Award.

In 2007, Holland became a research advocate when NCLC was formed by her father, the late Richard Holland. Many of the NCLC members came from the Nebraskans for Research (NFR) advocacy group that was initially formed when UNMC was being attacked in 1999 for its Parkinson's disease research using human fetal cells.

Holland called the combination of NCLC and NFR "the perfect marriage between brains and money."

Nearly 200 people attended the April 24 awards luncheon held at Happy Hollow Club.

Justin Mott
May 03, 2017 at 4:17 PM

Excellent, well-deserved!

May 03, 2017 at 9:26 AM

"The perfect marriage of brains and money"..... are those really the most important things to the people in your group? As a cancer survivor and the wife of a researcher, I'd say integrity and funding research that doesn't intentionally kill humans as a means to progress are more important qualities.... I just wish this article and award weren't written as if every Nebraskan or UNMC supporter honors research done with or by scientists who use fetal stem cells.

May 03, 2017 at 7:24 AM

Dear Becky: CongratulationSSSSSSSSSS!