Stephenson Cancer Center Researcher Honored with National Award

A researcher at the Stephenson Cancer Center at the University of Oklahoma has been recognized nationally for his work in the field of pancreatic cancer treatment and prevention.

Dr. Altaf Mohammed of Stephenson Cancer Center has been named the Bristol-Myers Squib Oncology Scholar-in-Training Award recipient for 2013 by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

The award, given to fewer than 10 percent of applicants, recognizes Dr. Mohammed's research into the effects of a diabetes drug on the progression of pancreatic cancer.

“This is a tremendous tribute to Dr. Mohammed’s research. Like so many of our researchers, he is passionate about advancing cancer research as we work toward improved treatments, prevention and ultimately a cure,” said Robert Mannel, MD, director of the Stephenson Cancer Center.

Mohammed’s research focuses on metformin, a medication regularly prescribed for patients with diabetes.

"More than 80% of pancreatic cancer patients end up with diabetes. So the use of this drug is justified," said Mohammed. He added that several studies have already shown that patients who use metformin have a reduced risk for cancer.

Mohammed utilized a model for the development of human pancreatic cancer to test use of the drug. The goal was to see if metformin can prevent progression of pancreatic cancer. Study results revealed that metformin significantly reduced the weight of pancreatic cancer tumors and inhibited spread of the cancer by more than 95 percent in laboratory models.

“The results suggest metformin has significant potential for human chemoprevention trials in individuals at high-risk for pancreatic cancer,” Mohammed said.

The Oncology Scholar-in-Training Award was presented at the annual AACR meeting in Washington D.C. this month.

In addition to earning the award, Mohammed was selected to share his work in an oral presentation with fellow researchers from throughout the world at the AACR meeting.

Other Stephenson Cancer Center researchers selected to make poster presentations at the same meeting were:

Naushad Ali, PhD

Natarajan Aravindan, PhD

Ji Hee Ha, PhD

Robert Hurst, PhD

Naveena B. Janakiram, PhD

Anupama Munshi, PhD

Jagan R. Patolla, PhD

Lurdes Queimado, MD, PhD

Ilangovan Ramachandran, PhD

Sukyung Woo, PhD

Hiroshi Yamada, PhD


Several others from the OU Health Science Center also made poster presentations. They are:

Vengatesh Ganapathy, PhD

Stan Lightfoot, MD

Venkateshwar Madka, PhD

Janani Panneerselvam, PhD

Durgadevi Ravillah, MS, (PhD graduate student)