Research News

IU Simon Cancer Center Update - May

Mary A. Maxwell, Development Director, IU Simon Cancer Center
(Wednesday, May 30, 2012)
Indianapolis, Indiana Researchers are making discoveries every day at the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer Research Laboratories at Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center. Meet Lida Mina, M.D., an award-winning doctor specializing in breast cancer prevention and studying genetic and environmental factors.

The nightlife in Lebanon is pretty spectacular, according to Lida Mina, who lived in her homeland until finishing medical school and an internship in 2004. “It’s 24/7, just like New York City. People like to party all the time.”

Culture shock greeted Lida and her husband Hicham El Masry when they arrived in Indianapolis for advanced training in oncology and cardiology respectively. They were unprepared to find such a quiet town. To them, it was particularly amusing to see people standing in lines waiting so patiently. “You would never see that in Lebanon.” Two children later, they love the family-oriented feel of their new home. “What used to be boring is now very nice.” Indianapolis is a perfect place for them to raise their children, Aya, 4, and Jenna, who was just born on May 7. (In Arabic, their names translate to “poem verse” and “paradise.”)

Although Indianapolis initially seemed too sedate, Lida was immediately drawn to the vibrancy of the breast cancer program during her residency at Indiana University. She wanted to be part of the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer research team, where she knew she could create change. “I knocked on George Sledge’s door and asked if he could help me start my research career. He said, ‘Of course, if you’re really interested.’ It started raining research.” Lida was honored with the Shirley J. Wyss Fellowship prior to joining the faculty and working side-by side with Dr. Anna Maria Storniolo in the breast cancer high-risk clinic. There she is acutely aware of how breast cancer affects the whole family. She provides care for breast cancer patients and also assesses risk with the sisters and daughters of patients. Her research focus is breast cancer prevention as well as the study of factors mediating breast cancer including genetic and environmental causes.

Research Update
Lida has designed a clinical trial that may have a prevention benefit for overweight and obese women at high risk for breast cancer. She is studying a type II diabetes drug – Metformin – to determine if it can inhibit the development of the disease. Meformin is believed to impact the signaling pathways that fuel tumor cell proliferation and growth. This study explores the effect of Metformin on breast tissue density, signal profile pathways and the insulin axis. Vera Bradley Laboratory analysis will identify molecular changes in breast tissue, clues that may lead to better preventive strategies.

We Thank You!
Scientists: Drs. Badve, Bowling, Clare, Clemmer, Firulli, Flockhart, Gilley, Grimes, Han, Hattab, He, Herbert, Hutchins, Ivan, Johnson, Konger, Li, Meroueh, Miller, Mina, Nakshatri, Nephew, Novotny, Radovich, Saykin, Schneider, Skaar, Sledge, Slee, Stantz, Storniolo, Vargo-Gogola, Walczak, Wells, Zhang, Zheng