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Release: May 28, 1999

UI researcher receives $1.3 million National Cancer Institute grant

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Mary J.C. Hendrix, Ph.D., University of Iowa professor and head of anatomy and cell biology, has received a $1.3 million, five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute.

Hendrix, the associate director of basic research and deputy director for the UI Cancer Center, is investigating the regulation of the uveal melanoma interconverted phenotype, which is related to eye cancer.

"Our long-range goal is to develop clinical intervention strategies based on newly discovered biological mechanisms that are responsible for spreading metastatic uveal melanoma, also called ocular melanoma," Hendrix said.

To accomplish this goal, Hendrix and her colleagues are using a multifaceted approach to determine the biological relevance of proteins associated with the invasive ability of these cancerous cells to spread from the eye throughout the body. Once these proteins are characterized, researchers can then develop protein inhibitors to try to prevent the formation and spread of ocular melanoma.

Hendrix's co-investigators include Robert Folberg, M.D.; Frederick C. Blodi Professor of Ophthalmology and the Visual Sciences and pathology; Richard Seftor, Ph.D., research scientist in anatomy and cell biology; Elisabeth Seftor, senior research specialist in anatomy and cell biology; Andrew Maniotis, Ph.D., assistant research scientist in anatomy and cell biology; Beverly Davidson, Ph.D., associate professor of internal medicine; H. Culver Boldt, M.D., associate professor of ophthalmology and the visual sciences; and Robert Woolson, Ph.D., professor of preventive medicine and environmental health, and statistics and actuarial science.

"It is a privilege to work with such a talented and insightful investigative team affiliated with the UI Cancer Center," Hendrix said.

Hendrix, who joined the UI faculty in June 1996, received her bachelor's degree in biology/pre-med from Shepherd College in 1974 and her doctorate in anatomy from George Washington University in 1977. From 1980 until 1993, she was on the faculty of the University of Arizona. She then served as a professor and director of the Pediatric Research Institute at St. Louis University School of Medicine and Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital until 1996.

She was recently appointed president-elect of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), consisting of approximately 65,000 scientists who work in biomedical research.