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1.  Reducing Disparities in the Burden of Cancer: The Role of Patient Navigators 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(7):e193.
Many racial and ethnic minority patients with cancer face barriers related to access to health care and information. Patient navigators, say the authors, could help to overcome these barriers.
PMCID: PMC1489186  PMID: 16805649
2.  Cigarette smoking during pregnancy: chromosome translocations and phenotypic susceptibility in mothers and newborns 
Mutation research  2010;696(1):81-88.
The effects of maternal cigarette smoking during pregnancy on structural chromosome aberrations were evaluated in peripheral lymphocytes from 239 mothers and their 241 newborns to determine whether smoking during pregnancy, genetic susceptibility, and race are associated with chromosome aberrations including translocations. Demographic information and cigarette smoking data were obtained via questionnaire. There were 119 Caucasian Americans, 118 African Americans, and 2 Asian Americans. The average maternal age was 24.9 ± 5.8 (mean ± S.D.) years. Thirty-nine percent of the Caucasian Americans and 45.4% of the African Americans self-reported that they were active smokers during the index pregnancy. The average number of cigarettes smoked per day was 2.65 ± 5.75 and 1.37 ± 3.17 for Caucasian and African American mothers, respectively. Peripheral blood lymphocytes from the mother and from the fetal side of the placenta were evaluated for chromosome aberrations by whole chromosome painting and for genetic susceptibility using an in vitro bleomycin challenge assay. Spontaneous translocation frequencies in both maternal and newborn lymphocytes were not associated with cigarette smoking, socio-economic status, or education. The absence of a smoking effect may be attributable to the low level of cigarette usage in these subjects. The average bleomycin-induced damage in the maternal and newborn populations was 0.37 ± 0.27 and 0.15 ± 0.14 breaks per cell, respectively, a difference that was highly significant (p < 0.0001). In newborns there was a positive association between bleomycin sensitivity and the frequencies of aberrations as measured by chromosome painting: p ≤ 0.0007 for dicentrics and fragments, and p ≤ 0.002 for translocations. Caucasian American newborns demonstrated a significant association between dicentrics and fragments as measured by painting, and bleomycin sensitivity (p ≤ 0.0002), but no such association was observed for African American newborns. The results of this study indicate that while differences were observed between African Americans and Caucasian Americans, race does not appear to be a major contributor to chromosome damage in newborns or their mothers. However, peripheral lymphocytes in pregnant women are more susceptible to genetic damage than peripheral lymphocytes in newborns.
PMCID: PMC3519101  PMID: 20060061
cigarette smoking; pregnancy; newborns; mothers; chromosome translocations; genomic susceptibility
3.  Flor-Essence® herbal tonic does not inhibit estrogen receptor negative mammary tumor development in a transgenic mouse model 
Journal of complementary & integrative medicine  2011;8:10.2202/1553-3840.1157.
Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer often self-administer complementary and alternative medicines to augment their conventional treatments, improve health, or prevent recurrence. Flor-Essence® herbal tonic is a complex mixture of eight herbal extracts used by cancer patients because of anecdotal evidence that it can treat or prevent disease. In this study four experimental groups of female MMTV-Neu mice were left untreated or treated with 3% Flor-Essence® in utero, from birth until 5 weeks of age, or throughout their lifetime. Palpable mammary tumor incidence and body weight was determined weekly for each group. The mice were sacrificed at 28 weeks of age and mammary tumors were enumerated to determine average tumor incidence and multiplicity for each group. Female mice exposed to Flor-Essence® herbal tonic in utero weighed significantly more than the control group (p < 0.001). The average tumor incidence and tumor multiplicity in the experimental mice treated with Flor-Essence® herbal tonic did not differ from the control animals. Flor-Essence® does not inhibit mammary tumor incidence or mammary tumor multiplicity in MMTV-Neu transgenic mice. Flor-Essence® exposure in utero causes increased body weight in experimental animals. This conclusion challenges widely available anecdotal information as well as the hopes of the consumer that this product will inhibit or suppress tumor development.
Lay Abstract
Flor-Essence® herbal tonic is a complex mixture of eight herbal extracts often used by women with breast cancer in hopes that it will help cure disease or prevent recurrence. There is currently very little scientific data to support or refute its self-administration. We tested whether Flor-Essence® would influence tumor development in the mammary glands of a mouse model of Her2/neu breast cancer. The tonic was given at different life stages to determine if timing of the exposure influenced the response to treatment. This report shows that Flor-Essence® did not inhibit mammary tumor development in the treated mice challenging anecdotal information, as well as the hopes of the consumer, that this product will inhibit or suppress tumor development. This report also shows that Flor-Essence® exposure in utero causes increased body weight in experimental animals.
PMCID: PMC3518418  PMID: 22754942
complementary and alternative medicine; MMTV-Neu; herbal tonic; mammary tumors; transgenic; mouse; dietary supplement; essiac
4.  Collaboration and Team Science: From Theory to Practice 
Interdisciplinary efforts are becoming more critical for scientific discovery and translational research efforts. Highly integrated and interactive research teams share a number of features that contribute to their success in developing and sustaining their efforts over time. Through analysis of in-depth interviews with members of highly successful research teams and others that did not meet their goals or ended due to conflicts, we identified key elements that appear critical for team success and effectiveness. There is no debate that the scientific goal sits at the center of the collaborative effort. However, supporting features need to be in place to avoid the derailment of the team. Among the most important of these is trust: without trust the team dynamic runs the risk of deteriorating over time. Other critical factors of which both leaders and participants need to be aware include developing a shared vision, strategically identifying team members and purposefully building the team, promoting disagreement while containing conflict, and setting clear expectations for sharing credit and authorship. Self-awareness and strong communication skills contribute greatly to effective leadership and management strategies of scientific teams. While all successful teams share the characteristic of effectively carrying out these activities, there is no single formula for execution with every leader exemplifying different strengths and weaknesses. Successful scientific collaborations have strong leaders who are self -aware and are mindful of the many elements critical for supporting the science at the center of the effort.
PMCID: PMC3652225  PMID: 22525233
collaboration; trust; translational research; managing conflict while promoting disagreement; sharing credit
Energy balance, including diet, weight, adiposity, and physical activity is associated with carcinogenesis. Epidemiological studies indicate that obesity and sedentary and/or active behavior are risk factors for breast cancer in postmenopausal women and survival in both pre-and postmenopausal breast cancer patients. Thus, understanding energy balance modulation’s influence on changes in gene expression patterns in the normal mammary gland is important for understanding mechanisms linking energy balance and breast cancer. In a six week long study, female C57BL/6 mice (9 weeks old) were randomized into four groups: 1) food consumed ad libitum (AL); 2) AL with access to running wheels (AL+EX); 3) 30% Calorie Restricted (CR); and 4) 30% CR with access to running wheels (CR+EX). CR mice received 70% of calories but 100% of all other nutrients compared to AL mice. Diet and exercise treatments individually and combined, had significant effects on body composition and physical activity. Affymetrix oligo-microarrays were used to explore changes in gene expression patterns in total RNA samples from excised whole mammary glands. Contrasting AL versus CR resulted in 425 statistically significant expression changes whereas AL versus AL +EX resulted in 45 changes, with only 3 changes included the same genes, indicating that CR and EX differentially influence expression patterns in non-cancerous mammary tissue. Differential expression was observed in genes related to breast cancer stem cells, the epithelial -mesenchymal transition, and the growth and survival of breast cancer cells. Thus, CR and EX appear to exert their effects on mammary carcinogenesis through distinct pathways.
PMCID: PMC2798590  PMID: 19952363
Energy balance; calorie restriction; exercise; body composition; bone density; gene expression; mammary gland; mice
6.  International study of factors affecting human chromosome translocations 
Mutation research  2008;652(2):112-121.
Chromosome translocations in peripheral blood lymphocytes of normal, healthy humans increase with age, but the effects of gender, race, and cigarette smoking on background translocation yields have not been examined systematically. Further, the shape of the relationship between age and translocation frequency (TF) has not been definitively determined. We collected existing data from sixteen laboratories in North America, Europe, and Asia on TFs measured in peripheral blood lymphocytes by fluorescence in situ hybridization whole chromosome painting among 1933 individuals. In Poisson regression models, age, ranging from newborns (cord blood) to 85 years, was strongly associated with TF and this relationship showed significant upward curvature at older ages vs. a linear relationship (p <0.001). Ever smokers had significantly higher TFs than non-smokers (rate ratio (RR) = 1.19, 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.09–1.30) and smoking modified the effect of age on TFs with a steeper age-related increase among ever smokers compared to non-smokers (p<0.001). TFs did not differ by gender. Interpreting an independent effect of race was difficult owing to laboratory variation. Our study is three times larger than any pooled effort to date, confirming a suspected curvilinear relationship of TF with age. The significant effect of cigarette smoking has not been observed with previous pooled studies of TF in humans. Our data provide stable estimates of background TF by age, gender, race, and smoking status and suggest an acceleration of chromosome damage above age 60 and among those with a history of smoking cigarettes.
PMCID: PMC2696320  PMID: 18337160
chromosome translocations; background frequency; controls; fluorescence in situ hybridization

Results 1-6 (6)