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DiGiovanni joins college faculty

photoDr. John DiGiovanni, internationally known cancer researcher, has joined the faculty of the College of Pharmacy.

DiGiovanni comes to the university as a professor of pharmacy and nutrition with a 50 percent appointment in both the College of Pharmacy's Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology and the College of Natural Science's Department of Nutritional Sciences.  He will hold the Coulter R. Sublett Chair in Pharmacy, and his research lab will be located at the new Dell Pediatric Research Institute (DPRI), adjacent to Dell Children's Hospital.

He most recently served as professor of carcinogenesis at the UT M.D. Anderson Science Park Cancer Research Center.

"John DiGiovanni is one of the preeminent researchers in oncology, and we are delighted to welcome him to our faculty," Crismon said.  "His research is complimentary to that of many of our current faculty members, and I am excited to consider the investigative collaborations that will, no doubt, develop."

DiGiovanni was highly recruited for the Sublett Chair based upon his educational background, his research expertise and productivity, and his strong communication skills, Crismon said.   He brings with him six prestigious Research Project Grants (RO1 grants) from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).   In addition, he is the principal investigator of the NIEHS grant for the Center for Research on Environmental Diseases, housed at the Smithville Science Park. 

The new faculty member's internationally recognized research program centers on deciphering the participation cellular signaling pathways that are disrupted during carcinogenesis.  Much of his previous work focused on skin tumors; however, his increasing emphasis includes investigation of the relationship between obesity and cancer, including early life exposure.

These findings have important implications for identifying mechanisms by which chemicals found in the environment might lead to the development of cancer and to understand strategies to prevent and treat tumors.  His research is synergistic with that of other toxicology faculty in the college.

Research from his lab is considered translational meaning that findings are directly linked to treatments.  Translational research begins at "the (laboratory) bench" with basic research involving scientists studying disease at a molecular or cellular level.  It then progresses to the clinical level, or the "bedside", for direct application to patient care.  Scientists are increasingly aware that this bench-to-bedside approach is a two-way street where basic scientists provide clinicians with new tools for treatment and assessment in patients while clinical researchers make novel observations about the nature and progression of disease that often additional stimulate basic investigations.

DiGiovanni's initiatives are expected to involve collaborative efforts among current UT faculty.  Joining him in the new DPRI facility will be Dr. Steven Hursting, professor and chair of nutrition; Dr. Carla Van Den Berg, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology; and several other nutrition faculty members.

The researcher earned his B.S. (1974) and Ph.D. (1978) in pharmacy from the University of Washington before completing a postdoctoral fellowship at McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research at the University of Wisconsin (1978-1980).   He has published almost 200 primary research papers.

See also Oncology Researcher Joins Faculty to Study Link Between Obesity and Cancer

Last Reviewed: February 23, 2010
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