University of Nebraska Medical Center Researcher Awarded $720,000 ACS Grant

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Greg Oakley, Ph.D., a cancer researcher at the UNMC College of Dentistry recently received a four-year $720,000 grant from the American Cancer Society.

The focus of his research, DNA damage and how cells repair themselves is one way Dr. Oakley hopes to find ways to make chemotherapy more effective.

He is looking at the process by which cells, good or bad, are damaged by chemotherapy and find a way to protect the healthy cells.

Dr. Oakley hopes to do this by targeting a protein called Replication Protein A (RPA).

“Once a cell is damaged RPA jumps into action to begin the repair process by recruiting other proteins,” Dr. Oakley said. “If we can find a way to inhibit the activation of this protein in cancer cells then it could be a useful target for cancer therapy.”

Dr. Oakley, who has degrees in toxicology and pharmacy, came to the College of Dentistry in 2006 from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center where he first began studying RPA in 1996.

His research crystallized last year when his research associate, Dr. Jason Glanzer’s young daughter, five-year-old Abby Glanzer, developed a brain tumor.  Abby was featured in the “Burger King Help Beat Cancer for Kids” campaign this year. She is now in remission.

“It brought the research home and gave it special meaning,” Dr. Oakley said.

(Photo by Peggy Cain)