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Colleen Spees, M.Ed, RD, LD

Award Name TL1

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Dysregulation of P53 Gene in Prostate Carcinogenesis

Colleen Spees, Doctoral Fellow of Internal Medicine, has been awarded a TL1 Trainee award by the OSU Center for Clinical and Translational Science. These two-year awards give the recipients the opportunity to gain individual valuable experience and training in clinical and translational research, while working with an experienced mentor.

Spees, mentored by Drs. Steven Clinton and Kay Wolf, is studying TP53 gene mutations, which are believed to be correlated with a poorer prognosis in men with prostate cancer. Dysregulation of p53 may also be correlated with dietary intake.

Spees, a registered dietitian, is collaborating with the Harvard School of Public Health to study tissue samples and records from a prospective cohort of men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS). Although over 25 years of dietary records have been analyzed in the HPFS cohort, this project will be the first of its kind to assess the relationship of dietary patterns to p53 dysregulation in any human cancer.

“These efforts will provide data to support future studies of nutrition and gene interactions that may be critical to our understanding of human carcinogenesis and its prevention,” Spees said.

This study will also be the largest ever conducted that will assess the role of p53 dysregulation in human prostate cancer. As the “guardian of the genome,” p53 is a key regulator for the cell cycle, and functions as a tumor suppressor involved in cancer prevention. Through her research, Spees hopes to determine if specific dietary factors or patterns have an impact on decreased severity or progression of prostate cancer.

Without question, p53 is one of the most vital regulatory genes in the genome, and its mutations are noted in approximately 50% of all human cancers. Spees believes that the results of this study will not only contribute to current research and increase knowledge about p53, but could eventually impact treatment options and novel therapies to reduce the cancer burden on society.

“Thanks to support from the CCTS, I am able to focus on training necessary for me to emerge as a competent academic scientist,” Spees said. “Ultimately, I aspire to become a leading nutritional genomics professional through my research efforts and to see these accomplishments translated into applications for human health and for the education of future generations of new investigators in nutritional genomics.”

By Brooke Norris, Thursday, March 11, 2010

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