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Mark Hellmich, PhDMark Hellmich, Ph.D.

Project: Pancreatic Cancer
Translational Relevance: This project involves the downregulation of tumor suppressor genes in the metastatic spread of pancreatic cancer. Orthotopic and metastatic animal models of pancreatic cancer will be used.

Project: Molecular mechanisms of inflammation-induced pancreatic cancer
Translational Relevance: Pancreatitis is an inflammatory process that has been implicated in the etiology of pancreatic cancer. This project involves the study of peptide hormone receptor-mediated pathways become dysregulated during acute pancreatitis and contribute to pancreatic cancer development.

Project: Role of hydrogen sulfide in colon cancer progression
Translational Relevance: The development of novel therapeutics in the treatment of colon cancer by modulation hydrogen sulfide levels.


Celia Chao, M.D.Celia Chao, M.D.

Project: Cancer Associated Fibroblasts in Colorectal and Pancreatic Cancer
Translational Relevance: This study focuses on the pro-tumorigenic functions of fibroblasts isolated from primary colon and pancreatic tumors.

Project: Colon Cancer Stem Cells
Translational Relevance: This study focuses on key paracrine signaling pathways that drive colorectal stem cell growth and progression.


Celia Chao, M.D.Taylor S. Riall, M.D., Ph.D.

Project: Utilization and patterns of care in patients with pancreatic cancer
Translational Relevance: This project using Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)–Medicare linked data and broadly focuses on patterns of care across the spectrum of patients with pancreatic cancer including underutilization of surgical resection for patients with early stage cancer, use of hospice care at the end of life, and survivorship. By analyzing patterns of care and barriers to receipt of appropriate care this type of research has the potential to impact health policy.

Project: Adherence to guidelines/management of complicated gallstone disease in elderly patients
Translational Relevance: This study uses Medicare data to study current adherence to guidelines regarding definitive therapy for complicated gallstone disease, which has not been systematically studied in older patients. It identifies risk factors for not receiving appropriate care and has national health policy implications. In addition, these data are used to implement policy locally at UTMB by implementation of clinical pathways.