Today’s Cancer-Fighting Spartan Researchers

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Today’s Cancer-Fighting Spartan Researchers

Cisplatin was approved by the FDA in 1978, revolutionizing the treatment of certain cancers, especially testicular, bladder, lung and stomach cancers, and saving countless lives.

Known as the “penicillin of cancer drugs,” cisplatin was discovered at Michigan State University in the 1960s by Dr. Barnett Rosenberg, Loretta Van Camp and Thomas Krigas. It’s one of the first, most widely prescribed, and most effective treatments for many cancer diagnoses.

The university’s share of licensing royalties from MSU-owned innovations go to the MSU Foundation, a nonprofit corporation established to support MSU, particularly in its research mission and subsequent commercialization activities at MSU Innovation Center.

Cooperation between the MSU Foundation and the MSU Innovation Center helps create a virtuous cycle of reinvestment in commercializing technologies serving the greater good. Even now, long after the patents have expired, the impact of cisplatin and carboplatin continue to deliver benefits to the University.

Three University researchers working on cancer-fighting discoveries of their own will speak at a symposium celebrating the 40th anniversary of cisplatin’s FDA approval. 

For more about the symposium, visit

Sophia Lunt

Sophia Lunt, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and of chemical engineering and materials science in MSU’s College of Natural Science.

The Lunt Lab focuses on understanding the role of metabolism in supporting cancer proliferation, heterogeneity and metastasis. Combining powerful mass spectrometry, cell biology and genetic models of cancer, Lunt and her team investigate metabolic regulation in this complex disease.

“We aim to rationally design more effective, personalized therapies for cancer based on metabolic targeting,” Lunt says on her lab’s website.

Lunt was one of only four scientists in the U.S. to receive a 2016 NextGen Grant for Transformative Cancer Research from the American Association for Cancer Research. The $450,000 grant, which runs through July 1, 2019, enables Lunt and her team to examine and explain metabolic pathways vital for pancreatic cancer growth, ultimately leading to the development of new treatment strategies she hopes will provide much-needed treatment options for pancreatic cancer patients.

She will speak at 2:45 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4, on deciphering metabolic rewiring in cancer

For more about her lab and research, visit

Anna Moore

Anna Moore, Ph.D., recently joined MSU as the director of Precision Health Program and assistant dean at the College of Human Medicine after conducting research as a professor of radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School for more than 26 years.

Moore’s research is aimed at developing theranostic agents for imaging and therapy in cancer and diabetes. Theranostics is a new field of medicine which combines specific targeted therapy based on specific targeted diagnostic tests.

Her research interests are directed at development and use of in vivo molecular imaging technologies as indispensable preclinical and clinical tool to unravel complex biological pathways and pathogenic mechanisms in various diseases including cancer.

Early in her research she recognized the need to use imaging for detection of specific alterations in genomic makeup paving the way to personalized medicine approach. As imaging became a powerful tool in biomedical research, her work shifted from developing target-specific contrast agents to using these agents for direct delivery of therapeutic drugs.

She will speak at 3:15 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4, on precision nanomedicine in cancer therapy.

For more about her lab and research, visit

Jetze Tepe

Jetze Tepe, Ph.D., is an associate professor of synthetic and bioorganic chemistry in MSU’s chemistry department with more than 20 years of experience in academic drug discovery.

Research in Tepe’s lab provides an interdisciplinary blend of synthetic and medicinal chemistry that includes the total synthesis of natural products, the discovery of new reactions, as well as the evaluation for their cellular mechanism and medicinal properties.

Natural products are still the primary source for medicines, and marine sponge metabolites represent a highly diverse and complex class of natural products with remarkable biological activities. Tepe’s lab is focused on the total synthesis of marine sponge alkaloids to examine their potent anti-cancer and anti-neurodegenerative properties.

He will speak at 3:45 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4, on therapeutic applications of small molecule proteasome activation.