14th Annual Albert R. Taxin Golf and Bridge Classic Supports Brain Tumor Research

14th Annual Albert R. Taxin Golf and Bridge Classic Supports Brain Tumor Research

June 29, 2009

(PHILADELPHIA – June 30, 2009) – The 14th annual Albert R. Taxin Golf and Bridge Classic raised more than $120,000 to advance brain tumor research at The Wistar Institute Albert R. Taxin Brain Tumor Research Center. The Classic was held June 22 at Green Valley Country Club, in Lafayette Hill, Pa.

More than 250 friends and supporters of The Wistar Institute participated in the Classic, including 2009 event co-chairs Fran and Sylvan Tobin; Wistar ambassador and former Eagles head coach Dick Vermeil; founder and honorary chair Doris Taxin; 2008 Golf Association of Philadelphia amateur champion Michael McDermott; and Wistar President and CEO Russel E. Kaufman, M.D.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Taxin Brain Tumor Research Center, where scientists have made significant progress in understanding the causes of brain tumors and applying this knowledge toward developing better treatments to fight them. Examples of Taxin Center research include:

  • Nadia Dahmane, Ph.D., conducts research with important implications for two types of childhood brain cancer: medulloblastoma and glioblastoma. Medulloblastoma is the most common of all pediatric brain tumors. Although treatment of medulloblastoma has improved significantly over the past 20 years and more than half of diagnosed children survive, they often have long-term side effects because current standard therapies also damage healthy tissue. Dahmane's research focuses on the Sonic hedgehog (SHH) pathway which plays a critical role both in normal brain development and, when disrupted, in brain cancer. Dahmane discovered a novel gene called znf238 that appears to control this pathway, and she has been investigating its function both in normal development and in brain tumors. By understanding the details of how this pathway is regulated, she hopes to identify new, targeted approaches to treating medulloblastoma, glioblastoma, and other malignancies that develop when the pathway is disrupted.
  • Joseph Kissil, Ph.D., studies neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2), an inherited disorder that affects about one in 30,000 people. People with NF2 develop tumors around the auditory nerve, which carries information from the ears to the brain. Eventually, these tumors intrude into the brain, causing hearing loss, balance problems, and compression of the brainstem. There is no cure for NF2 and most patients die within 15 years of diagnosis. Kissil studies the molecular events underlying NF2 with the goal of developing better therapeutics. NF2 occurs as a result of mutations in a gene called NF2, which codes for a protein called merlin. As a result of these mutations, the merlin protein cannot carry out its normal function, which is to suppress the development of tumors. Kissil has identified compounds that target this pathway and which hold promise for preventing the formation of tumors in NF2.
  • Qihong Huang, M.D., Ph.D., is developing and applying novel, genome-wide screening methods to investigate the fundamental mechanisms of tumor development. His work focuses on biological molecules called microRNAs, which are key molecules involved in the regulation of just about every genetic pathway. They appear to function as oncogenes and tumor suppressors, and misregulation of certain microRNAs has been linked to the development of glioblastoma. Huang uses chemical tools to define the molecular pathways controlling the development of glioblastoma, and to identify small molecule inhibitors of these microRNAs with the potential for further development into new drugs for the treatment of this aggressive form of brain cancer.

The Taxin Golf and Bridge Classic honors the memory of Albert R. Taxin, who died in 1993 at the age of 53 of an inoperable and incurable brain tumor. Taxin was the long-time proprietor of Old Original Bookbinder’s restaurant. Since its inception, the Classic has raised almost $1.5 million for brain tumor research at Wistar.

The 14th annual Classic and Bridge Tournament was made possible in part by support from generous donors including Sylvan and Frances Tobin, Ronald and Evelyn Krancer, the Taxin and Rousso families, Ronald and Marcia Rubin, Robert and Esther Fox, Ira and Eileen Ingerman, Joseph and Sharon Kestenbaum, Cozen O’Connor, and Daniel Wheeler and Amy Fox.

The Wistar Institute is an international leader in biomedical research with special expertise in cancer research and vaccine development. Founded in 1892 as the first independent nonprofit biomedical research institute in the country, Wistar has long held the prestigious Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute. The Institute works actively to ensure that research advances move from the laboratory to the clinic as quickly as possible. The Wistar Institute: Today’s Discoveries – Tomorrow’s Cures. On the Web at www.wistar.org.