Alphonse Sirica publishes volume on new mechanistic insights into hepatobiliary cancer

Dr. Alphonse Sirica is a Professor Emeritus of Pathology (Cellular and Molecular Pathogenesis) and Distinguished Career Professor, Department of Pathology, Virginia Commonwealth University and Paul B. Fisher, Professor and Chairman, Department of Human and Molecular Genetics, Institute of Molecular Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University, VA, USA. He recently published an edited volume of Advances in Cancer Research entitled “Hepatobiliary Cancers: Translational Advances and Molecular Medicine, Vol 156.” This is a comprehensive, timely, and authoritative volume highlighting recent basic, translational, and clinical research advances and challenges aimed at fostering new mechanistic insights into hepatobiliary cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma) pathogenesis and developing predictive and therapeutic strategies

Hepatobiliary cancer refers to primary malignant tumors originating in cells of the liver, bile ducts, and gallbladder. Globally, primary liver cancer, which includes hepatocellular carcinoma (~75 % of all cases) and intrahepatic biliary cancer or cholangiocarcinoma (~10-15 % of all cases) is the 6th most commonly diagnosed cancer and 3rd leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. The vast majority of these highly malignant cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage where treatment options are limited and patient survival outcomes are poor. The biological and therapeutic challenges posed by hepatobiliary cancers such as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) are daunting, emphasizing a critical need to review and assess current and evolving basic, translational, and clinical research focused on addressing the critical obstacles that continue to limit progress towards achieving significant improvements in HCC and CCA clinical management and patient survival outcomes. Towards this goal, this special edition of Advances in Cancer Research is focused on providing a comprehensive, timely and authoritative reviews covering such topics of significant scientific and clinical relevance, including hepatobiliary cancer risk mechanisms and risk-predictive molecular biomarkers; causes and functional intricacies of inter- and intratumor heterogeneity; novel insights into the role of tumor microenvironment and key signaling pathways in promoting hepatobiliary cancer progression, therapeutic resistance and immunosuppression; emerging biomarkers of HCC and CCA prognosis; advances in molecular genomics for personalizing tumor classification and targeted therapies; innovative preclinical cell culture modeling for hepatobiliary cancer drug discovery; and current and emerging trends in hepatobiliary cancer molecular therapeutic targeting and immunotherapies.

The full citation is: Sirica, A.E. and Fisher, P.B., Editors, Advances in Cancer Research, Hepatobiliary Cancers: Translational Advances and Precision Medicine, 2022, Vol 156, pp. 1-449. Academic Press an imprint of Elsevier.

Online Database of crop pest cell lines

Dr. Subba Reddy Palli (Chair of the Department of Entomology at the University of Kentucky, and Co-director of the Center for Arthropod Management) has developed an online database of crop pest cell lines. The details of this database were recently published in In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology-Animal and this article is included as a Journal Highlight in this issue of the In Vitro Report. For more information on this online database, please read the article published in Entomology Today.

Fay promoted to Dean

Dr. Michael J. Fay has been promoted to Dean of the College of Graduate Studies at Midwestern University. In this new role Dr. Fay works with the basic science departments (Anatomy, Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics, Microbiology & Immunology, Pathology, Pharmacology and Physiology) on the Downers Grove, IL and Glendale, AZ campuses. He also works with the Biomedical Sciences Programs, Master of Public Health Program and Precision Medicine Program on the AZ and IL campuses.

Vendrame Honored for VR Lab

Dr. Wagner Vendrame received the NACTA Excellence in Teaching and Learning with Technology award.  Only one is given each year. The award was given for the development of a 3D Micropropagation Virtual Laboratory for the courses Micropropagation of Horticultural Crops (PLS4242C) and Advanced Micropropagation (PLS5241C), both courses he teaches during Fall semesters.

The development of a virtual reality lab aimed at complementing and enhancing the laboratory sessions is offered during the course and involved the use of 360 videos captured at 6K resolution using a GoPro Max camera and the 3D Vista Virtual Tour software.  It also included multifunctional hotspots and clickable objects (equipment, materials and supplies), which upon clicking, would open windows with explanations about the object selected. The virtual lab was integrated into the Canvas platform used for online teaching at UF, thus facilitating student access via computer, tablet or cell phone, and it is also compatible with VR headsets such as Oculus Quest 2.

National Leadership Grant awarded

Dr. Valerie Pence of the Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden recently was awarded a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services for the project, “Advancing the Science of Conservation Cryoiotebchnology:  Using Oaks as a Model for Improving the In Vitro Technologies Supporting Exceptional Plant Conservation.” The project will have three parts: 1) a deep dive into factors affecting shoot culture and somatic embryo culture initiation in six threatened species of Quercus (oak); 2) small grants to distribute to five other institutions to conduct similar research; 3) updates and additions to the List of Exceptional Plants and the Exceptional Plant Conservation website (  The latter will include development of a new online tool, the Comparative In Vitro database.  There are 600 oak species in the world and about a quarter of these are threatened (including 1/3 of the 91 species of oaks in the U.S.). Since acorns cannot survive seed banking, the group poses significant conservation challenges.  A goal of this project is to make culture initiation of oaks and other species more efficient and predictable, providing cultures for cryopreservation. It will also support a graduate student, in collaboration with the University of Cincinnati, to study genetic changes that may occur during oak culture initiation. More broadly, the grant will continue to expand resources for work on exceptional plants, particularly in the area of improving the efficiency of developing in vitro protocols for species new to culture.  The project began Sept 1, 2022, and will run through Aug 31, 2025.

Researcher stays in Nepal to initiate research activities in GMOs and gene editing technologies

Dr. Sarbesh Das Dangol, is a visiting lecturer at the Central Department of Biotechnology (CDBT), Tribhuvan University (autonomous central university, Government of Nepal), delivering lectures and practical classes for postgraduate students and supervising their thesis research. He is also engaged at SIVB as an ad-hoc committee for social media engagement.  He completed his PhD in potato using CRISPR/Cas9 technology from Nigde Omer Halisdemir University (Turkey) in 2021 with the support of The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK, national agency of Turkey) and the part of his PhD research work was performed at the James Hutton Institute, United Kingdom, with the support from ERASMUS+ program. He delivered an oral presentation on his PhD thesis as a student finalist at SIVB 2019 meeting in Tampa, Florida. He is also a member at Young Scientist Forum Nepal (YSFN)- Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST, autonomous apex body established by the government of Nepal) established to promote science in Nepal with the collaboration of young Nepali scientists from around the world. The research activities in Nepal are currently scanty and snail-paced, with very low funding opportunities from the government for research grants. With no job opportunities and research grants available for biotech scientists in Nepal, they have been experiencing mass exodus and brain-drain of colleagues in the country. Despite all these challenges in Nepal, Sarbesh has decided to stay, because he feels that someone should initiate research activities in Nepal, notably on GMOs and gene editing technologies, both of which would be the first of its kind in Nepal. They often look up to international donors to support them on research endeavors, and he is seeking international funding to contribute in his field by writing research proposals on behalf of the CDBT department. He also has plans to undergo postdoctoral position abroad for a year or two to further enhance his knowledge and skills and to enhance international collaborations with his laboratory and university. You can reach him here.


I appreciate the opportunity to serve as your Representative to the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, or CAST.

I’m passing along highlights of CAST’s latest accomplishments through the CAST Summary of Activities which can be accessed via the link at the end of this summary. The following link will take you to their recently released Special Publication, Zoonotic Diseases in Animal Agriculture and Beyond: A One Health Perspectivea summary of the 2022 Borlaug CAST Communication Award presentation at the World Food Prize; an overview of their 2022 Annual Meeting/50th Anniversary Celebration; and more.

As you know, I participate in the CAST ‘FOOD WORK GROUP’ that meets monthly via Zoom to discuss current projects under development and to identify and frame topics for future CAST publications. I think you will be interested to see the attached listing of forthcoming CAST publications currently being developed.

Additionally, the CAST team welcomes and encourages feedback and suggestions on issues we should be pursuing. So, feel free to share with me any ideas you may have for a CAST publication. I would be pleased to bring them to the group for discussion at an upcoming work group meeting. Also know that the CAST EVP/CEO, Kent Schescke, is always available for a Zoom meeting to discuss ways to deepen our partnership and engagement with CAST.

Thank you again for the opportunity to support CAST’s unique and effective way of communicating sound, unbiased information on food and science.

This link will take you to a more complete summary of the Cast Activities from June through December.

Dwight Tomes
SIVB representative to CAST

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