UNMC Grants - Dr. Oakley receives grant from American Cancer Society

by Lisa Spellman, UNMC public relations | January 05, 2010

picture disc.Greg Oakley, Ph.D., a cancer researcher at the UNMC College of Dentistry, recently received a four-year $720,000 grant from the American Cancer Society to study DNA damage and how cells repair themselves.

Dr. Oakley studies the process by which cells, good or bad, are damaged by chemotherapy and he looks for ways to protect the healthy cells.

Dr. Oakley hopes to do this by targeting a protein called Replication Protein A (RPA).

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Greg Oakley, Ph.D., left, and Jason Glanzer, Ph.D. (Peggy Cain, College of Dentistry)
"Once a cell is damaged RPA jumps into action to begin the repair process by recruiting other proteins," Dr. Oakley said. "If we can find a way to inhibit the activation of this protein in cancer cells then it could be a useful target for cancer therapy."

Dr. Oakley, who has degrees in toxicology and pharmacy, came to the College of Dentistry in 2006 from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center where he first studied RPA in 1996.

His research crystallized last year when his research associate, Dr. Jason Glanzer's young daughter, five-year-old Abby Glanzer, developed a brain tumor. Abby was featured in the "Burger King Help Beat Cancer for Kids" campaign this year. She is now in remission.

"It brought the research home and gave it special meaning," Dr. Oakley said.