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In-vivo Cellular and Molecular Imaging Center (ICMIC)




Career Development Component

The purpose of this component is to recruit and train scientists who will become the future leaders of cancer molecular imaging.  Our intent is that these awards should be used to induct exceptional postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty members, and provide them with a protective environment, within the backdrop of the JHU ICMIC Program, to become outstanding scientists with the ability to develop independent research programs in molecular imaging.  The CDC is structured to train and prepare research scientists and academic radiologists to become future leaders by fostering leadership skills, providing multidisciplinary training, mentorship and career guidance.  This will be facilitated by providing salary support, funding for supplies, and an opportunity for full participation in the JHU ICMIC research community.  We envision that investigators trained in this multi-departmental, disease-oriented group will have in-depth expertise in a specific imaging modality and general proficiency and knowledge of several imaging modalities.


Figure 1: Vision of JHU ICMIC CDC.

The CDC director and faculty members will oversee and provide guidance in the projects of the trainees and advise the JHU ICMIC program director on optimizing mentoring and training strategies to develop outstanding young scientists through this mechanism (Figure 1).  The CDC faculty covers a breadth of expertise in imaging, image analysis, oncology, computational analysis, and cell physiology, which will be available to all CDC trainees, independent of the mentor selected.  The CDC faculty consists of Drs. Barker (Director), Grossman, Pathak, Popel and Rao, with Dr. Wang from Howard University serving as consultant/collaborator. 


We have selected Dr. Marie-France Penet as our Career Development Awardee.  Dr. Penet was encouraged to identify her area of focus that she could develop independently, using the skills and expertise provided by the JHU ICMIC infrastructure.  Dr. Penet was asked to submit a research outline and chose to focus on ovarian cancer.  The data obtained during her award enabled her to apply for the highly competitive Honorable Tina Brozman Foundation Grant for Ovarian Cancer.  Dr. Penet was informed that she was awarded this grant for two years starting from July 2012. 

Career Development Award (Marie-France Penet, Ph.D.)

Specific Aim
To target breast and ovarian cancer with pantethine, and investigate the effect on tumor growth, the recruitment of tumor-associated macrophages, and the occurrence of metastases and ascites by modulating multiple pathways involved in tumor progression (fatty acid synthase, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors, inflammation).

Pantethine, the stable disulfide form of pantetheine, is the major component and precursor of Coenzyme A (CoA) and the prosthetic group of acyl carrier protein in the fatty acid synthase.  As a part of CoA, pantethine is a key regulator in lipid metabolism.  Since the active moiety of CoA is pantetheine, tumors can be treated with pantethine, its naturally-occurring form.  Pantethine has the advantage of being known as an anti-inflammatory and hypolipidemic agent with very few side effects.