Froemke Lecture to Feature Dr. Dan Dixon '87

Event Details

Date: September 21, 2018

Times: Lecture begins at 4 p.m.; reception at 3:30 p.m.

Location: Room 370 of the Froiland Science Complex

Ticket Info: Free and open to the public

The John A. Froemke Chemistry Lecture Series presents Dr. Dan Dixon '87, Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular Biosciences at The University of Kansas. His lecture, "Adventures in DNA and RNA Regulation” starts at 4 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 21, in Room 370 of the Froiland Science Complex.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

Dr. Dan Dixon '87Dan A. Dixon was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, and earned his B.A. degree (magna cum laude) in Biology and Chemistry from Augustana University in 1987. He was awarded a Ph.D. degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from Northwestern University Medical Center in 1994 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Program in Human Molecular Biology & Genetics at the University of Utah. He then held faculty positions in the Division of Surgical Oncology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (Research Assistant Professor), and Department of Biological Sciences (Assistant/ Associate Professor) and Associate Director of the Center for Colon Cancer Research at the University of South Carolina.

Dr. Dixon now serves as Co-Leader of the Cancer Prevention & Survivorship Program at the National Cancer Institute-designated University of Kansas Cancer Center and Associate Professor of Molecular Biosciences at the University of Kansas.

The focus of Dr. Dixon’s research is on understanding how loss of post-transcriptional gene regulation can influence tumorigenesis. His laboratory has made discoveries establishing the role of post- transcriptional gene regulation in tumor development and has identified new factors in this pathway as biomarkers and cancer prevention targets. Dr. Dixon’s work has been published in high-impact journals such as Cell, Journal of Clinical Investigation, and Gastroenterology. He serves on the editorial boards for Cancer Research and npj Precision Oncology, and is an American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute Councillor for the Gastrointestinal Oncology Section. He is a frequent grant reviewer for various national and international foundations, along with serving as Chair for the USAMRMC (Department of Defense) Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program Programmatic Panel. Dr. Dixon also serves as Medical Advisory Board Member and Research Advocate Scientific Training Advisor for Fight Colorectal Cancer Advocacy Foundation.

Colorectal cancer is a devastating disease that will affect 1 in 20 people in the US. While deaths from colon can-cer has improved over the past decade due to increased emphasis on preventive screening, this widespread disease continues to rank as one of the top cancers in incidence and mortality. Commonly observed in colon tumors (and other tumor types) is over- expression of many oncogenes and pro-inflammatory factors that fuel tumor growth. Normally, the mRNA transcripts for these genes are targeted for rapid degradation, thus limiting their expression for maintenance of homeostasis. This level of gene regulation occurs through post-transcriptional mechanisms involving RNA-binding proteins and microRNAs that "seek-and-destroy" these mRNAs after they are expressed. However, this critical mechanism is lost in tumor cells allowing for pathogenic gene overexpression.

The two primary RNA-binding proteins associated with post-transcriptional regulation are the mRNA stability factor HuR and the mRNA decay factor TTP. A common feature observed in many tumor types is the overexpression of the stability factor HuR and loss of the decay factor TTP. These combined defects in tumor cells allow oncogenic mRNAs to escape their normal fate being degraded. Using molecular, cellular, and in vivo approaches, we are examining the functional significance post-transcriptional regulation plays in controlling tumor progression, along with testing novel therapeutic approaches targeting mRNA stabilization in tumor cells and identifying new cancer biomarkers for prevention.

Dr. John Froemke (1893-1988) was a professor of chemistry at Augustana from 1930 to 1964. During Augustana’s development as a major educational institution in South Dakota, Froemke and his wife, Mary, made numerous important contributions to the chemistry department and the University. The John A. Froemke Chemistry Lecture Series was established to honor his contributions, featuring notable Augustana chemistry alumni.