INDIANAPOLIS– An internationally recognized expert on cancer survivorship will lead the development of a new research program at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center.
Lois B. Travis, M.D., Sc.D., has been named the Lawrence H. Einhorn Professor of Cancer Research at the IU School of Medicine and director of the Cancer Survivorship Research Program at the IU Simon Cancer Center. She is also a member of the cancer center’s Cancer Prevention and Control research program, which focuses on prevention, early detection and survivorship.
Dr. Travis also will hold an academic appointment in the Department of Epidemiology at the IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health.
The new survivorship program will include research to predict who is susceptible to toxicities in cancer treatment and then alter treatment or develop preventive measures to protect the patient from long-term adverse side effects. The program will not only benefit testis cancer patients, but it has the potential to impact the nearly six million people worldwide eligible for treatment with a platinum-based agent each year for 12 other types of cancer.
Lawrence H. Einhorn, M.D., an IU Distinguished Professor and Livestrong Foundation Professor of Oncology at the IU School of Medicine, revolutionized cancer treatment more than 40 years ago when he combined the platinum-based cisplatin with two additional drugs. The combination became the cure for testicular cancer.
Because of advances in early detection and treatment, more and more people are cancer survivors. It is estimated that there are nearly 14 million American cancer survivors. However, for many, they suffer adverse side effects from their cancer treatments.
“Dr. Travis is an exceptional researcher, and because of her, the IU Simon Cancer Center is in a unique position to impact the future direction of cancer survivorship research here and elsewhere,” Patrick J. Loehrer, M.D., director of the IU Simon Cancer Center, said. “Not only will she lead the new survivorship program, but she will help us to increase the breadth and depth of our Cancer Prevention and Control research program. That’s a program that impacts all Hoosiers as we seek to educate our fellow citizens about prevention and early detection.”
In addition, Dr. Travis is the principal investigator of a National Institutes of Health study that is open at the IU Simon Cancer Center and other sites around the nation and Canada. The trial aims to identify genetic variants associated with cisplatin-related toxicities, and focuses on testicular cancer patients previously treated at the IU Simon Cancer Center and other major cancer centers. This group of patients is ideal to address these particular research questions, given their young age at diagnosis, curability and relative uniformity of cisplatin-based chemotherapy.
Dr. Travis has assembled an international team of experts in oncology, neurology, hearing science, cardiology, statistical genetics, pharmacogenomics and other fields for this trial to better understand the long-term effects of cisplatin treatment not only for these patients, but other groups of survivors treated with cisplatin-based chemotherapy.
“I am greatly impressed by the IU Simon Cancer Center leadership and their commitment to creating an international center of excellence for cancer survivorship research,” Dr. Travis said. “This is appropriate since cisplatin-based chemotherapy to cure testicular cancer was introduced into clinical practice here in the 1970s. This is one of the landmark achievements in clinical oncology in the 20th century, and the platinum-based agents are now the most commonly used group of cytotoxic drugs worldwide. Moreover, the founder of this highly effective regimen, Dr. Larry Einhorn, remains actively engaged in clinical research.”
Previously, Dr. Travis was the director of the Rubin Center for Cancer Survivorship and chief of the Division of Cancer Survivorship at the University of Rochester Medical Center. She also was a senior principal investigator and lead research investigator at the National Cancer Institute, where for nearly 20 years she conducted international studies of late treatment effects in cancer survivors, with an emphasis on second malignant neoplasms.
Dr. Travis earned her medical degree from the University of Florida College of Medicine, completed her training at the Mayo Clinic, and obtained a Master of Science in epidemiology and a Doctor of Science in epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health. She is a member of the American Association for Cancer Research, the American Medical Association, the American College of Epidemiology and the American Society for Clinical Oncology among others.
Dr. Travis was recruited to IU, in part, through the Physician Scientist Initiative. The Physician Scientist Initiative, funded by a $60 million gift from the Lilly Endowment, promotes basic and translational medical science research through the recruitment and training of physician-scientists and investments in biobanking, international programs and research systems.
About the Lawrence H. Einhorn Professor of Cancer Research Philanthropy played a critical role in bringing Dr. Travis to the IU Simon Cancer Center. The chair was funded with a $2 million gift from Farhad Moshiri of Monaco. Nearly $2 million was raised from grateful patients nationally to support her recruitment in addition to Mr. Moshiri’s generosity.