College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

February Science Cafe Focuses on How Cancer Drugs Work

OXFORD, Miss. – The effectiveness and deficiencies of various cancer treatment drugs is the focus for a monthly public science forum organized by the University of Mississippi Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The fourth meeting of the Oxford Science Cafe is set for 6 p.m. Feb. 21 at Lusa Pastry Cafe, 1120 North Lamar Ave. Randy Wadkins, UM associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, will discuss “How Cancer Drugs Work.” Admission is free.

“This talk will describe the mechanisms by which cancer drugs work, as well as why they don’t,” Wadkins said. “For example, why was Lance Armstrong completely cured of testicular cancer while Steve Jobs’ pancreatic cancer proved fatal?”

Wadkins’ 30-minute presentation will explore the historical use of drugs to treat cancer from the nitrogen mustards of the 1940s to the more recent development of Herceptin and Gleevec. He will also discuss apoptosis (the common mechanism by which compounds kill cancer cells) and the role of Henrietta Lacks in the development of cancer drugs. The lecture will be followed by a question-and-answer session.

“We’re planning one event the third Tuesday of each month,” said Marco Cavaglia, associate professor of physics and astronomy. “Tracy Brooks, assistant professor of pharmacology, will discuss ‘Cancer: Where is the Cure?’ on March 20.”

Wadkins holds bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from the UM. Before joining the faculty in 1994, he was a Max Plank Gesellschaft Postdoctoral Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Goettingen, Germany, and a postdoctoral fellow at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. His research focuses on developing improved antitumor drugs of the camptothecin family.

Learn more at Oxford Science Cafes.

For more information, visit the Department of Physics and Astronomy, or call 662-915-5311.