Eugene W Gerner

Research Interests

Dr. Gerner has been a member of the University of Arizona faculty for over 39 years. He is Professor Emeritus of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, with membership in the Department of Radiation Oncology, Arizona Cancer Center and BIO5. Dr. Gerner was founding director of the Cancer Biology Interdisciplinary Program (IDP) and several programs in the Arizona Cancer Center including the Experimental Radiation, Cancer Biology and Gastrointestinal Cancer Programs. His group initially worked on both basic aspects of cancer biology and cancer therapeutics. Over the last 20 years, he has been working to develop novel strategies for prevention and treatment of GI cancers. His group has focused on genetic risk factors, such as the adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) tumor suppressor gene, which are mutated in either germline or somatic colonic epithelial cells and lead to inherited and sporadic forms of colonic neoplasia. Recent work from his lab has shown that genes involved in arachidonic and amino acid metabolism are downstream effectors of APC and the K-RAS oncogene, which is mutated in 25-50% of human colon cancers. In 2008 and along collaborators, he published positive results of a randomized clinical trial evaluating the combination of an inhibitor of polyamine synthesis and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for prevention of metachronous colon adenomas in patients with prior colon polyps. This proof-of-principle trial found that the combination intervention was markedly effective in reducing metachronous adenomas and served to validate the polyamine and inflammatory pathways as targets for treatment of colon cancer risk factors. Dr. Gerner published over 200 research papers and has been recognized nationally and internationally by scientific peers and societies. Awards include the 16th Radiation Research Society Research Award (1988), the featured lectureship at the 2000 Japanese Polyamine Society Meeting, and an Outstanding Achievement Award at the 12th World Congress on Advances in Oncology held in Greece in 2007. He received the 2003 Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in Houston. The University of Arizona recognized him locally with the UA College of Medicine Founders’ Day Award in 2002, the 2007 Salmon Award from the Arizona Cancer Center and the 2010 Innovator of the Year Award. Dr. Gerner has had continuous support for his research since the funding of my first NIH grant in 1975 to the present time. In 2008, he co-founded Cancer Prevention Pharmaceuticals (www.canprevent.com) to commercialize pharmaceuticals and diagnostic methods for cancer prevention and treatment, with the goal of “moving cancer prevention into clinical practice.” CPP is developing novel therapeutic agents, diagnostics, and lifestyle recommendations that make possible the treatment of risk factors for cancer. CPP has developed two new FDA-approved INDs and is participating in six national and international clinical trials.