This year proved to be one of success and growth for the Cancer Center at Illinois (CCIL). Below you’ll find 10 of the year’s biggest moments in research, education, and community engagement, meet our new members, and have the chance to dive deeper into our efforts. The CCIL is excited for 2024 and the opportunity to continue transforming how cancer is detected, diagnosed, and treated.

Major Moments

A Milestone in Infrared Microscope Development

CCIL Director Rohit Bhargava’s Chemical Imaging and Structures Laboratory has developed a novel infrared microscopy system that dramatically improves the speed and quality of chemical imaging. The team’s microscope holds the potential to shift the landscape of current pathology, opening new frontiers in the study and diagnosis of diseases such as cancer.

Shapiro and Hergenrother

A Step Toward Breast Cancer Clinical Trials

A compound developed by CCIL researchers will undergo pre-clinical drug development, with the goal of advancing the molecule to human clinical trials in late-stage metastatic breast cancer patients by 2025.

BEAT Cancer Kickoff

BEAT Cancer Research Initiative Kicks Off

The CCIL and OSF HealthCare held a kickoff reception to announce the launch of the Breakthrough Engineering and Advanced Treatment (BEAT) of Cancer Research Initiative – a new strategic collaboration to transform cancer care delivery across OSF’s statewide oncology network.

researchstart group photo 2023

CCIL Hosts ResearcHStart Symposium

Six students from Central Illinois and their peers from the Chicago area presented projects at a researcHStart symposium in August.  ResearcHStart is an intensive cancer research experience and partnership between the University of Chicago, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Illinois Chicago, Northwestern University, and Rush University.

Clinical Trial Shows Promise for Dogs with Aggressive Malignant Melanoma

Veterinary comparative oncology researchers from the CCIL are exploring a new immunotherapy option for patients with aggressive malignant melanoma. The technology used in this clinical trial has now been approved to start phase one human clinical trials.

Dozens Attend Inaugural Survivor Summit

The CCIL’s Cancer Research Advocacy Group and CCIL hosted the inaugural Survivor Summit in June 2023. The event introduced people to cancer-related resources, educated them on advancements in care and diagnosis, and allowed them to network with others who know what it’s like to live through a cancer diagnosis.

Fain and Hergenrother groupshot

Drug Shows Promise in Human Clinical Trials

A phase I clinical trial of PAC-1, a drug that spurs programmed cell death in cancer cells, found only minor side effects in patients with end-stage cancers. The drug was first identified and developed as an anti-cancer agent by CCIL scientists.

From the Lab to the Operating Room

Researchers from the CCIL traveled the rewarding journey from benchtop to the operating room, observing their novel technology in the hands of surgeons treating lung cancer patients. The team developed an improved endoscopic imaging system that achieves a 60% improvement upon existing FDA-approved endoscopic systems.

‘Like Peanut Butter and Chocolate’

Researchers from CCIL Program Leader Brian Cunningham’s lab in collaboration with researchers at Washington University have demonstrated a new capability to detect and count individual biomolecules at low concentrations. This technology may significantly improve the efficacy of current cancer detection and measurement methods. 

Novel Compound May Block Certain Forms of Aggressive Cancer

CCIL researchers Benita Katzenellenbogen and John Katzenellenbogen have developed a new compound with efficacy in suppressing tumor initiation, progression, and metastasis of several types of breast cancer.

New CCIL Members in 2023

Rachel Adler
Associate Professor, School of Information Sciences

Yun-Sheng Chen
Assistant Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering

Keith Jarosinski
Associate Professor, Pathobiology

Susan Leggett<br />
Assistant Professor, Bioengineering

Susan Leggett
Assistant Professor, Bioengineering

Huanyu Qiao
Associate Professor, Comparative Biosciences

Michael Robben
Assistant Professor,
Animal Sciences

Andrew Steelman
Associate Professor, Animal Sciences

Dive Deeper

Read the Fall 2023 edition of Innovation Insider

Take a look at the CCIL’s efforts to elevate cancer research. Innovation Insider dives deeper into the CCIL’s extensive work to transform cancer detection and therapies, and provides an update on the planned Cancer Center Research and Innovation Building.

Innovation Insider Cover