Supercomputers: Accelerating cancer research discoveries

The Hormel Institute’s skin cancer research is featured on this month’s cover of Cancer Prevention Research, one of the world’s top journals. A computer image depicts a compound from the milk thistle plant directly binding with and inhibiting a protein related to melanoma, the most fatal form of skin cancer. Supercomputing technology at The Hormel Institute played a major role in this cutting-edge research. The Institute’s International Center of Research Technology (ICRT) is accelerating these kinds of discoveries, and we continue to work with manufacturers of technology to make these cancer-fighting tools even better. What would take humans months, years or a lifetime to calculate, now can be done by supercomputers in days or weeks. This enables researchers to spend their time and funding much more effectively and efficiently. Today’s research will lead to tomorrow’s cures.

In friendship,

Zigang Dong, M.D., Dr. P.H.
Executive Director


Institute discovers milk thistle compound inhibits melanoma growth

A team of researchers led by Dr. Zigang Dong, Executive Director of The Hormel Institute and leader of its Cellular & Molecular Biology section, have discovered that an anticancer agent in milk thistle significantly inhibits the growth of melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer afflicting millions of people worldwide. This breakthrough research — reported on by the Minneapolis Star Tribune — was featured on the cover of the May 2013 edition of Cancer Prevention Research, one of the world’s leading scientific journals. The team’s research found that silybin, a compound in milk thistle, weakened melanoma growth. For more information, read “Institute finds skin cancer inhibitor in milk thistle.”

Section leader Morris collaborates at international conferences

Dr. Rebecca Morris, a top skin cancer researcher who leads the Stem Cells & Cancer research section at The Hormel Institute, recently returned from participating in three international conferences overseas related to cutaneous (skin) biology. She attended the Conference on Genetics in Dermatology in Dundee, Scotland, from May 5-7, followed by the International Investigative Dermatology Conference from May 8-11 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Dr. Morris then traveled to Italy, outside of Pisa, to attend the Gordon Research Conference on Epithelial Differentiation and Keratinization from May 12-17. Participation in these conferences, each on different aspects of cutaneous biology, affects The Hormel Institute’s internationalization goals by bringing the results of her novel research on adult skin stem cells and skin cancer to colleagues from around the world. She had face-to-face meetings with her collaborators from abroad, and nurtured new collaborations. Dr. Morris returned with many new ideas for research and technology to share with colleagues at the Institute and University of Minnesota.


AgStar completes $30,000 pledge, promotes Institute’s work

AgStar Fund for Rural America in May made the final $10,000 donation of a three-year, $30,000 pledge in support of The Hormel Institute’s world-renowned cancer research. John Monson, Chair of the AgStar Fund and Vice President for AgStar Financial Services, recently discussed AgStar’s partnership with The Hormel Institute and what its cancer research focused on natural compounds found in foods can mean to farmers. Listen to the interview here.


High school students raise funding for Institute’s breast cancer research

High school students are continuing to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer. In May, the Austin High School Youth Leadership Club put on its 3rd annual “Strides for a Cure” 5K run/walk event in Austin. More than 120 people of all ages participated in the event. Proceeds each year are donated to support The Hormel Institute’s world-renowned breast cancer research. While this year’s total has not yet been announced, “Strides” has donated $5,000 overall the past two years. For more information, visit the “AHS club’s 3rd annual ‘Strides’ fights breast cancer.”


During the summer, do you stock up on sunscreen, sunglasses, hats and cover-ups to protect your skin from the sun? Add peaches to that list. Peaches, plums and nectarines offer an abundance of nutrients naturally designed to keep skin healthy. Vitamin C, beta-carotene and antioxidants work beneath the surface to protect and rejuvenate skin from the harmful damage of ultraviolet rays. Be sure to apply the sunscreen and also stop by the produce aisle to incorporate peaches into your favorite dishes. Here are a few of my favorites:

Healthy Beverage: Click here for a Quinoa Peach Salad recipe.

Healthy Beverage – Click here for a Peachy Peach Smoothie recipe.

Healthy Dessert – Click here for a Grilled Peaches recipe.

Recipes have been provided by Jen Haugen, Registered Dietitian, at Hy-Vee supermarket of Austin, Minnesota. Jen works with one goal in mind: To help customers live out the Hy-Vee mission statement of “making lives easier, healthier, happier.”