E-Progress Report of The Hormel Institute



Dear Friends,

Early 2018 has given us at The Hormel Institute the opportunity to participate in a number of education outreach activities and to share our innovative research with our community. We recently heard a story from one of our friends that demonstrates why we are so glad to be a part of education in the Austin, MN area. Her family was driving past The Hormel Institute when her husband asked her about the sculpture out in front, wondering what it was. From the back seat came their sixth grader’s voice, “It’s a protein.”  This student had recently toured The Hormel Institute as part of our annual 6th Grade Day, when we invite every sixth grader in Austin to visit. We were so happy to hear this story, as our hope is always to instill an interest in science and its real world applications in all students we interact with. We are so grateful for your continued support of The Hormel Institute’s innovative cancer research and we are honored to share our work and focus on accelerating answers to cancer with the community.

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

 Institute scientists find inflammation link in colon cancer prevention

Colon cancer could be better treated — or even prevented — thanks to continuing discoveries between inflammation and a common cellular process, established in new research by Dr. Ke Yao of Dr. Zigang Dong’s Cellular and Molecular Biology lab. The exciting new colon cancer research discoveries were published in the journal Oncogene. The research focuses on the role that certain proteins have in causing inflammation related to colon cancer.


Institute scientist makes liver cancer breakthrough

Dr. Ningling Kang and team from The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota published exciting new research in the high impact journal Gastroenterology impacting liver cancer development. The research focuses on the role that specialized cells and enzymes play in tumor growth in the liver. “This discovery is important because we found a critical molecule that creates an environment for cancer spreading in the liver,” said Dr. Kang, head of the Tumor Microenvironment and Metastasis laboratory of The Hormel Institute. https://www.hi.umn.edu/press/institute-scientist-makes-liver-cancer-breakthrough/

Scientists identify new targets to restore damage caused by cancer development

The Hormel Institute’s Drs. Adrian Mansini, Estanislao Peixoto, Suji Jin, Kristen Thelen, and SURE intern researcher Maetzin Cruz-Reyes, along with lab section leader and professor Dr. Sergio Gradilone, published groundbreaking research in the high impact journal Hepatology. “This research is critically important because we discovered the mechanisms underlying the ability of tumor cells to eliminate primary cilia,” said Dr. Gradilone. https://www.hi.umn.edu/press/scientists-identify-new-targets-to-restore-damage-caused-by-cancer-development/

Dr. Zigang Dong participates in China-U.S. Precision Medicine Summit

Dr. Zigang Dong, Executive Director of The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota, travelled to Beijing, China last month to participate in the China-U.S. Precision Medicine Summit on March 29, 2018. The conference was hosted in part by The Embassy of the United States of America in China and U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad gave opening remarks. Dr. Dong was able to meet with Ambassador Branstad as part of his trip, as well as sit on the “Looking Towards a World Without Cancer” panel discussion.

AACR Annual Meeting

Many of our scientists will be attending the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2018 in Chicago this month. The Hormel Institute will have a booth at the conference as we continue to hire to staff our new labs.

Dr. Ke Yao spoke at MC2 meeting

At the January 31, 2018 meeting of the Minnesota Chemovprevention Consortium (MC2) Dr. Ke Yao gave a talk on “RSK2 phosphorylates T-bet to attenuate colon cancer metastasis and growth.” Dr. Frank Ondrey from the Masonic Cancer Center also spoke at the meeting.


 Minnesota Cancer Clinical Trials Network launches!

Minnesotans living in rural areas throughout greater Minnesota will soon have better access to new cancer treatments and enhanced care delivery, thanks to a new state-funded partnership between University of Minnesota and the state’s major health and research systems.


 Dermatology Clinic moves forward

“The scientists at The Hormel Institute University of Minnesota have been well-known as leaders in the study of skin cancer — and now, the institute will play a critical role in the hands-on treatment of those cancers. Plans, in partnership with the University of Minnesota Medical Center for Dermatology and the Hormel Foundation, are to open a dermatology clinic at the institute.”


 Dr. Ilana Chefetz profiled in The Scientist

A profile of new section leader Dr. Ilana Chefetz, head of the Cancer Stem Cells and Necroptosis lab, was published in The Scientist this month as part of their “Scientists to Watch” series:



 Hotel California concert this summer

The Hormel Institute is excited to announce a concert featuring the Eagles tribute band Hotel California “A Salute to the Eagles” this summer. On Tuesday, July 10, The Hormel Institute will host a concert in the Ray Live Learning Center auditorium to benefit Paint the Town Pink – tickets will go on sale May 10.

 Paint the Town Pink raises over $308,000!

Paint the Town Pink exceeded its 7th annual campaign goal by reaching $308,510 in funds for The Hormel Institute’s innovative cancer research! Thank you to everyone who donated or helped to make events a success! To see PTTP events and business displays, please visit:

Bowling for the Battle results

This year Bowling for the Battle again raised a record amount, donating $56,458 to the prostate cancer fund at The Hormel Institute. This year, seed grants made possible with the funds raised by Bowling for the Battle will be given out to section leaders at The Hormel Institute who have ideas for innovative prostate cancer research.


 Science Fair activities

Our scientists really enjoyed serving as judges for 3rd-6th grade students at the IJ Holton STEAM expo in February. Four of our scientists went to the science fair to speak with students about their projects – and The Hormel Institute gave out its own Outstanding Science Research Award to a winner from each grade! In addition, The Hormel Institute welcomed students who participated in the Science Fair Mentoring Project from two of the local elementary schools for a tour and presentations by Bob Ashley and Todd Schuster.

 6th Grade Day at The Hormel Institute

In March we held our annual 6th Grade Day. We invite every 6th grader from Austin Public Schools and Pacelli Catholic Schools to visit The Hormel Institute to learn about our innovative cancer research and see our scientists and technology in action. The students toured our facility, including the Ray Live Learning Center, labs, super computer room, dermatology clinic, and cryo-electron microscope. Students were also able to view our 3D-imaging capabilities and science experiments from Dr. Rebecca Morris, Todd Schuster, and Stephanie Holtorf.

 Dr. Hoeppner reads to students at Pacelli Catholic Schools.

Dr. Luke Hoeppner, head of the Molecular Biology & Translational Cancer lab at The Hormel Institute, read a scientist-themed storybook to preschoolers and talked to them about being a scientist.


“Like” The Hormel Institute on Facebook to get updates in your news feed on The Hormel Institute’s world-renowned cancer research, fundraising events throughout the year, cancer prevention tips and much more. The page’s content is open to the public – you do not need to be a Facebook member/user.

For more information about The Hormel Institute, please contact us at: info@hi.umn.edu
The Hormel Institute Today’s Research, Tomorrow’s Cures