E-Progress Report of The Hormel Institute


Dear Friends-

This summer The Hormel Institute celebrates its 75th anniversary. Since 1942 The Hormel Institute has grown from one lab in a converted horse stable on the Jay C. Hormel family estate, to a one story building in our current location in 1960, then transforming/tripling in size in 2008 and doubling again in 2016 and the addition of the “Ray Live Learning Center” named after Gary and Pat Ray, generous benefactors (and Gary Ray as chair of The Hormel Foundation). The Hormel Institute’s 42 labs are filling up: We currently have 15 cancer research sections, with another three new sections/faculty joining this summer, and active recruiting ongoing. The Ray Live Learning Center has been the site of four international cancer research conferences, weekly internal seminars, and various community and educational events since opening a year ago.  Our CryoEM team is working to integrate state-of-the-art CryoEM technology into the wider research of The Hormel Institute.

The legacy of The Hormel Institute was started by Jay C Hormel but truly belongs to all who have worked here throughout the institute’s history, Hormel Foods’ company whose success provides distribution funds to The Hormel Foundation as well as all who have supported research for 75 years. This is a milestone we can all celebrate. As we look to the future, we know through The Hormel Institute’s research and its discoveries, continued progress will improve human health worldwide.

We are so proud of and thankful for our history – and are excited for what the future brings: continued discoveries to accelerate cancer research discoveries and improve human health, sustained growth to benefit the economy of our community, state and nation, and collaborations to benefit the world around us.

You can read more about The Hormel Institute’s last 75 years here: http://www.austindailyherald.com/2017/06/institute-celebrates-75-years/

In friendship,

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


Institute Scientist Publishes a Breakthrough for Leukemia Therapy
Dr. Shujun Liu, head of the Cancer Epigenetics and Experiemntal Therapeutics section, recently published groundbreaking leukemia research discoveries in Clinical Cancer Research, a leading oncology journal, along with other researchers from Mayo Clinic and Ohio State University. Dr. Liu and his team investigated the role of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) in DNA methylation abnormalities and characterized the hypomethylating activities of RTK inhibitors in leukemia in the article, “Inactivation of receptor tyrosine kinases reverts aberrant DNA methylation in acute myeloid leukemia.” Read more here: https://www.hi.umn.edu/press/institutes-research-identifies-a-breakthrough-for-leukemia-therapy/

Institute Research Identifies a Breakthrough in Cancer Drug Resistance
The Hormel Institute’s Dr. Shujun Liu, head of the Cancer Epigenetics and Experimental Therapeutics section, and other researchers from Mayo Clinic and SiChuan University, had groundbreaking research highlighted in PLOS in June. The article “Elevated Cellular PD1/PD-L1 Expression Confers Acquired Resistance to Cisplatin in Small Cell Lung Cancer Cells,” was selected to be included in the PLOS Editor’s Picks collection on Cancer Immunotherapy. Read more here: https://www.hi.umn.edu/press/institutes-research-identifies-a-breakthrough-in-cancer-drug-resistance/

5th Hormel Institute International Cancer Research Conference
Scientists from across the country came to The Hormel Institute for the 5th Hormel Institute International Cancer Research Conference June 19-20. The meeting brought together researchers in the field of cancer prevention and control to focus on fundamental cancer research, molecular mechanisms of tumor development, tumor stem cells, tumor therapeutic and preventative mechanisms, and achievements in tumor prevention and therapy.

Paint the Town Pink Grants
Eight $25,000 grants to fund innovative research were announced to some of the cancer research professors of The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota. These seed grants to fund innovative research projects have been distributed for a few years since PTTP started in 2011 with a $23,000 fundraiser “Paint the Rink Pink” founded by the Austin Bruins. The Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau expanded the initiative the following year, and now nearly $1.2 million has been raised for cancer research. Read more here: https://www.hi.umn.edu/press/200000-in-paint-the-town-pink-grants-distributed/

Upcoming China Conference
Members of The Hormel Institute’s faculty and staff will travel to Zhengzhou, China in September to attend The 8th China – U.S. Forum on Frontiers of Cancer Research and The 5th Zhengzhou International Cancer Forum. This cancer conference is organized in part by The Hormel Institute’s labs in China, The China-US (Henan) Hormel Cancer Institute.


Three new labs to be added to The Hormel Institute
Three new scientists will be joining The Hormel Institute in July and August. Dr. George Aslanidi, Associate Professor, will be heading the Molecular Bioengineering and Cancer Vaccine lab. Dr. Rendong Yang, Assistant Professor, will be heading the Computational Cancer Genomics lab. And Dr. Ilana Chefetz Menaker, Assistant Professor, will be heading the Cancer Stem cells and Cell Programmed Necrosis (Necroptosis) lab.

Science Writer joins team
Dr. Tia Rai joined The Hormel Institute as a Research Assistant Professor with an expertise in scientific writing. Tia is a PhD scientist with experience in science communication. She is currently assisting researchers with journal submissions, npj Precision Oncology, and some grant writing. She received her PhD in Microbiology & Immunology from University of Illinois in Chicago and did her post-doctoral work at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Advancing Clinical Trials
The Hormel Institute is getting closer to using our new translational research wing. Meetings between The Hormel Institute, Mayo Clinic, and UMN’s Masonic Cancer Center have been taking place, discussing the State of Minnesota’s bonding bill, which aims to provide greater access to clinical trials to rural Minnesota residents.


Congratulations to Mr. Gary J. Ray, Chair of The Hormel Foundation
Gary J. Ray was selected as one of the 2017 “Pillars of the City” recognizing his outstanding contributions and leadership in Austin, MN. The 2017 Pillars of the City were unveiled Tuesday, July 4 during the Freedom Fest celebrations. Ray has been instrumental in the growth and success of The Hormel Institute through his leadership of The Hormel Foundation and significant leadership during his career at Hormel Foods Corporation. Read more at: http://www.austindailyherald.com/2017/07/new-pillars-of-the-city-are-holton-ray-and-morse/

Ryan Gordon Tournament
The Ryan Gordon Memorial Golf Tournament held in Adams raised $10,000 for cancer research this year for The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota. The annual tournament is held in Adams in tribute to Ryan who died from stomach cancer in 2011. The tournament has raised $35,000 since it started in 2013. See more here: http://www.austindailyherald.com/2017/07/tourney-raises-10k-for-institute/

Paint the Town Pink – Pink at the Pump
Keep your eye out for a new Paint the Town Pink fundraiser later this year – Pink at the Pump will be organized by local ethanol groups. We are excited to see this new fundraiser! Please contact Kathi Finley, gopttp@gmail.com, if you have ideas for future PTTP fundraisers.


Summer Open Houses
Free Tours – see the new expansion, the CryoEM, world’s most powerful microscope lab and Ray Live Learning Center. No registration required. We hope to see you there!
Friday, July 28, 2-4 pm
Saturday, July 29, 11 am-1 pm

SURE Interns
Our SURE interns are here for the summer. Each summer we welcome 10 students, usually entering their junior or senior year of college, to The Hormel Institute for a paid internship. The students are able to work in a lab with scientists, giving real-world experience for students interested in pursuing careers in science. This year’s interns include Anne Weston, Seth Richard, Jennyfer Register, Mara Overby, Dianna Huisman, Nick Hanson, Chris Dong, Nodir Boymatov, Abbygail Coyle, and Kiersten Monson.

Institute Intern wins award from Hamline University
Sela Fadness, a SURE Intern in 2015 and 2016, has returned again this summer to The Hormel Institute as an intern in Dr. Hinchcliffe’s lab, funded by a Paint the Town Pink grant. Sela was recently awarded the Allan T. H. Bluhm Memorial Award from Hamline University for her community and volunteer work. James C. Hormel, awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Hamline University, said “We can all be proud of Sela Fadness and her achievements in her work, her studies, and her community activities” See Austin Living July/August 2017 Issue for more.

The Open Road – Autobiography of George A. Hormel
Edited by Thomas D. Hormel & James C. Hormel
This newly edited autobiography tells the amazing story, in his own words, of George A. Hormel’s journey from a small boy to the leader of an innovative and powerful company – now known as Hormel Foods. George A. Hormel’s visionary business ideas emphasized quality, innovation, and social conscience – values that are evident on each page of this engaging memoir. George’s son Jay C. Hormel founded The Hormel Institute in 1942.


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