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Clark Atlanta University Researcher Awarded $289,000 Grant from the National Cancer Institute

  • Description:
  • Date: 4/12/2013
  • Author: Larry Calhoun
  • Origin:Clark Atlanta University

Atlanta (April 12, 2013) –  Clark Atlanta University (CAU) announced this week that Dr. Valerie Odero-Marah, associate professor and researcher in the Center for Cancer Research and Therapeutic Development (CCRTD), has received a new grant of $289,494 from the National Cancer Institute to support her research.  Her project, titled “The Role of SNAIL Signaling in Prostate Cancer Metastasis,” will be conducted for the next three years. 

African-Americans have the highest bone density as compared to any other race.  This project will study whether SNAIL protein (a protein found in the human body) is higher in African-American prostate cancer patients compared to other races, and whether these cancer cells expressing SNAIL are more attracted to high bone density found in African-American men, resulting in more aggressive prostate cancer.

Dr. Shafiq Khan, director of CCRTD, said, “We are proud of Dr. Odero-Marah and her achievements noted by this prestigious award.  The funds will help us to continue to develop therapeutic strategies for fighting prostate cancer, bringing us closer to a medical solution.”

Odero-Marah joined CAU in January 2007 as an assistant professor in the department of biology and was promoted to associate professor in 2012.  She received her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Nairobi, Kenya, in 1990. She then obtained her master’s degree in molecular biology at Free University of Brussels in Brussels, Belgium in 1993.  Odero-Marah received her doctoral degree in molecular biology from the University of Iowa in 2001. Her postdoctoral work, under the mentorship of Dr. Leland Chung at Emory University, involved establishing an epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) model for human prostate cancer, a process that occurs during normal embryonic development and epithelial tumor progression.  

Several factors, such as SNAIL transcription factor, are associated with EMT, and contribute to motility, invasion and tumor progression. Odero-Marah said, “Understanding the factors that contribute to EMT and prostate cancer metastasis is crucial for the development of cancer therapies. My laboratory focuses on the role of SNAIL transcription factor in prostate cancer progression.”

For more information about the Center for Cancer Research and Therapeutic Development, visit or call 404-880-6763.