Georgia Cancer Coalition Funds Two Distinguished Cancer Scholars at MUSM


MACON/SAVANNAH – Mercer University President William D. Underwood announced today that the Georgia Cancer Coalition has funded two Distinguished Cancer Scholars for the School of Medicine in Savannah. Distinguished scientists Dr. Shi-Wen Jiang and Dr. Edward Perkins  will join the teaching and research faculty in Mercer’s doctor of medicine program early this winter, with joint research appointments in the Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute at Memorial University Medical Center.

“These outstanding scholars will not only provide leading-edge cancer research to benefit the citizens of Georgia, but will also equip our medical students with this knowledge so they can better serve patients in their practices in the future,” said Underwood. “Mercer is committed to providing the highest quality medical education possible, and having researchers of this caliber in the classroom assures our students will be well equipped for their life-saving profession.”

The Georgia Cancer Coalition is an independent, not-for-profit organization committed to reducing the number of cancer-related deaths in the state. The first of its kind in the nation, the Coalition unites government agencies, academic institutions, civic groups, corporations and health care organizations in a concerted effort to advance scientific research and discovery into the prevention, treatment and cure of cancer in Georgia.

The Coalition’s Distinguished Cancer Clinicians and Scientists program assists Georgia’s research universities, medical schools and nursing programs in recruiting leading cancer clinicians and scientists who are engaged in the most promising areas of cancer research. The Coalition provides funding ranging from $50,000 to $150,000 per year for five years to institutions with Distinguished Scholars with the funds designated to be used to advance the scholars’ research. Mercer will receive a total of $500,000 for Dr. Jiang and $250,000 for Dr. Perkins, with the University agreeing to a dollar-for-dollar match.

“The decision by the Georgia Cancer Coalition to fund these Mercer faculty will serve as a springboard for us to continue to hire the very best faculty to the Savannah campus who can further the university’s research agenda in the biosciences,” said D. Scott Davis, Ph.D., senior vice provost for Research and dean of Graduate Studies at Mercer. “Drs. Jiang and Perkins bring expertise that meshes well with collaborations that are currently being explored with the Anderson Cancer Institute. As we continue to hire faculty in Savannah with highly innovative and relevant research agendas, the Mercer University-Memorial University Medical Center partnership will soon be regarded as one of the premier cancer research initiatives in the Southeast.”

Shi-Wen Jiang, M.D., is currently an associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology of the Mayo Medical School, Rochester, Minn. His research interest concerns the molecular mechanisms of gynecologic diseases, and his laboratory focuses on the epigenetic regulation of gene expression in the preeclamptic placenta and endometrial cancers.

A 1984 graduate of Beijing University School of Medicine, he also holds a master of biomedical science degree from the Graduate School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology, Beijing University. After serving two years at the Beijing Institute for Cancer Research, he moved in 1990 to the United States to be a research fellow in the Endocrine Research Unit of the Department of Internal Medicine at the Mayo Clinic. He advanced to research associate in 1993 and to a professional associate in research in 1996. In 1998, he was appointed an assistant professor at Mayo Medical School and, in 2004, advanced to associate professor. 

Jiang has been serving as principal investigator on several research grants from NIH and private foundations. Jiang has received a number of academic honors and awards, including the Fraternal Order of Eagles Award in 2005 from the Women’s Cancer Program of Mayo Cancer Center, the Harold W. Siebens Research Fellow of 1999 from the Molecular Medicine Program, Mayo Clinic; the American College of Cardiology Young Investigator Award and the American Federation for Clinical Research Award in 1996. His work has been published in numerous peer reviewed scientific journals, with the latest articles published in Gynecologic Oncology, Cancer Research and Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.

Edward L. Perkins, Ph.D., is assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Duluth Medical Campus, and serves as the Duluth Clinic Chair of Molecular Medicine. His laboratory focuses on elucidating the mechanisms by which cells maintain stable genomes, in search of the changes in genome stability that are hallmarks of many inherited disorders, including the multistage process leading to cancer.  An additional focus of his laboratory is directed towards the synthesis and engineering of human artificial chromosomes for delivery of anti-tumor factors and other gene therapy applications.

After receiving bachelor’s degrees in biology and psychology in 1982 from Purdue University in Indiana, he earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry at Wayne State University in Michigan in 1988. He was a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow in the Cellular and Genetic Toxicology Branch at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS/NIH) in 1989. He continued his work at NIEHS in the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics as a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow, 1990-1992, and NIH Senior Staff Fellow, 1993-1997.

After completing his work at NIH, Perkins served three years as senior scientist of Iconix Pharmaceuticals, Mountain View, Calif. In 2000, he was appointed the director of Chromosome Engineering, Chromos Molecular Systems, Vancouver, British Columbia. In 2002, he joined the University of Minnesota School of Medicine-Medical School Duluth faculty as an assistant professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and as an adjunct assistant professor of Chemistry.  Perkins is a member of the University of Minnesota’s Cancer Center and Graduate Toxicology Program.

Perkins is currently primary investigator on two research grants, co-primary investigator on a third, and co-investigatorprimary investigator on two others. His most recent articles have been published in BMC Cell Biology, Nucleic Acids Research and Stem Cells.

“We are delighted that Drs. Jiang and Perkins will be joining the Mercer faculty on the Savannah campus,” said Robert Hash, M.D., senior associate dean, School of Medicine, Savannah Campus. “Their training, research and expertise in their respective disciplines will enhance Mercer’s ability to provide a high quality foundational education for medical students in the basic medical sciences in preparation for clinical medicine. They will be tremendous assets for the existing and newly evolving research agendas in Savannah, and will undoubtedly serve as helpful colleagues, mentors and role models for the other basic science and clinical faculty that will be joining us here. The addition of these outstanding medical scientists is a big step forward in our quest to develop a robust research and educational program in Savannah.”

Additional Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scholars at Memorial University Medical Center affiliated with Mercer School of Medicine in Savannah include:

Steven T. Brower, M.D., professor and chairman, Department of Surgery;
William Hoskins, M.D., former director of the Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute, and senior vice president, Oncology and Research;
John Risinger, Ph.D., associate member, Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute, Department Laboratory Oncology Research, and associate professor, Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Division of Basic Medical Science, Mercer University School of Medicine, Savannah Campus;
Jeff Boyd, Ph.D., director, Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute, vice president, Oncology and Research, and professor, Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Surgery, Internal Medicine, and Division of Basic Medical Science, Mercer University School of Medicine, Savannah Campus;
Trib Vats, M.D., chairman, Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Program, Backus Children’s Hospital, and professor, Department of Pediatrics, Mercer University School of Medicine, Savannah Campus;
Dominique Broccoli, Ph.D., member, Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute, Department of Laboratory Oncology Research, and professor, Departments of Surgery, Internal Medicine, and Division of Basic Medical Science, Mercer University School of Medicine, Savannah Campus.

About Mercer University School of Medicine:

Celebrating its 25th year, Mercer University’s School of Medicine was established in 1982 to educate physicians and health professionals to meet the primary care and health care needs of rural and medically underserved areas of Georgia. The School only accepts Georgia residents into its medical degree program. Students entering Mercer University School of Medicine will be graduated from a school that utilizes a problem-based medical education program that provides early patient care experiences. Such an academic environment fosters the early development of clinical problem-solving and instills in each student an awareness of the place of the basic medical sciences in medical practice. In June 2007, the University announced it would expand its two-year clinical program at Memorial University Medical Center into a second full, four-year doctor of medicine program by fall 2008. The School also offers master’s degrees in public health, family therapy, family services and nurse anesthesia.

About Mercer University:

Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University has 7,200 students; 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies; major campuses in Macon and Atlanta; four regional academic centers across the state; a university press; two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center and the Medical Center of Central Georgia; educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta; an engineering research center in Warner Robins; a performing arts center in Macon; and a NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit

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