PULLMAN, Wash. — When Gary Meadows begins discussing his career in cancer research and
prevention, it is obvious that his work has led him to consider many aspects of this dreaded disease that
takes the lives of over a million Americans each year. A Washington State University pharmacy professor,
Meadows was recently named director of the WSU Cancer Prevention and Research Center, supported by
the Dorothy Otto Kennedy Endowment Fund.
As one who has lost many relatives to cancer, Meadows has spent a large part of his research career
studying melanoma, a virulent type of skin cancer. “Melanoma is the most rapidly increasing cancer in our
society,” Meadows notes. Although research in this area is active and new approaches to control this
disease are being made, “It has no real cure, and once it invades, it becomes highly deadly.”
Meadows studies the effects of nutrients and alcohol on cancer and the possible links to cancer
invasion and metastasis (spread). He has especially looked at amino acids, the building blocks of proteins,
and what effects they have on the metastasis of cancerous cells to other parts of the body in victims of
melanoma, and more recently, in prostate cancer victims.
Currently, he is looking at how nutrients modify the signals that cancer cells depend on for
proliferation and survival. “We’ve found that specifically restricting tyrosine and phenylalanine impacts
proliferation and invasion and that a pathway that programs the cell to die is stimulated. This process is
called apoptosis.”
Meadow’s lab is using nutrition modulation, the response of tumors to nutrients, as a tool to
understand cell signalling mechanisms. “This may lead to development of more specific therapies to target
signalling pathways, so as to inhibit growth and metastasis of cancer cells. Most exciting,” Meadows says,
“is that apoptosis is stimulated in tumor cells by tyrosine and phenylalanine but not in normal cells.”
These are just a few of the research directions Meadows will be pursuing as the director of the CPRC,
which was established to function as the focal point for cancer research at WSU and in Eastern Washington.
Other goals the new director plans to pursue are stimulating collaborative research efforts among cancer
researchers at WSU, raising awareness about cancer in Eastern Washington, and joining with others in
developing a major education initiative about healthy lifestyles to decrease the risk of cancer and inhibit
cancer progression.
Significant cancer research is being conducted also by center scientists in other WSU colleges,
departments and programs, including Biochemistry, Microbiology, Food Sciences and Human Nutrition,
Cell Biology, Zoology, Veterinary Medicine, The Institute of Biochemistry, The Health Research and
Education Center in Spokane, and WSU Tri-Cities.
Meadows, who joined the College of Pharmacy in 1976, is the former chair of the Department of
Pharmaceutical Sciences. He was named the Dorothy O. Kennedy Endowed Professor in the college earlier
this year. His research has attracted significant awards, totaling more than $6 million from such prestigious
organizations as the National Institute for Health and various private foundations. As a peer reviewer,
Meadows has participated in work for 29 organizations, and currently is involved as a reviewer for the U.S.
Army Medical Research and the American Institute for Cancer Research. He has published 60 refereed
original articles.
Dorothy Otto Kennedy was a 1916 graduate of the College of Pharmacy who died on April 18 at the
age of 102. She and her family established the distinguished professorship in pharmacy, as well as an
endowed scholarship and a graduate student support endowment for the pharmacology/toxicology