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Charles Chalfant named program leader of Cancer Cell Signaling

Chalfant is a scientist researching lipid biology, cell signaling and inflammation

Massey researcher Charles Chalfant, Ph.D., has been appointed as the co-leader of the Cancer Cell Signaling (CCS) research program at VCU Massey Cancer Center. He will serve in this capacity alongside Andrew C. Larner, M.D., Ph.D., who has also co-led the program with Sarah Spiegel, Ph.D., since its inception in 2011.

As co-leader of CCS, Chalfant will serve on the cancer center’s senior leadership team and will help Massey advance its scientific goals and objectives. He will also help develop and guide the strategic direction of the CCS program, focusing on opportunities to grow its membership, foster transdisciplinary collaborations among its members, increase its cancer-focused grant funding and facilitate translational research.

Massey’s CCS program consists of a multidisciplinary group of 22 investigators from eight academic departments at the VCU School of Medicine, School of Dentistry and College of Humanities and Sciences. These researchers share a common interest in examining the cellular and molecular signaling events that contribute to cancer development and progression, with the ultimate goal of identifying potential therapeutic strategies and moving them into preclinical testing.

“I am pleased to appoint Dr. Chalfant to this important Massey leadership role,” said Gordon D. Ginder, M.D., director of VCU Massey Cancer Center. “His scientific contributions, dedication to the cancer center and fresh perspective well position him to help advance our cancer cell signaling research.”

“I am honored to serve as co-leader of the Cancer Cell Signaling program at Massey Cancer Center,” said Chalfant. “In keeping with the goals of my predecessor, Dr. Sarah Spiegel, and of my co-Leader, Dr. Andrew Larner, I look forward to the opportunity to foster additional intra- and inter-programmatic collaborations, champion future recruitments in this area and act as ‘the glue’ for new multidisciplinary grants.”

Chalfant holds the Paul M. Corman, M.D., Chair in Cancer Research at Massey and has been a member of the CCS program since 2003. He is the vice chair of and a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the VCU School of Medicine and the scientific and executive director of the VCU Lipidomics/Metabolomics Core. Additionally, he is the deputy director of the VCU Johnson Center for Critical Care and Pulmonary Research and a GS15 Research Career Scientist in the Veterans Administration.

A central focus of Chalfant’s research has been studying mechanisms of cell signaling associated with both bioactive lipids and RNA splicing in the formation and maintenance of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) tumors. His RNA splicing work has also been extended to breast cancer. In addition to his cancer research, Chalfant is examining the role of bioactive lipids in acute and chronic inflammation observed in critical care disorders such as preeclampsia, sepsis, trauma, lung injury, asthma and cardiac arrest. His laboratory has identified lipid-based “fingerprints” of various critical care diseases that can allow physicians to treat and mitigate illnesses prior to their clinical manifestation. He and his team are working to develop novel and portable technologies that rapidly analyze these “fingerprints” in the clinic and at the hospital bedside.

Publishing more than 100 research articles in numerous peer-reviewed scientific journals, Chalfant has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Veterans Administration since 1998. He also served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Lipid Research and the Journal of Biological Chemistry and was a formal member of both the Cancer and Molecular Pathobiology Study Section of the NIH and the Oncology A Study Section of the Veterans Administration. Currently, Chalfant serves as a member and alternate chair of the NIH F09A Fellowships Oncology Study Section. In addition, he is a recipient of the 2011 Avanti Young Investigator Award for Lipid Research from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the Research Career Scientist Award from the Veterans Administration.

Chalfant received a B.S. in biology from the University of Tampa and a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of South Florida College of Medicine. He completed his post-doctoral training at Duke University Medical Center and at the Medical University of South Carolina. He was a research assistant professor at the Medical University of South Carolina before joining Virginia Commonwealth University in 2003. 

Written by: Jenny Owen

Posted on: March 22, 2017