Renowned Breast Cancer Researcher Presents Blass Lecture

Cancer Institute director Peter Emanuel, M.D., with Mina Bissell, Ph.D., following the Blass Lecture in Cancer Genetics.

This Arkansas crystal was presented to Mina Bissell, Ph.D., following her presentation of the Blass Lecture. The crystal’s base was constructed by Robert McGehee, Ph.D., dean of the UAMS Graduate School.

Oct. 10, 2012 | The late philanthropist Elizabeth Weitzenhoffer “Betsy” Blass believed in the power of knowledge and research. She also was passionate about her volunteer involvement at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).

Although Blass died in 2005, her influence lives on in the Elizabeth Weitzenhoffer Blass Lecture in Cancer Genetics, held every two years at the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. The lecture is funded through an endowment established by Blass to provide Arkansas’ scientists with the opportunity to interact with some of the world’s leading genetics researchers.

Held Oct. 4, this year’s guest lecturer was internationally renowned breast cancer researcher Mina Bissell, Ph.D., distinguished scientist in the Life Sciences Division of Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif.

Bissell’s research has changed paradigms by proving that cancer is caused not only by cancer cells, but also by the interaction between cancer cells and the surrounding cellular microenvironment.

She joined the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 1972, became director of cell and molecular biology in 1988, and was appointed director of all of life sciences in 1992. Upon stepping down as the life sciences division director, she was named distinguished scientist.

Bissell has authored more than 345 publications, is a member of seven international scientific boards, and is on the editorial board of a dozen scientific journals. She is the recipient of numerous national and international awards.

Blass was a founding member of the UAMS Foundation Fund Board, serving as chairman during 1983-84. She led the first $1 million fundraising drive, which was followed by chairing the $7 million drive to build Phase I of the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. She also chaired the UAMS “Invest in Life Campaign,” which raised $65 million, exceeding its goal by $2 million.

Blass continued to be a member of the University of Arkansas Foundation Fund Board from 1992 until her death in 2005.

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