In December, the College of Medicine announced the successful recruitment of Marcelo “Bento” Soares as the next senior associate dean for research and head of the Department of Cancer Biology and Pharmacology at UICOMP. Dr. Soares chose to come to Peoria because he recognized an opportunity. He saw state-of-the-art research laboratories, existing expertise in cancer and neuroscience research, strong clinical partners and a community that works together. He saw a unique opportunity to build a focused, world-class research enterprise.
Dr. Soares brings nearly three and a half decades of research work in genomics, genetics and cancer biology. He is world-renowned for his contributions to the Human Genome Project, and in particular, for his work in the development of publicly available databases of expressed sequence tags, which are instrumental in gene discovery and gene sequence determination.
A professor at Northwestern University, he was also director of the Cancer Biology and Epigenomics Program at the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute and scientific director of the Falk Brain Tumor Center at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Over the last 15 years, Dr. Soares has dedicated his expertise in genetics and genomics to cancer research, including chondrosarcoma, osteosarcoma, breast cancer, prostate cancer and most especially, pediatric brain tumors. His broad experience and collaborative nature will bring together researchers from different backgrounds, creating synergies that will grow research in Peoria. I am truly delighted to have him join our leadership team.
Research is an essential part of UICOMP. Most importantly, it’s an opportunity to discover new treatment options for our patients. However, research also assists us in training young physicians, recruiting talented clinicians and growing Peoria’s reputation as a destination for high-quality, cutting-edge patient care. UICOMP has chosen to focus its basic science research programs on some of the most important health issues facing us today. We are researching various forms of cancer, including the very deadly and fast-moving brain and pancreatic cancers, Alzheimer’s disease and stroke. We are also actively involved in simulation, educational and health outcomes research.
As head of the Department of Cancer Biology and Pharmacology, Dr. Soares will transfer his own research program to UICOMP’s Cancer Research Center. His current work is aimed at identifying the molecular mechanisms underlying development of pediatric brain tumors, the study of a mouse model of pediatric neuroectodermal tumors, and the impact of diet on prostate cancer development and progression. In addition to his research, Dr. Soares has a strong track record as a successful faculty mentor. He will be able to nurture and develop our existing faculty, as well as effectively recruit additional bright and innovative researchers to join the Cancer Research Programs at UICOMP.
Dr. Soares’ role at UICOMP will extend far beyond cancer and the research laboratory. He is widely recognized for his collaborative nature and desire to bring together different disciplines and backgrounds to share thoughts and conceive truly unique and valuable research ideas. Even before accepting the position, he met with representatives from OSF, UnityPoint Health – Methodist|Proctor, Illinois CancerCare and Bradley University. In today’s challenging grant environment, success will be largely dependent on building collaborative research partnerships—an area where I believe Dr. Soares will excel.
Our community vigorously supported the cancer research building at UICOMP, and we all share a desire to make discoveries that will contribute to cures for cancer. Genetics and therapies based on genetics will play a key role in the discoveries of the future. We are fortunate to have recruited Dr. Soares to UICOMP. Please join me in welcoming him. iBi