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Chemistry Professor Receives Award from Breast Cancer Organization

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    Lynn Guziec

Lynn Guziec is recognized for her work in designing and synthesizing new compounds

Lynn Guziec, assistant professor of chemistry at Southwestern University, received the 2010 “Inspiring Hope” award presented by the Breast Cancer Resource Centers of Texas, a nonprofit organization created 15 years ago. The BCRC’s Certified Patient Navigators are breast cancer survivors whose focus is to assist and empower breast cancer patients, caregivers and families to navigate the healthcare system and the community.  

The award was announced Oct. 13 during a stop of the national “Pink Heals Tour” in Georgetown. The tour is designed to raise awareness about breast cancer and includes a crew of firefighters touring the country in a pink fire truck.  

The Inspiring Hope award was started in 2009 to honor people in Central Texas who are making meaningful contributions toward ending the epidemic of breast cancer. The first recipients of the award were Southwestern Biology Professors Maria Cuevas, Rebecca Sheller and Maria Todd.

“In 1975, a woman had a 1 in 11 chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime and now it’s 1 in 8,” said Marjorie Gallece, director of Williamson County Services and a certified patient navigator for the Breast Cancer Resource Centers of Texas. “The Inspiring Hope Award celebrates the people who are helping reduce this risk and who serve as role models for others.”

Guziec was selected to receive the award this year because of her work in designing and synthesizing new compounds, including anti-cancer compounds. Guziec and her husband, Frank Guziec, professor of chemistry at Southwestern, prepare novel compounds called aziridine benzoquinones. These compounds are prodrugs, a type of drug that only becomes effective after it reacts with enzymes in the body, particularly enzymes produced in high levels by cancer cells. An aziridine benzoquinone called RH1 is now in clinical trials as a potential treatment for several types of childhood cancers that are often resistant to current types of chemotherapy, as well as for cancers of the lung, colon, breast and liver.  

Guziec and her husband also have collaborated with a researcher at the University of Manitoba on synthesizing new compounds called anthrapyrazoles that have the effectiveness of the anti-tumor drug Doxorubicin but with lowered toxicity to the heart. In 2007, the researchers received a provisional patent for the process they developed to synthesize anthrapyrazoles.

Guziec has received two grants from the National Institutes of Health to support her research. One project involves evaluating a new technique that could rapidly predict the anti-cancer activity of new compounds.  The other involves a project that could enable physicians to detect diseases earlier and more easily than current methods. Both projects are being done in conjunction with Jennifer Brodbelt, a professor of chemistry at The University of Texas at Austin.

Guziec also works with Southwestern students who participate in the Welch Summer Research Program, which is funded by the Robert A. Welch Foundation of Houston. This program enables students to spend eight weeks conducting research with Southwestern faculty members. The past two summers, Guziec worked with student Travis Valadez on different ways to prepare selenides, which are the building blocks for a variety of medicinal compounds.