Breakthrough Leader: Lorne Hofseth
Pharmacy professor researches the role of inflammation in colorectal cancer
By Craig Brandhorst, email@example.com, 803-777-3681
When the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy and the Center for Colon Cancer Research recruited Lorne Hofseth as one of the center’s first faculty hires in 2004, they knew they had a rising star on their hands.
Hofseth, who came to South Carolina after four years at the Laboratory of Human Carcinogenesis at the National Cancer Institute in Maryland, quickly established his research lab to study the role of inflammation in colorectal cancer. During his 16-year career at the university, Hofseth has garnered the College of Pharmacy’s top teaching award in 2014; has chaired the college’s tenure and promotion committee and served as a standing member of an NIH study section; and has generated more than 90 peer-reviewed articles and more than $7 million in extramural funding.
His leadership skills and national reputation are now being leveraged to lead the Center for Colon Cancer Research into the next generation with a focus on colorectal cancer in young adults.
Even before accepting the position as interim director, Dr. Hofseth had already begun to form an interdisciplinary team of researchers to synergize their skills around the critically important problem of early onset colorectal cancer.
Frank Berger, former director of the Center for Colon Cancer Research
From 2012 to 2018, Hofseth was director of the College of Pharmacy’s graduate program, helping to streamline the curriculum and nearly doubling the number of graduate students. Then, when distinguished professor emeritus of biology Frank Berger stepped down as director of the Center for Colon Cancer Research, Hofseth stepped up again — and into some very big shoes.
After offering his services as interim director in 2018, he transitioned to director of the center in 2018.
“Even before accepting the position as interim director, Dr. Hofseth had already begun to form an interdisciplinary team of researchers to synergize their skills around the critically important problem of early onset colorectal cancer,” says Berger, who now serves as research and outreach director for the Colon Cancer Prevention Network.
Now Hofseth and colleague Phil Buckhaults, an associate professor in the College of Pharmacy, are spearheading the pursuit of a large NIH Program Project Grant to study early onset colorectal cancer.
The multidisciplinary research team, which includes faculty from the College of Pharmacy, the Arnold School of Public Health, the School of Medicine, the biological sciences department and the College of Engineering and Computing, will explore the causes and increasing vulnerability of colorectal cancer in young people.
“The group is well on its way to developing a Program Project Grant application to the NIH, with themes that include early life environmental exposures, the microbiome, stem cells and the accumulation of mutational burdens as collectively driving colorectal cancer at younger ages,” says Berger.
Hofseth’s team plans to submit its application to NIH in 2020. It will be the first such grant submitted by CCCR and is a bold attempt to take the center to the next level.
“Without Lorne’s constant and effective leadership skills, this team of investigators would not have come together and be on this path of a PPG submission,” says Kim Creek, chair of the Drug Discovery and Biomedical Sciences and associate dean for research at the College of Pharmacy.
Creek, who was one of Hofseth’s mentors when he arrived at South Carolina in 2004, has tracked his colleague’s ascent and in 2019, along with Berger, nominated him for the Office of Research’s Breakthrough Leadership in Research award. “I have followed with interest Lorne’s entire academic career and watched him blossom as both a scientist and a research leader,” Creek says.
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