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Maria Cekanova MS, RNDr, PhD
Research Assistant Professor
Small Animal Clinical Sciences

Research Interest

  • Evaluation of new fluorescent-labeled optical imaging agent, Fluorocoxib A, for detection of COX-2-expressing tumors (transitional cell carcinoma, head and neck carcinomas, colorectal carcinomas and others) in dogs and cats.
  • Investigation of a novel application of neutron imaging techniques in biology with focus on cancer detection and forensic applications in law enforcement.
  • Isolation and characterization of canine and feline primary cancer cell lines
  • Studying the mechanisms of cancer cell growth inhibition of novel therapeutic drugs, e.g. Masitinib (AB Sciences); AD198 (UT Memphis); NSAIDs (VU Nashville) in canine and feline cancers in vitro and in vivo
  • Isolation and characterization of autologous canine mesenchymal stem cells for treatments of e.g. osteoarthritis (new service at SACS, link to connect to both the rehab website and the CARES website) and assessment of their role in cancer.

Education

  • Ph.D. in Genetics, Pavol Josef Safarik University in Kosice, Slovakia 2000-2005
  • RNDr. in Biology, P.J. Safarik University in Kosice, Slovakia 2000-2002
  • M.S. in Biology and Chemistry with Honor, P.J. Safarik University in Kosice, Slovakia 1994-1999

Background

I was born in Slovakia and grew up in a small town - Lipany that celebrated 700th anniversary of its first written document from 1312 this year. I always loved animals and nature around me, so I ended up study two my favorite majors Biology and Chemistry at the University of Pavol Josef Safarik in Kosice in Slovakia. After finishing the university, I got accepted to the same UPJS University to start my journey of research with focus on inflammation and cancer. Year after, in 2000, I got accepted as a Research Assistant at the University of Tennessee, Medical Center at the Department of OB/GYN in Knoxville and since 2003 I have been working at the UT College of Veterinary Medicine. I accomplished my PhD study and my postdoctoral training at the Department of Pathobiology and since 2009 I joint Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences as Research Assistant Professor and started my own independent research in cancer and stem cell fields. My favorite activities outside work are hiking, biking, swimming, travelling to explore new places, eating good food and gardening.

Employment

  • 2009 – present, Research Assistant Professor, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • 2005 – 2009, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • 2003 – 2005, Research Assistant, Department of Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • 2000 – 2003, Research Assistant, Department of OB/GYN, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • 1999 - 2004, Scientist, Institute of Biology and Ecology, Faculty of Science, P. J. Safarik University in Kosice, Slovakia

Teaching

  • 1999-2000 Cell Biology at the Faculty of Science, the Institute of Biology and Ecology, University of PJS, Kosice, Slovakia, (laboratory course coordinator)
  • Spring 2010 - Oncology seminars for residents, internists and house officers SACS, UT
  • Spring 2010 – Participation for Research roundtable SACS, UT
  • June - August 2010 COE Summer Student Research Program;
  • October 2010 - CBE 579 - Advanced Biomolecular Engineering (3credit) Invited to give talk "Application of engineering and analysis to molecular and cellular biological sciences."
  • October 2010-December 2010 - Undergraduate Research Program (2 credits)
  • Spring 2011 – Oncology seminar for resident SACS, UT
  • June - August 2011 COE Summer Student Research Program
  • September – December 2011 - Undergraduate Research Program (2 and 3 credits
  • November 2011 – Facilitator for ABLE group of 2nd year UTCVM students
  • Spring, Summer, and Fall 2012 – CMVM614, section 008 – Mentor of Stem cells Journal Club (1 credit);

Grant

  • WINN Feline Foundation (PI: Cekanova): “New staging techniques and evaluation of therapies for oral SCCs in cats.”
  • National Institute of Justice/DOE/ORNL (PI: Bilheux, UT Leading PI: Cekanova): ” Investigation of a novel approach to forensic analysis using neutron imaging techniques.”
  • The Physicians’ Medical Education and Research Foundation (PI: Cekanova): “Role of estrogen receptor beta (ERß) in breast cancer”
  • NIH/NCI Pilot Project/Vanderbilt University Vanderbilt In Vivo Cellular and Molecular Imaging Center (PIs: Uddin and Cekanova): “The synthesis and evaluation of Fluorocoxib A in domestic animals with naturally-occurring tumors.”
  • Morris Animal Foundation (PIs: Legendre and Cekanova): “Safety and efficacy of a novel anthracycline, AD 198 in dogs with refractory lymphoma”
  • UT Center of Excellence in Livestock Diseases and Human Health (PI: Cekanova): “
  • UT Center of Excellence in Livestock Diseases and Human Health (PI: Cekanova): “Isolation and characterization of the Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Dogs” (PI: Cekanova)
  • UT Center of Excellence in Livestock Diseases and Human Health (PI: Cekanova): “Effects of carcinogens on the mesenchymal stem cells during breast development in dogs” (PI: Cekanova)

Awards

  • Award for excellent study results, graduated with honor, Dean of Faculty of Science, UPJS in Kosice, Slovakia, June 1999
  • Award from American Association for Cancer Research Pathobiology of Cancer: The Edward A. Smuckler Memorial Workshop, Snowmass Village, Colorado, July 2008
  • Award from National Cancer Institute/ American Association for Cancer Research to attend Cancer Research Imaging Camp, St. Louis, Missouri, June 20th - 25th, 2010
  • Award of Excellence, The University of Tennessee Research Symposium of Comparative and Experimental Medicine in Knoxville, Tennessee for the first place in category of Research Assistant Professor, June 20th -21st, 2012

Professional Societies

  • 2006 - present Associate member of American Society for Cell Biology
  • 2006 - present Active member of American Association for Cancer Research
  • 2010 - present Honorary member of the Society of Phi Zeta
  • 2012 - present Professional member of Veterinary Cancer Society