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Maria Cekanova MS, RNDr, PhD
Research Associate 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.

Available job opportunities in Dr. Cekanova’s laboratory

Education

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

Background

Maria Cekanova, RNDr, Ph.D. is the Director of Translational Research Laboratory and Research Associate Professor of Oncology at the department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences. Cekanova received her Ph.D. in Genetics from Pavol Josef Safarik University in Kosice, Slovakia and did postdoctoral research training at the University of Tennessee at the Department of Pathobiology of College of Veterinary Medicine. She began her academic career at the University of Tennessee at the department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences in 2009. Cekanova’s research program focuses on the evaluation of novel imaging and therapeutic agents for detection and treatment of cancers. Her group has used companion animals with naturally-occurring tumors as models for human cancers in vivo and in vitro.

Included in the awards Cekanova has received the Zoetis Research Award of Excellence from the University of Tennessee from College of Veterinary Medicine in Knoxville; the Award from National Cancer Institute/ American Association for Cancer Research to attend Cancer Research Imaging Camp; Award from American Association for Cancer Research Pathobiology of Cancer: The Edward A. Smuckler Memorial Workshop, Award for excellent study results, graduated with honors, Dean of Faculty of Science, UPJS in Kosice, Award of Excellence, University of Tennessee Research Symposium of Comparative and Experimental Medicine in Knoxville, Tennessee for first place in category of Research Assistant Professor. She is the author of over 35 research publications and multiple presentations. She served as a reviewer of National Institute of Health study section BMIT-B and Slovak Grant Agency, APVV and she serves as member of College of Research Committee at UTCVM since 2011 and as a member of Science Review Committee for Neutron Science user’s proposals at Oak Ridge National Laboratory since 2015.

Employment

  • 2015 – present, Research Associate Professor, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • 2014 – present, Adjunct Faculty, UT-ORNL Graduate School of Genome Science and Technology, UT, Knoxville
  • 2009 – 2015, 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, Research and Teaching Assistant, Institute of Biology and Ecology, Faculty of Science, P. J. Safarik University in Kosice (tenured position), Slovakia

Research Interest

  • Evaluation of 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 technique 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 human, 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.

Scientific Societies

  • Active member of American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) since 2006
  • Professional member of World Molecular Imaging Society (WMIS) since 2014
  • Associate member of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) 2006-2014
  • Professional member of Veterinary Cancer Society (VCS) 2012

Awards and Honors

  • 2015 Zoetis Research Award of Excellence, the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, Knoxville, TN
  • 2015-2017 Science Review Committee for Neutron Science user’s proposals at ORNL twice per year 2015-2017
  • February 2015 Invited reviewer for NIH study section BMIT-B
  • June 2012 Award of Excellence, University of Tennessee Research Symposium of Comparative and Experimental Medicine in Knoxville, Tennessee for first place in category of Research Assistant Professor, June 20th -21st, 2012
  • March 2010 Award from National Cancer Institute/ American Association for Cancer Research to attend Cancer Research Imaging Camp, St. Louis, Missouri, June 20th - 25th, 2010
  • July 2008 Award from American Association for Cancer Research Pathobiology of Cancer: The Edward A. Smuckler Memorial Workshop, Snowmass Village, Colorado
  • June 1999 Award for excellent study results, graduated with honors, Dean of Faculty of Science, UPJS 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
  • 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, 2014 - Undergraduate Research Program (2 and 3 credits
  • November 2011 – Facilitator for ABLE group of 2nd year UTCVM students
  • Spring, Summer, and Fall 2012, Fall 2015 – CMVM614, section 008 – Mentor of Stem cells Journal Club (1 credit);
  • Fall 2014 – Lecture "Introduction to GST program", LFSC515, (1h lecture)
  • Spring 2014, 2015 – Lecture Metastasis and Animal Models of Cancer for course BCMB420 - Biology of Cancer, 2 credit)

Grants

  • NIH 1R15CA182850-01A1 (PI: Cekanova) "Detection of COX-2-expressing bladder by fluorocoxib A." 2014-2017
  • AB Science, Paris, France (PI: Cekanova) "Grading canine Mast Cell Tumors for AB Science Masitinib® clinical trial" 2014-2016
  • The Physicians’ Medical Education and Research Foundation (PI: Cekanova): "Characterize molecular markers of established primary human oral squamous cell carcinomas and bladder cancers." 2014-2015
  • UT Center of Excellence in Livestock Diseases and Human Health (PI: Cekanova): "Canine Mesenchymal stem cells for treatment of musculoskeletal disorders as a model for human diseases" 2015-2016
  • MiIam Grant (PI: Bartges) "Research in oncology and metabolism in dogs and cats" 2006-2016
  • UT Center of Excellence in Livestock Diseases and Human Health (PI: Cekanova): "Neutron imaging for detection of cancer"2014-2016
  • UT Center of Excellence in Livestock Diseases and Human Health (PI: Cekanova): "Monitoring the responses of carcinomas to radiation therapy using COX-2-targeted imaging probes" 2013-2014
  • UT Center of Excellence in Livestock Diseases and Human Health (PI: Cekanova): "Evaluation of novel optical imaging tracer Fluorocoxib in canine cancer"2012-2013
  • 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." 2011-2013
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory Seed Money grant (PI: Nicols) "Neutron imaging for the determination of tumor margins" 2010-2011
  • The Physicians’ Medical Education and Research Foundation (PI: Cekanova): "Role of estrogen receptor beta (ERβ) in breast cancer" 2010-2013
  • WINN Feline Foundation W10-045 (PI: Cekanova): "New staging techniques and evaluation of therapies for oral SCCs in cats." 2010-2012
  • National Institute of Justice/DOE/ORNL (PI: Bilheux, UT Leading PI: Cekanova):"Investigation of a novel approach to forensic analysis using neutron imaging techniques." 2010-2012
  • UT Center of Excellence in Livestock Diseases and Human Health (PI: Cekanova): "The Effect of different NSAIDs in canine primary Osteosarcoma cell lines" 2009-2012
  • UT Center of Excellence in Livestock Diseases and Human Health (PI: Cekanova): "Isolation and characterization of the Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Dogs" (PI: Cekanova) 2009-2013
  • Ford Dodge Animal Health (PI: Cekanova) "Establishing the canine primary cancer cell lines to investigate the role of the RNA/siRNA dimer in the tumor growth" 2009-2010