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In the Spotlight...

Susan R. Atlas, Ph.D.

satlasSusan R. Atlas, Ph.D.
Research Professor, Department of Physics & Astronomy
The University of New Mexico

Dr. Atlas has disclosed five inventions and received one UNM-affiliated issued U. S. patent for her leukemia-related technologies.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is the most common type of cancer in children. High-risk B-precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) patients are fewer in number and have not been well studied. In the United States, over 62,130 new cases of leukemia will be diagnosed this year. Of that number, about 5,970 will be acute lymphoblastic leukemia, with 4 out of 10 ALL cases occurring in adults. Children between the ages of 2 and 4 are most at risk, while elderly people over the age of 50 are also at risk. The five-year, event-free survival rate in children is about 80% and in adults about 40%. The outcome of ALL has improved over time, but 25% of children still relapse.

Dr. Atlas’ technology provides a method for identifying prognostic genetic markers in patients with high-risk B-ALL. By establishing a threshold value of prognostic genes, the method can predict the patient’s therapeutic outcome. This technology is useful in determining the most effective therapeutic agents to use when planning the patient’s course of treatment. This improved diagnostic and risk classification technology may improve clinical outcomes for B-ALL patients, particularly for the 25% of children who relapse.

Dr. Atlas’ research focuses on a computer-intensive research effort in molecular biophysics and biophysics; machine learning/pattern recognition as applied to structure-function relationships in proteins; and molecular clustering and classification for outcome prediction and novel subtype identification in cancer. Her theoretical work relates to the development of novel exchange-correlation energy density functionals for strongly correlated electronic systems and charge transfer embedded atom functionals for molecular dynamics simulations of proteins and materials.

ISSUED U. S. PATENT (UNM-AFFILIATED)

8,568,974          Identification of Novel Subgroups of High-Risk Pediatric Precursor B Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, Outcome Correlations and Diagnostic and Therapeutic Methods Related To Same, issued October 29, 2013

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