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Vision Includes Building, Expanding GI Cancer Prevention Programs

Dr. Rigas
Basil Rigas, M.D., Chief of the Divisions of Cancer Prevention and
Gastroenterology and Hepatology in the Department of Medicine, Stony
Brook University Hospital, at work in his laboratory. Dr. Rigas’
research focus is cancer prevention. One major project, supported by
a $3.2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute, involves
testing a promising aspirin derivative as a preventive agent against
colon and pancreatic cancer. This study is the only one of its kind

STONY BROOK, N.Y., June 13, 2006 – Basil Rigas, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Pharmacological Sciences, and Chief, Division of Cancer Prevention at Stony Brook University Hospital, has been appointed Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in the Department of Medicine.

The Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology includes specialized services and expertise for all forms of digestive disease and gastrointestinal (GI) cancers. The medical team works closely with Surgical Oncology and the Stony Brook University Cancer Center to diagnose, treat, and provide follow-up care for GI cancer patients. Dr. Rigas’ expertise in cancer prevention paves the way for a stronger focus on GI cancer prevention services within the Division.

Dr. Rigas, who came to Stony Brook in 2004, has published widely in national and international science and medical journals on the potential of preventing colon cancer by way of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDS), nitric-oxide NSAIDS, and other pharmacological agents. He pioneered the application of infrared spectroscopy to biology with emphasis on cancer and holds several patents. Dr. Rigas is the author of over 100 peer-reviewed publications and has co-authored a textbook, Clinical Gastroenterology, which was translated into several foreign languages. Previously he served on the faculty at Rockefeller University, Cornell University, and the Institute for Cancer Prevention in Valhalla, N.Y.

"Dr. Rigas brings a long and distinguished record of investigative accomplishments in the areas of gastroenterology and cancer prevention," says Margaret Parker, M.D., Chair, Department of Medicine. "He will provide leadership as we integrate GI-related cancer prevention services with the expansion of the Stony Brook University Cancer Center."

Dr. Rigas will integrate into the Division the research and findings of testing a potent aspirin derivative, called nitroaspirin, which shows promise in preventing colon and pancreatic cancer. His research is supported by a $3.2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to enroll patients who are prone to colon cancer to take nitroaspirin. It is the only trial of its kind worldwide.

"The goal within the Division is to expand clinical programs and research in many areas of gastroenterology and hepatology, such as for inflammatory bowel disease, esophageal disorders, biliary and pancreatic diseases, and follow-up of liver transplantation patients," says Dr. Rigas. "We will also emphasize our cancer prevention program, and expand it to all forms of GI cancer."

The Stony Brook University Cancer Center attracts patients from throughout the region with cutting edge diagnostic and treatment facilities and compassionate care. The Cancer Center promotes multidisciplinary and translational research for all forms of cancer, to ensure that results from research are incorporated into therapies.

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