Rosalie Sears, Ph.D., professor of molecular and medical genetics, OHSU School of Medicine, was appointed the inaugural recipient of the Krista L. Lake Chair in Cancer Research. OHSU School of Medicine Dean Sharon Anderson presided over an investiture attended by Dr. Sears and family, OHSU President Danny Jacobs, Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics and Knight Cancer Institute leaders and faculty, and members of the OHSU Foundation.
Dr. Sears is also co-director of OHSU’s Brenden-Colson Center for Pancreatic Care. She received her bachelor’s degree in biology from Reed College, her Ph.D. in cell biology from Vanderbilt University and conducted her post-doctoral studies at Duke University prior to coming to OHSU in 2001.
Dr. Sears studies cellular signaling pathways that control tumor cell behavior, with a focus on their convergence on the MYC oncoprotein and how this impacts MYC’s expression, activity, and its regulation of cell fate decisions related to cancer development and therapy resistance. Her lab’s work on MYC and intra-tumor cellular heterogeneity has led to new combination drug strategies that are being tested in mouse models of human cancer. Dr. Sears’ lab also propagates patient-derived tumor cells and uses three-dimensional bioprinting to recreate patient tumors in the lab and study the interaction between tumor cells and surrounding support and immune cells for patient-specific drug testing.
Dr. Sears has received funding for her work from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation, as well as several other private foundations. She has received both research and business innovation awards in the areas of cancer biology, therapeutics, and technology advancement.
The Krista L. Lake Chair in Cancer Research was established by a generous gift from Norman and Linda Brenden and the Colson Family Foundation to honor a close family friend. Krista Lynn (Davis) Lake — a loving daughter, wife, “dog mom” and friend — died March 2, 2018, at age 45. Krista was born in Salem, Oregon, but spent much of her life in Arizona — ultimately working with her father, Mick Davis, in land acquisition for the senior housing industry in Phoenix. Before joining her father’s business, she spent many years working as a television news producer in Phoenix.
All who knew her agree Krista was a vibrant, engaging woman, with a range of interests and a love for life. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Arizona and a master’s degree in journalism from Arizona State University. She was an accomplished pianist and flautist, and traveled extensively through Europe, North America and Central America with her husband, Jeff Lake. She also had a deep love of animals and pursued many outdoor activities as hobbies, including flower gardening, skiing and hiking.
While she lost her life much too soon after a brave battle with melanoma, Krista’s spirit lives on in all who knew her, and through the groundbreaking work to end cancer as we know it that will be made possible by this OHSU position named in her honor.
Norm and Linda Brenden and the Colson Family Foundation
Norm and Linda Brenden and the board of the Colson Family Foundation have a long history of jointly supporting efforts to fight pancreatic disease, breast cancer and other health challenges.
The Colson Family Foundation administers charitable giving programs through the estate of William Colson, who founded the Salem-based Holiday Retirement Corp. in the 1970s. Working with members of his family, his longtime friend and business partner, Norm Brenden, and many others, Bill Colson built Holiday into the largest owner and operator of retirement communities in the country.
Since Bill’s cancer-related death in 2007, Norm has continued to work closely with Bill’s wife and sons in various business and charitable ventures. Norm serves on the Colson Family Foundation board, and with his wife, Linda, actively supports a range of charitable causes.
The two families share a passion for cancer research, and have individually and jointly made several generous gifts to OHSU to advance the fight against pancreatic and breast cancer, fueling the collaborative research of Brett Sheppard, MD, Rosalie Sears, PhD, and others. In 2010, the Brendens and Colson Family Foundation established the William E. Colson Chair for Pancreatic Disease Research. In 2013, the two parties made a transformational gift to establish the Brenden-Colson Center for Pancreatic Care, which has contributed to OHSU’s growth as a leader in cancer research. Their most recent joint gift established the Krista L. Lake Chair in Cancer Research.