Amid the merriment, a moment devoted to medicine

James Graham Brown Cancer Center's Scientist, Physician of the Year to be recognized at The Julep Ball, May 3
Amid the merriment, a moment devoted to medicine

At The Julep Ball each year, a moment comes when the fun and excitement of the party retreat to the wings, allowing the reason the event exists to take center stage. This year, that moment will again come as the James Graham Brown Cancer Center’s Scientist and Physician of the Year are introduced.

Today, the Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville, a proud partner of KentuckyOne Health, announced that Jonathan "Brad" Chaires is Scientist of the Year and Jeffrey "Jeff" Bumpous is Physician of the Year. The two will be honored at the ball on Friday, May 3, at the KFC Yum! Center.

Known as the "Derby Eve Party with a Purpose," The Julep Ball supports the work of the Brown Cancer Center and its researchers and physicians such as Chaires and Bumpous.

"One of the main goals of the Brown Cancer Center is to have on our faculty excellent physicians like Jeff Bumpous and scientists like Brad Chaires," said Donald Miller, M.D., director of the cancer center. "This allows us to provide the most advanced cancer treatment available anywhere in the world. Jeff and Brad are prime representatives of all the scientists and physicians at the Brown Cancer Center who work every day to make life better for cancer patients in our region."

Both Chaires and Bumpous are "Bucks for Brains" faculty at UofL: Chaires is the James Graham Brown Endowed Chair of Biophysics and professor in the Department of Medicine; and Bumpous is the J. Samuel Bumgardner Professor of Otolaryngologic Surgery and chief of the Division of Otolaryngology in the Department of Surgery. Kentucky’s Research Challenge Trust Fund – created in 1997 and commonly known as Bucks for Brains – matches state funds with private donations providing strategic investment in university scholarship and research.

"Kentucky is a beautiful state, a wonderful state, but we still have a major problem with cancer in Kentucky," Miller said. "Supporters of The Julep Ball help us advance the war on cancer and better meet the needs of our patients and their families. We cannot thank our volunteers and supporters enough for what they help make possible."

At The Julep Ball, local and national business leaders, horse industry professionals and celebrities from sports, music, cinema and television again will be on hand. Entertainment will be provided by the World’s Greatest Party Band, the B-52s, and a celebrity emcee for the evening will be CBS Sports Radio broadcaster and former NFL great Tiki Barber. The celebrity red carpet entrance will return, as will dancing until the wee hours of Saturday morning following the B-52s concert. Special moments of The Julep Ball again will come when the scientists, physicians and patients at the forefront of cancer treatment and delivery are honored and saluted for their efforts.

Three-quarters of the available tickets for the full evening’s entertainment are now sold out, but plenty of dance-only tickets are still available. The full evening’s entertainment is $500 per person while dance-only tickets are $150 per person. For further information and to buy tickets, go to The Julep Ball website,

The Julep Ball is sponsored in part by Brown-Forman, Republic National Distribution Company of Kentucky, Power Creative, Kroger, LG&E, Ingrid Design, Raymond E. and Eleanor H. Loyd, Hilliard Lyons, KentuckyOne Health, Tafel Motors, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Advanced Electrical Systems, Montgomery Chevrolet, AT&T Kentucky, BKD, Republic Bank, Stites & Harbison, Heuser Clinic and Publishers Printing. Media partners are Louisville Magazine, NFocus, the Voice-Tribune, WHAS11 and 102.3 The Max.

About Brad Chaires, Ph.D., Scientist of the Year

Chaires came to UofL in 2004. In his work, he collaborates closely with other Brown Cancer Center faculty members, and it is this type of collaboration that drew him to Louisville from the University of Mississippi Medical Center. "What the Brown Cancer Center and Don Miller have done in creating a strong structural biology program gave me an instant team for collaborative efforts. This collaborative approach is unique among cancer centers throughout the country," he said.

Chaires’ current research focuses on drug discovery at the basic research level, examining new compounds that interact with nucleic acid structures. "We believe there are specific nucleic acid structures that we can target to shut off the production of proteins early in the development of cancer," he said.

Earlier in his tenure at UofL, Chaires and his research team pioneered the use of calorimetry for characterizing the human plasma proteome as a new tool for the rapid diagnosis of disease. Calorimetry is the technique used to measure the heat produced by chemical reactions or physical changes that occur in organisms. Chaires and his team used differential scanning calorimetry, which enables the collection of data from a very small amount of material, to create a visual map of how blood proteins behave when heated, providing clues to specific diseases.

"It turns out that these maps look pretty much the same for people who are healthy," Chaires said. "However, they look different for people with various diseases. In fact, our research showed that diseases leave a distinctive ‘fingerprint’ on the test result," making a simple blood test a possible new way to spot disease more quickly.

Chaires earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, a Ph.D. in biophysics from the University of Connecticut and was a National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow at Yale University. He was on the faculty of the University of Mississippi from 1982 to 2004; during that time, he spent a year on sabbatical as a Visiting Professor at the prestigious Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry

Chaires is co-holder of three U.S. patents for technology developed from his research, and even as federal funding for research has diminished over the past decade, he has won competitive grant funding continuously since 1984 from the National Cancer Institute, other National Institutes of Health agencies, the National Science Foundation and a variety of other agencies and foundations. He has published prolifically in scientific and medical journals as the lead or co-author of more than 150 articles.

About Jeff Bumpous, M.D., Physician of the Year

Bumpous has been at UofL since 1994 and leads a multidisciplinary team of health care providers in treating cancers of the head and neck. These include cancers of the mouth, larynx (voice box), pharynx (throat), nasal cavity, sinuses, salivary glands and thyroid gland.

Kentucky has one of the highest rates of head and neck cancer in the United States, making the work of surgeons such as Bumpous crucial. "In Kentucky, we see a high rate of patients with oropharyngeal cancers, and at the Brown Cancer Center, our patients number in the hundreds each year," he said. The oropharynx is the middle section of the pharynx.

As might be expected, the high rate of oropharyngeal cancers is attributed to Kentucky’s higher-than-average rate of smoking, Bumpous said, but, "we also have seen over the past decade an increase in oropharyngeal ragged cancer that is HPV-related." HPV is the human papillomavirus; in January, the American Cancer Society reported that it has passed tobacco as the most common cause of oral cancer in the United States.

To treat cancer, Bumpous said, an inclusive approach is paramount. "I am a big believer in the multidisciplinary approach, and am proud that our clinic was one of the first multidisciplinary clinics at the Brown Cancer Center," he said. Multidisciplinary care involves a complete treatment team of medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons and other medical professionals along with support staff such as social workers, palliative care providers and other caregivers.

"We put the patient first and the cancer second," Bumpous said. "The entire team develops the plan with the patient, and my fundamental role is to serve the patient through the best evidence-based medicine we can provide."

Bumpous earned his bachelor’s degree from Morehead State University and his medical degree from UofL. He completed his internship and residency in general surgery, otolaryngology and head and neck surgery at Saint Louis University and a post-graduate fellowship in advanced head and neck and cranial base surgery at the University of Pittsburgh. He is board-certified in otolaryngology and is lead or co-author of more than 60 journal articles and scientific book chapters.