(Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons)
University of Alabama at Birmingham received a $29 million grant from the National Cancer Institute. This five year core grant will support six research programs at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. The renewal of the Cancer Center Support Grant, the most prestigious federal grant that a cancer research and treatment program can earn, also extends UAB’s elite “comprehensive” designation. According to the UAB News website this designation is awarded for scientific excellence and the ability to integrate diverse research approaches in the fight against cancer.
Why is being a “comprehensive” center important?
Because “comprehensive” centers help to save lives. Dr. Smita Bhatia, director of the UAB Institute of Cancer Outcomes and Survivorship says, “We have shown that, among individuals … with newly diagnosed adult-onset cancer, those who were treated at NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers experienced superior survival compared with those treated at other facilities.” This may be because patients have access to leading-edge treatments or clinical trials that might not be available elsewhere. It may also be due to the fact that the specialized physicians who care for patients in the clinics collaborate with researchers in the laboratories to develop new screening, prevention, and treatment methods. UAB CCC is one of only 45 NCI-designated “comprehensive” cancer centers in the U.S. and the only one in the Deep South region.
How will the $29 Million be Used?
“I believe that by 2050 we can eliminate cancer as a public health problem,” said Edward Partridge, M.D., director of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. “That doesn’t mean cancer will go away, but that we can treat cancer just like we do other diseases….This critical funding from the NCI helps us get there. We are now poised to take our research to the next level and deliver new and advanced treatments to our patients as quickly and safely as possible.”
A large part of this NCI funding sustains core facilities, which are shared research resources that house state-of-the-art technologies and expertise that investigators could not afford through typical research grants. It also supports leadership, so they can oversee research programs and initiatives as well as recruit new faculty.
“Bottom line, our core grant provides the infrastructure to support all our scientists who strive every day to reduce the cancer burden,” Partridge said. “Every research lab we have is like a small business. When you attract high-caliber faculty and researchers, the impact trickles down... Our recruits … support the scientific workforce … by hiring supply and equipment vendors, contractors and laborers for the construction and renovation of laboratory facilities...”
“This grant provides the basis for us to pursue excellence in all of the areas of our mission, including cutting-edge clinical care, translational research, education and the economic development of our community,” said Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., FACS, senior vice president for Medicine and dean of the UAB School of Medicine.
About UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center
The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC) has 242 members, representing 30 departments, who have received $92, 055,777 in direct funding. Since 2010 the Cancer Center has recruited 63 scientific investigators including renowned senior clinician scientists such as Harry Erba, M.D., Ph.D., hematological malignancies; Ravi Bhatia, M.D., hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; Smita Bhatia, M.D., MPH, pediatrics and cancer outcomes and survivorship; Mansoor Saleh, M.D., phase I clinical trials; Herbert Chen, M.D., surgery; and Ichiro Nakano, M.D., Ph.D., neuro-oncology.
Since 2011 CCC has enhanced research capabilities in by:
- Optimizing the Alabama Drug Discovery Alliance, which currently has 10 cancer projects in development.
- Creating the UAB Cancer Center/HudsomAlpha Institute for Biotechnolgy Consortium, which provides a platform for building research teams focused on integrating genomic information in cancer research and treatment.
- Developing a dedicated Phase I Clinical Trails program, which provides a facility for first-in-human studies for patients receiving both FDA approved and experimental drug treatments and currently has 16 first-in-human phase I trials open.
In September, Biotechnology Calendar Inc. will host the annual Birmingham BioResearch Product Faire™ Event on the UAB campus. This gives researchers the opportunity to meet face to face with laboratory equipment suppliers to discuss their needs and see demonstrations of the latest in research products. Science professionals attend for free. Lab suppliers who wish to take advantage of this opportunity should call (530) 272-6675 or click the link below for more information.