Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy Receives $2 Million Grant

Jim Mortenson | February 04, 2011
Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy Receives $2 Million Grant

The Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy at UMass Boston is $2 million closer to being fully operational, thanks to a grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC).

The MLSC Board of Directors announced the award on January 26, expressing strong support for the center, a joint initiative of UMass Boston and the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC) in the fight against disparities in cancer treatments and outcomes.

The Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy will develop highly specific, accurate, and affordable cancer tests. The results of these tests will be entered into a bioinformatics database that will provide physicians with the necessary data to determine and then administer a therapy with the greatest chance for success in treating the patient.

"This is a tremendous milestone in establishing a scientific facility on our campus to do translational research, partner with industry, build capacity for basic biomedical science, provide new workforce development opportunities, and deliver new products that will make an impact in the clinical market,” Chancellor J. Keith Motley said. “Most important, however, is that the new center will help us address our community’s needs for justice in accessing cutting-edge cancer treatment.”

The MLSC Board of Directors has been working with the center's institutional partners for more than five years on training and community outreach activities targeted to addressing cancer disparities among low-income, non-majority, and other inadequately served, diverse populations.

“We are pleased to support an initiative that will address the long-standing racial, ethnic and economic disparities that exist in cancer care, as well as improve the quality of care for all cancer patients,” said Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister, president and chief executive officer of the MLSC. “This is an exciting collaboration between Massachusetts’ outstanding public university system, and our world-leading Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center.”

Dr. Andrew J. Grosovsky, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics, has led UMass Boston’s effort to establish the Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy since his arrival at the university in August 2007. Grosovsky’s own research focuses on the mechanisms of environmental carcinogenesis. Bringing the center to fruition has been “a true team effort,” according to Grosovsky.

"The center will enable us to do new activities within the [UMass Boston- DF/HCC] partnership that we have not otherwise been able to do," Grosovsky said. "We're establishing a scientific core facility to do translational research, partner with industry, build the basic biomedical sciences at UMass Boston, provide new workforce development opportunities, and deliver new products and methods that will make an impact in the clinical market."

The Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy will focus on just that- "personalized cancer therapy."

"The recognition that every person's tumor is unique has become a significant focus in the field, and represents a promise for more effective treatment for every patient in the future," Grosovsky said. "The center will develop products and methodologies that will help to better classify individual patient tumors, thus making it possible for physicians to prescribe the most optimized treatment, and for pharmaceutical companies to develop more customized therapeutics to add to the physician's arsenal."

The MLSC grant will supplement $18 million in previously committed federal grant funding for the project. The Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy will begin operations shortly in UMass Boston's Venture Development Center. Construction of UMass Boston’s Integrated Sciences Complex, which will be the permanent home of the center, is slated to begin in spring of this year, with an anticipated opening in the fall of 2013.

"We feel that this center will help maintain Massachusetts' leadership in the life sciences," Grosovsky said.

Read the full news release on the UMass Boston website.

Tags: center for personalized cancer therapy , cpct , research , the point

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