Monday, August 29, 2011
Only a select group of cancer centers throughout the U.S. achieve this prestigious recognition
The University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center has won renewal of its National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation for five years, along with $7.6 million in new federal funding for cancer research.
The NCI bestows this special designation on the nation’s top cancer centers in recognition of their scientific excellence and outstanding patient care. The Greenebaum Cancer Center was first named an NCI-designated center in 2008. The NCI renewed the designation following an exhaustive review process, which included a 1,100-page grant proposal and site visit earlier this year by a team of two dozen NCI-appointed scientists.
“We’re enormously pleased that the National Cancer Institute has renewed our designation and agreed to provide $7.6 million in additional funding through mid-2016 that will help us significantly expand our clinical and basic science research programs,” says Kevin J. Cullen, M.D., the cancer center’s director and professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Achieving this designation for a second time not only reflects the hard work of our scientists, physicians and staff, but also underscores our cancer center’s reputation as a national leader in cancer research.”
“The University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer is a world-class cancer research institution, with an outstanding translational research program and some of the best scientific minds anywhere working to unravel the mysteries of cancer. This latest recognition and funding from the NCI is much deserved and will help to pave the way for major discoveries that will benefit cancer patients everywhere,” says E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., vice president of medical affairs at the University of Maryland and dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Since the cancer center first received NCI designation, its total research funding has increased 55 percent, to a current level of $74.2 million. The staff has expanded as well, employing 215 scientists and physicians, all of whom are on the faculty of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and three University of Maryland professional schools in Baltimore as well as two other campuses in Catonsville and College Park.
“The cancer center has experienced significant growth under Dr. Cullen’s leadership and brings together experts from across the University System of Maryland in the fight against cancer. We’re very pleased the NCI has once again given the center its stamp of approval as a premier cancer center,” says Jay A. Perman, M.D., president of the University of Maryland in Baltimore.
The cancer center is part of the University of Maryland Medical Center, where patients have access to a wide range of medical experts and support services. Jeffrey A. Rivest, president and chief executive officer of the University of Maryland Medical Center, says, “The cancer center’s NCI designation brings more clinical trials to patients, providing new treatment options.” The cancer center currently offers 215 clinical trials, often collaborating with other leading cancer centers across the country.
The center places a strong emphasis on participation of underrepresented minorities in clinical research. About 36 percent of minority patients treated at the cancer center participate in a clinical trial, compared to a national average of about 1 percent. “African-Americans have a much higher death rate from cancer than white patients with the same disease, and we need to look at the underlying reasons. Their participation in clinical trials provides us with valuable information to better understand cancer in this community and to develop effective treatments,” Dr. Cullen says.
Key areas of research include cancer health disparities; cancer vaccines and tumor immunology; resistance of certain cancers to chemotherapy; HIV-related cancers; development of new cancer drugs and treatments; and the genetics of cancer – the role that certain genes play in how the disease develops.
Angela H. Brodie, Ph.D., an internationally recognized breast cancer researcher and professor of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, pioneered the development of drugs called aromatase inhibitors that have become the standard of care for thousands of breast cancer patients worldwide. Now, Dr. Brodie is looking at ways to reprogram resistant tumors – such as aggressive triple-negative breast cancers – so that they respond to treatment with aromatase inhibitors. In addition, she is developing novel hormone compounds called anti-androgens to treat prostate cancer.
The University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center is one of 66 NCI-designated cancer centers throughout the United States. The center has comprehensive programs to treat all types of cancer and is a major referral center for patients throughout Maryland and the region. It has been recognized as one of the top 25 cancer centers in the nation by U.S. News and World Report in 2011. The cancer center is named for real estate developer and businessman Stewart Greenebaum and his wife, Marlene, a breast cancer survivor. For more information about the center, go to www.umgcc.org.