Three New England cancer centers form consortium

UVM, Dartmouth and UMMS to collaborate on research

By Lisa M. Larson

UMass Medical School Communications

November 29, 2011

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Gary Stein, PhD 

Recognizing strength in numbers, three prominent New England cancer centers are forming a research consortium to advance cancer prevention, detection and treatment. 

UMass Memorial Cancer Center of Excellence, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center in New Hampshire and the Vermont Cancer Center at the University of Vermont are working together to unlock the secrets of cancer cells. In its initial year, the collaborative is funding six grants chosen from a pool of 20 applications.

“Cancer prevention, detection and treatment are formidable challenges,” said Gary Stein, PhD, the Gerald L. Haidak, MD, and Zelda S. Haidak Professor of Cell Biology, co-director of the UMass Memorial Cancer Center of Excellence and chair and professor of cell biology. “It would be difficult to overstate the opportunities for progress that will emerge by combining the unique expertise and experience of three major northern New England cancer centers. Unquestionably, this collaborative team approach will exceed advances that can be made independently.”

Stein said the objective is to support basic, clinical, population-based and translational cancer research. Physician-investigators in the program are required to work with at least one other institution. Funding is approved for the first year of study, with a second year available for researchers who demonstrate outstanding progress and seek outside funding for subsequent years.

The Our Danny Cancer Fund is funding the work of the UMass Medical School and UMass Memorial researchers.

“This is a window of opportunity that will enable the dedicated members of three leading cancer centers to make a difference that can save lives,” said Dottie Manning, co-founder of the Our Danny Cancer Fund.


Research initiatives of the collaborative program include: 
 

  • UMMS and Dartmouth scientists will partner to understand disruption of relationships between cell division and blood cell formation that occurs during development of leukemia. 
  • A collaboration between UMMS and Dartmouth cancer center scientists will focus on the two largest preventable causes of adolescent cancer, tobacco use and obesity.
  • A team of scientists and physician investigators from UMMS, Dartmouth and UVM cancer centers will develop and evaluate the effectiveness of an internet-based weight loss program for breast cancer survivors. The objective is to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence.
  • A partnership of UMMS and Dartmouth scientists and physician investigators will explore the basis for patient resistance to “active surveillance” rather than treatments that include surgery and/or radiation therapy for prostate cancer with minimal risk of recurrence. Because of complications from treatments, an informed decision on therapy can influence quality of life. 
  • A team of scientists and physician investigators from UMMS, Dartmouth and UVM cancer centers will investigate the contribution of fatty acid metabolism to responses of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma to treatment. This will lead to increase effectiveness for patient therapy.

UMMS and Dartmouth scientists will partner to understand disruption of relationships between cell division and blood cell formation that occurs during development of leukemia.