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U-M Cancer Center gets $26.6 million grant from NCI

'Comprehensive cancer center' status also renewed
added 9/6/06

Max S. Wicha, M.D.
Max Wicha, M.D.

Ann Arbor - The National Cancer Institute has awarded the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center a grant worth $26.6 million over five years. At the same time, the center's designation as a "comprehensive cancer center" was renewed.

The grant is a renewal of the Cancer Center's core support grant, provided as part of the NCI's cancer centers program. U-M has received NCI funding for its Cancer Center since 1988. The new grant will fund the center through 2010.

"With this grant, our outstanding collection of faculty, staff, resources and facilities can continue to wage war on cancer for individual patients here and around the world," says Max Wicha, M.D., director of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center and Distinguished Professor of Oncology.

The funding will allow ongoing research in areas such as cancer stem cells, prevention and targeted molecular therapies, as well as supporting the clinical research operations. In FY07, the Cancer Center plans to expand its services into new space on the U-M medical campus, allowing for greater patient volumes and increased patient services. In addition, plans are underway to open a Phase I research unit, dedicated to early-stage clinical research trials, as well as a cancer survivorship program for those who have finished treatment.

The Cancer Center submitted a 1,420-page grant renewal to the NCI and underwent a rigorous two-day site visit by reviewers in fall 2005. The reviewers commented that the U-M Cancer Center "continues to make remarkable progress and is characterized by a strong cancer focus and an environment that encourages collaboration. Many high-impact discoveries .have come from scientists within the Cancer Center over the past five years."

Due to federal budget cuts, the $26.6 million funding is essentially flat from that awarded at the last renewal period, in 2000. The initial report from reviewers recommended a 52 percent increase in funding, based on the Cancer Center's significant accomplishments over the previous five years and its proposals for future initiatives. But the 2007 federal budget cut the NCI's funding by nearly $40 million, after several years of flat funding, prohibiting any increase in the grant to U-M and other centers seeking grant renewals this year.

"Continued federal support is crucial to continuing the war against cancer. In recent years, scientists have made fundamental discoveries about cancer that are now poised to be tested as possible new therapies. NCI funding has allowed us to explore promising new ways to make cancer care less toxic, more compassionate and more effective," Wicha says.

To earn the designation of "comprehensive cancer center," an institution must participate in basic and clinical research as well as prevention and control research, with strong interactions among those areas. A center must also provide public information, education and outreach programs. U-M is one of two comprehensive cancer centers in Michigan and one of 39 across the country.

The Cancer Center has 369 member physicians and researchers in 18 clinical, basic and prevention research programs and 11 multidisciplinary clinics.

Patient volumes have grown steadily at the Cancer Center in recent years. Chemotherapy infusions alone have increased 15 percent each year from 1998-2004. In fiscal year 2006, U-M provided more services to more patients and families than ever before:

  • 67,384 outpatient visits
  • 37,216 infusion treatments
  • 3,559 courses of radiation treatment and 4,878 radiation consults provided at University Hospital and seven off-campus locations
  • 4,521 adult cancer patients admitted to University Hospital - more than any other hospital in Michigan.

The top five cancers diagnosed and treated were melanoma, digestive system cancers, blood cancers, prostate cancer and breast cancer.

For information about the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, visit the "About UMCCC" area of this web site. To speak to a cancer nurse, call the Cancer AnswerLine™ at 800-865-1125.

Written by Nicole Fawcett

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This article is from a publication now a part of the Cancer Center's News Archive. It is listed here for historical purposes only.

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