Friday, July 13, 2012

SPORE grants set UAB apart

The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center is one of few institutions to have been awarded three or more SPORE (Specialized Program of Research Excellence) grants from the National Cancer Institute. Currently the center holds SPORES in pancreatic and breast cancer and is partnered with John Hopkins University on a cervical cancer SPORE. Additionally, the Cancer Center was the only institution nationwide to receive a SPORE grant in pancreatic cancer in 2010. Why is this grant such a big deal?

It supports projects that will lead to the early detection, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human cancers. Each SPORE is focused on a specific organ site, such as breast or pancreatic cancer. "SPOREs are designed to enable the rapid and efficient movement of basic scientific findings into clinical settings, as well as to determine the biological basis for observations made in individuals with cancer or in populations at risk for cancer," according to the National Cancer Institute.

Principal investigator Donald J. Buchsbaum, Ph.D., director of radiation biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, leads the SPORE program in pancreatic cancer. Support from the NCI was granted because of the Cancer Center's expertise in tumor biology, virology/gene therapy, immunobiology and targeted immunotherapy. Current research projects stem from previously established efforts that showed the most promise.

Kirby I. Bland, M.D., chair of the department of surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, is the principal investigator of the SPORE program in breast cancer. In order to best accomplish the goal of prevention, detection, prognosis and therapy development, this project assembled many basic and clinical scientists, including molecular/cell biologists, pathologists, medical/surgical oncologists, experts in the development of new technologies, and biostatisticians.

There are currently 62 grants across 23 states in the country. UAB claims Alabama's only SPORE grants. Just another example of what sets the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center apart.

-Ed Partridge, M.D.

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