New program to create transformational hub for cancer research at University of Michigan

Diane Simeone, M.D., in the new Translational Oncology Program laboratory space at NCRC

Translational Oncology Program unites cancer researchers across campus to develop new treatment options for patients

The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center is harnessing its expertise in basic science research to speed the translation into clinical trials and new treatment opportunities for cancer patients.

A new Translational Oncology Program will open on the University’s North Campus Research Complex, bringing together cancer researchers from across the campus.

“The University of Michigan is well known for its strength in basic science. Now, we have the opportunity with the Translational Oncology Program to really make a difference in patients’ lives — which is the real reason we are all here,” says Diane Simeone, M.D., who has been named director of the new program.

“Important discoveries are going to come from looking at cancer from many different angles. This program will bring together scientists from different areas and allow us to approach cancer from all angles,” says Simeone, the Lazar J. Greenfield Professor of Surgery at the U-M Medical School.

Up to 40 investigators will eventually be part of this new program, including teams focused on experimental therapeutics, cancer stem cells, molecular imaging and genomics.

The program will work closely with industry to facilitate drug development and early phase testing of potential new cancer treatments. This collaboration between laboratory scientists and clinicians will help researchers better target what treatments are likely to be effective in patients. In addition, two core facilities will allow researchers easier access to robust pre-clinical model systems.

“The Translational Oncology Program represents a major hub for cancer research and a tremendous opportunity to facilitate new discoveries for patients. Identifying and understanding the molecular pathways at work in cancer, and targeting treatments to these pathways, represents the future of cancer care. Through the Translational Oncology Program we will lead the way in discovering tomorrow’s cancer treatments,” says Max S. Wicha, M.D., director of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“The University of Michigan has a rich tradition of research excellence that will be furthered by this new Translational Oncology Program. The program represents the best of our University’s environment, allowing for collaboration among researchers and unique educational opportunities for our biomedical research trainees,” says James O. Woolliscroft, M.D., dean of the U-M Medical School.

The Translational Oncology Program will be housed in two of the North Campus Research Complex’s 28 buildings. Some cancer investigators have already moved labs into this space, with an estimated six to 10 to be housed at NCRC by January, and an additional 20-30 within the next two years. Researchers will come from the Medical School, the College of Engineering, the School of Dentistry and the College of Pharmacy, among others.

The program will partner with the Ross School of Business and the Medical School’s Business Development team on a plan to increase interactions with industry and establish more biomedical companies designed to facilitate moving scientific discoveries into the clinic.

“The North Campus Research Complex offers a unique opportunity for researchers across campus to talk with each other and collaborate in ways they have never had before. We also offer core services that help facilitate the process of biomedical research and produce results that can be quickly translated into benefits for patients,” says Colin S. Duckett, Ph.D., director of program development at the North Campus Research Complex.

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