Celebrating 25 years as an NCI-designated cancer center

It started with notes on a napkin

Max Wicha, M.D., director of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center

Max Wicha, M.D., director of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center

The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center is celebrating 25 years as an NCI-designated cancer center. Max Wicha, M.D., the center’s founding director, reflects on the Cancer Center’s past and present in a guest post to Medicine That Speaks, a health care blog from the CEO of the University of Michigan Health System, Ora H. Pescovitz, M.D.

Read Dr. Wicha’s remarks, including how doodles on a napkin started the journey which resulted in the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center of today, one of the national leaders in research and patient care.

You can also read more about our accomplishments over the past 25 years at this commemorative timeline that starts in September 1988 when the National Cancer Institute awarded U-M a cancer center designation. This designation is given to cancer centers at universities and cancer research centers in the United States that are developing and translating scientific knowledge from promising laboratory discoveries into new treatments for cancer patients.

Do you have a story or reminiscence about patient care or research over the years at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center? Feel free to share below. Continue reading

Stand Up, on Friday, Sept. 7 at 8 PM

Why I Stand Up.

“The patient is the ultimate lab.” 

These words, spoken by the late Laura Ziskin, continue to resonate with all of us who receive funding from Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C). With these words Laura encapsulated a major challenge facing cancer researchers today: too many discoveries stay in the lab and fail to be translated into innovations in patient care.

In 2008, Laura, along with six other remarkable women from the entertainment industry, recognized this challenge and decided to tackle it head on by creating SU2C.

The funding commitments from SU2C are already having impact on moving research along. Through their Dream Team initiative, SU2C funds collaborative research that unites senior scientists across multiple institutions to rapidly advance new therapies into the clinic. Two researchers from the University of Michigan are part of SU2C Dream Teams –Dr. Arul Chinnaiyan leads the Prostate Cancer Dream Team and Cancer Center Director Dr. Max Wicha is part of the Breast Cancer Dream Team.

The second major funding commitment made by SU2C is their Innovative Research Grants Program.  With this initiative, SU2C targets investigators in earlier stages of their scientific careers and asks them to propose high-risk, high-reward research that has the potential to radically alter current thinking. Since 2009, SU2C has funded 26 Innovative Research Grants, including to two U-M scientists – me and Dr. Yali Dou, an associate professor of pathology. Continue reading

Read the latest issue of Thrive

The latest issue of Thrive, the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s patient publication, is now available online.

Check out our cover story about options available to women who would like to start a family after cancer treatment has impaired their fertility. The issue also features stories about helping children cope with their parents’ cancer diagnoses and 10 ways to make better decisions about cancer care. Our dietitians weigh in on popular supplements, and our art therapist discusses the benefits of spending time on creative projects.

Visit Thrive online at mCancer.org/thrive. Take time to browse our archive, too.

U-M and MedImmune join forces to accelerate search for new therapies

Leaders from the University of Michigan Medical School and MedImmune, the global biologics arm of AstraZeneca, have signed a new agreement to work together on a broad range of projects.

Max Wicha, M.D.

Max Wicha, M.D.

The three-year strategic collaboration will bring scientists from one of the nation’s top medical research institutions together with scientists from one of the world’s leading developers of biologic therapies.

“We are thrilled to partner with MedImmune in a collaborative and creative way to bring new innovations to market,” says Steven Kunkel, Ph.D., senior associate dean for research at the U-M Medical School and Endowed Professor of Pathology Research. “This strategic partnership, one of the first of its kind for our institution, speaks to our desire to collaborate with industry to accelerate translation of U-M’s cutting-edge research to impact patients.”

The partnership will initially focus on oncology,  leveraging the strength of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center. U-M cancer scientists, led by center director Max Wicha, M.D., have won more research grant dollars from the National Cancer Institute than researchers at any other academic medical center.

“Working with MedImmune to explore new ways to target treatments is a natural progression of the basic scientific discoveries that our teams have made in the last decade,” says Wicha, who is also the Distinguished Professor of Oncology in the Department of Internal Medicine at the U-M Medical School.

UMMS and MedImmune scientists will cooperate on studies that aim to translate scientific discoveries from the laboratory into new candidates for treating cancer as well as heart disease, digestive disease, lung disease and diseases caused by inflammation. Continue reading