N.C. General Assembly Establishes University Cancer Research Fund

The N.C. General Assembly has created the state’s first University Cancer Research Fund with the passage of the new state budget. The fund, established to accelerate cancer research at UNC’s School of Medicine and the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, will provide $25 million in 2007-08 and is slated to increase to $50 million a year beginning in 2009.

With this new funding, the UNC School of Medicine and Lineberger are poised to continue their international leadership in cancer research, officials said. The research funding will serve to improve the quality of life and treatment of cancer patients nationwide and enhance UNC’s access to science and technology. It also will increase Lineberger’s ability to discover and disseminate knowledge across the spectrum of cancer research, and make real improvements in prevention, early detection and therapies that will benefit all patients.

Dr. William L. Roper, dean of the School of Medicine and CEO of the UNC Health Care System, said this “groundbreaking funding … will allow our University’s great researchers to make significant advancements against a disease that has touched the lives of nearly everyone.

“At UNC alone, we saw 15,000 cancer patients last year, representing every one of our state’s 100 counties,” Roper said. “We want to lead the way in combating cancer at home and around the world. As one of only a few states with a dedicated comprehensive cancer research fund, I am confident that our institution will excel in developing novel and more individualized regimens of care for cancer patients,” he said.

The fund will enable interdisciplinary research in three major areas by creating a statewide cancer assessment and prevention program, continuing to undertake groundbreaking basic and translational research, and enhancing multidisciplinary clinical care and research teams.

“With the support of the General Assembly for construction of the North Carolina Cancer Hospital in 2004, and now this extraordinary cancer research fund, UNC has been provided an opportunity and a challenge — to become the nation’s best university cancer center,” said Dr. Shelley Earp ’70 (MD), director of UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“We must and will develop pathways to move prevention, early detection and therapeutic research into the clinic and the community, the outcome of which will be improved cancer care, grounded in the latest research findings,” Earp said.

“The National Cancer Institute is extremely gratified to learn of the General Assembly’s commitment to making a difference in the lives of those afflicted with cancer. UNC Lineberger is one of the outstanding cancer centers supported by NCI that conduct groundbreaking clinical research and provide state-of-the-art cancer care,” said NCI Director Dr. John E. Niederhuber. “Having the state government make a long-term investment in decreasing the burden of cancer and, ultimately, the burden of cancer health care costs, is truly visionary.”

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