NIH Renews WVU Cancer Grant

$11 Million Award Strengthens Research Program

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – The National Institutes of Health announced Tuesday (Sept. 19) that it will provide nearly $11 million to West Virginia University to continue promising research at the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center.

The funds will extend the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) for Signal Transduction and Cancer led by Daniel Flynn, M.D., Ph.D.

“This is a vote of confidence in our people and our University,” said John E. Prescott, M.D., dean of the WVU School of Medicine and interim director of the Cancer Center. “Dr. Flynn and his colleagues are contributing substantially to scientific knowledge, and directly to the study of cancers that affect people in our state.”

The COBRE was originally funded in 2001. Renewal funding means that the existing lines of research will continue, and WVU will be able to recruit several new scientists and provide them with laboratory space and other research facilities.

“Cancer disproportionately affects the citizens of West Virginia and Appalachia, as evidenced by regional health disparities in cervical, lung, head and neck, ovarian, and breast cancers,” Flynn said. “The Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center was established to address the cancer problem in West Virginia and Appalachia. We can lead the fight against cancer with strong basic and clinical research programs; an active cancer prevention and control program; and an active clinical trials program.”

"The medical experts at the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center are committed to a single goal: finding a cure for cancer. Their work at identifying cancer tumors at such an early stage makes treatment far more successful, and could signal a way to prevent the disease in the years ahead," explained Senator Robert C. Byrd. D-W.Va. "We are seeing progress everyday in the fight against cancer, but we have much work still ahead of us."

Because of Byrd’s work on the federal level, funding for the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, and the Centers for Disease Control have been on the rise. The grant award to WVU is a result of that effort.

During the first phase of research, Flynn and his colleagues established a proteomics laboratory at WVU that enables scientists to analyze the array of proteins expressed in normal tissue and compare it to cancerous tissue. 

Using the results of that work, entrepreneur Steven Turner established Protea Biosciences, West Virginia’s first biotech industry, in Morgantown.

Researchers supported by the COBRE have determined how tumors are able to develop blood vessels that promote tumor growth, and have also focused on determining how cell signals promote tumor growth. The research team has generated an additional $10.8 million in competitive external funding since it was established.

- WVU -

For more information:
Steve Bovino, HSC News Service, (304) 293-7087

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