Six of the 19 IUPUI Signature Centers to Impact Cancer Research Efforts on Campus
Six of the 19 centers chosen by IUPUI Executive Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Faculties Uday Sukhatme to be funded under the $7 million Signature Center initiative involve 20 Indiana University Cancer Center members and will build on current or result in future cancer research efforts on campus. Each center was funded with up to $300,000 for a three-year period.
“We are thrilled that so many of the signatures selected for funding focus on topics highly relevant to cancer research and care. The diversity of the activities of these centers reflects the outstanding capabilities of the membership of the IU Cancer Center,” says Stephen D. Williams, M.D., associate dean of cancer research and cancer center director.
Cellular Therapy, Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Center, led by cancer center member Sherif Farag, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., will draw on the unique expertise in hematopoiesis, immunology, gene therapy, graft engineering, and clinical hematopoietic stem cell transplantation available at Indiana University Cancer Center to develop a nationally and internationally visible program focused on the development of novel cellular therapies for cancer. The scholars in the center envision an interdisciplinary approach that brings together the collaboration of basic and clinical scientists at the cancer center, focused on translating discoveries from bench-to-clinic through phase I and early phase II clinical trials. Dr. Farag is also director of the cancer center’s Hematologic Malignancies and Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant Program. Co-investigators include cancer center members Hal Broxmeyer, Ph.D., Angelo Cardoso, M.D., Ph.D., Kenneth Cornetta, M.D., Mary Dinauer, M.D., Ph.D., and Christopher Touloukian, M.D.
Center for Cancer, Genetics and the Environment will develop a world-class research program that provides a core faculty of epidemiologists who can capitalize on the campus existing strengths in environmental health and medical genetics. The center came about from ongoing discussion between the Indiana University Cancer Center and the Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics. Faculty has identified an opportunity to build a unique program that can leverage the strengths of existing research efforts into an independent, interactive research center with the goal of understanding how genetic and environmental factors interact to cause human cancer. This center will serve as the focal point to enhance the interaction of existing programs in the Center for Environmental Health, the Indiana University Cancer Center and the Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics. Cancer center co-investigators include Associate Director of Strategic Partnerships James Klaunig, Ph.D. and Drs. Cornetta and Williams.
Center for Assessing, Understanding and Managing Pain, led by cancer center member Kurt Kroenke, M.D., will enhance pain research, foster a culture of interaction, and promote collaboration among researchers across several IUPUI schools and existing centers to stimulate new approaches to address pain. To this end, the center’s goals include: to develop a comprehensive pain research agenda that brings our findings to the clinic or bedside as quickly as possible; to increase visibility for pain research within the IUPUI campus and broader community of scientists, clinicians, policy makers, and patient advocacy groups; and to create key partnerships between other academic institutions, professional organizations, and private industry to share resources and create research synergy. Co-investigators include cancer center members Silvia Bigatti, Ph.D., Cynthia Hingtgen, M.D., and Daniel Rushing, M.D.
Center for Computational Diagnostics’ innovative research includes the integration of high throughput technology into clinical trials to improve early detection, treatment, and monitoring of diseases in children and adults. Building on the Regenstrief Institute and leveraging the diverse strengths of IUPUI, the IU School of Medicine, and Purdue, this center, led by cancer center member Susanne Ragg, M.D., Ph.D., will bring “data and minds together.” It will integrate data and create project-specific multidisciplinary teams to work with these data, achieving progress in both basic and clinical research that is increasingly difficult to achieve by individual investigator-driven research teams. Cancer center member Günther Schadow, M.D., PhD, is co-investigator.
Center for Regenerative Biology and Medicine has three missions: multidisciplinary research aimed at understanding how to regenerate tissues, organs and appendages damaged by injury or disease; advanced academic training in regenerative biology and medicine leading to the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees; and technology transfer. The unique feature of this center led by Principal Investigator David Stocum, Ph.D., professor of biology, is that it is the only such multidisciplinary center in the world to include amphibians as research models to understand regenerative mechanisms. Co-investigators include cancer center members Pamela Crowell, Ph.D., Eric Long, Ph.D., Christine Orschell, Ph.D., and Mu Wang, Ph.D.
Tobacco Cessation and Biobehavioral Center, directed by Jack Windsor, Ph.D., associate professor of oral biology, will bring researchers together from different disciplines to better understand the mechanisms and biology of the effects of tobacco use, as well its control, prevention, and cessation. The research of the center will encompass multiple disciplines involving basic tobacco-related biological research, behavioral research, civic engagement, and teaching and learning. The center will also focus on ways to eliminate or reduce minority health disparities related to tobacco use in order to prevent and reduce the use of tobacco by minorities, low-income individuals, the chemically addicted, pregnant women, children, youth, and other at-risk populations with tobacco-related health issues. Cancer center co-investigators include Dr. Klaunig, Anna McDaniel, D.N.S., and Martin L. Smith, Ph.D.
“The fact that so many of the centers have a cancer focus speaks to the strength of the cancer center within IUPUI. The highlighting of these centers and their areas of research will further help the development of collaborations,” remarked Christopher Sweeney, M.B.B.S., the cancer center’s associate director for clinical research. “The IUPUI leadership is to be congratulated on such a unique and effective program.”
This initiative is intended to take IUPUI’s research effort to a much higher level by helping to create a significant number of distinctly identifiable research units or signature centers. A signature center is a research unit distinctly identifiable with IUPUI. In addition to representing an area of research strength, signature centers will often be interdisciplinary in character, have the capacity to attract significant external funding, bring academic distinction to the campus, focus on work that is unique and distinctive and collaborate with other institutions.
A total of 71 proposals were submitted for review. They were judged on academic merit and the above described criteria for determining whether a proposal had the potential to reach Signature Center status. Other aspects, such as the scholarly track records of the faculty investigators and the planned use of budget, were also taken into consideration.
More information about the IUPUI Signature Centers