October 8, 2009

National Cancer Institute Honors Dr. Melanie Royce, Breast Cancer Oncologist and Researcher at the UNM Cancer Center


Dr. Melanie Royce, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine at the UNM School of Medicine and breast cancer oncologist within the UNM Cancer Center, has recently been recognized by the National Cancer Institute for her outstanding contributions to and leadership in the field of clinical breast cancer research. Royce is one of only 11 physicians nationally to receive the prestigious NCI Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award, which is a program launched earlier this year by the NCI through the Coordinating Center for Clinical Trials. The program’s goal is to support and recognize exceptional clinical investigators whose work fosters successful clinical research programs at NCI Cancer Centers.

“This intensely competitive award was supported by ARRA funds and provides funding for Dr. Royce and her team to drive cancer clinical trials,” said Dr. Cheryl Willman, Director and CEO of the UNM Cancer Center. “This is a very prestigious honor, and we are pleased that Dr. Royce is being recognized at a national level for her intense dedication and hard work, particularly for women in New Mexico and across the nation affected by breast cancer.”

The award, which provides Royce with $50,000 per year for the next two years, will support her efforts in developing and overseeing breast cancer clinical trials. The program offers a new funding source for physicians who are leading NCI-sponsored clinical trials, but who are not principal investigators – a group that is often overlooked by traditional funding mechanisms.

“This is a great honor, and we are thrilled by the support and recognition,” said Royce, Director of the Multidisciplinary Breast Cancer Program at the UNM Cancer Center. “We are so pleased to do this work for the women of New Mexico and others who come to the UNM Cancer Center. This award will allow us to further advance our understanding of this terrible disease, which hits New Mexico’s multiethnic populations particularly hard.”

The NCI hopes to expand the award program in 2010, as a result of the high volume of award applications received this year. Other awardees are from Vanderbilt University, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Ohio State University, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, University of Colorado Cancer Center, the Mayo Clinic, Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University, Hollings Cancer Center and Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

The UNM Cancer Center is the Official Cancer Center of the State of New Mexico, and one of only 65 National Cancer Institute designated cancer centers in the nation. It is home to 85 board-certified oncology physicians representing every cancer specialty and more than 120 research scientists hailing from such prestigious institutions as M.D. Anderson, Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic.

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