December 21, 2009

UNM Cancer Center Receives $3.2 Million in Stimulus Funds from Congress


The University of New Mexico Cancer Center, the Official Cancer Center of the State of New Mexico based on the UNM campus in Albuquerque, has been awarded $3,254,682 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) as part of the economic stimulus package enacted by the United States Congress in February 2009. The ARRA awards include funds for new research, new equipment, new positions and supplemental programs.

“The UNM Cancer Center is honored to be recognized by the ARRA and awarded grants that provide funding for vital programs to benefit cancer patients and residents of New Mexico,” said Dr. Cheryl Willman, Director and CEO of the UNM Cancer Center. “The awards will allow the UNM Cancer Center to hire additional researchers and procure equipment critical to cancer research and treatment. This funding is a crucial part of the federal economic stimulus package and shows that government money is at work in New Mexico.”

The UNM Cancer Center was awarded funding for nine programs, including:

ARRA Award for Recruitment of New Faculty ($1,264,145)
Dr. Cheryl Willman received ARRA supplemental funding for recruitment of new faculty into National Cancer Institute (NCI)-Designated Cancer Centers and Minority-Serving Institutions. The UNM Cancer Center will work to recruit academic physician scientists who have training in both laboratory research and clinical investigation to accelerate the progress of research programs and the translation of science to early phase clinical trials.

ARRA Award for Administrative Supplements ($278,627)
Dr. Cheryl Willman received an ARRA administrative supplement. The grant will provide funds for Investigator-Initiated Clinical Trials to provide critical support to a research nurse, data manager and regulatory coordinator. Also, the grant will direct project funds to UNM Cancer Center investigators and supply equipment for the UNM Cancer Center Microscopy and Cell Imaging Shared Resource.

ARRA Funding for New ADOPT Program ($50,168)
Dr. Cheryl Willman received ARRA supplemental funding available to NCI-Designated Comprehensive Care Centers to participate in the new Adoption of New Technologies for Remote Data Capture and Protocol Authoring (ADOPT) initiative. The program is intended to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the clinical trials process and reduce clinical cancer trial costs.

ARRA Funding for Transposase Protein Metnase in Leukemic Decatenation ($168,000)
Dr. Robert Hromas has been awarded funding for Transpoase Metnase in Leukemic Decatenation. The program will assist in hiring a post-doctoral fellow to further enhance research in the decatenation ability of metnase that is down regulated by auto-methylation. The grant will provide funding for a previous study from the National Institute of Health (NIH) that had been reduced from the original five years to four years. An additional year will enhance research capabilities in finding better methods for treatment of bladder and lung cancers.

ARRA Funding for Solar Exposure and Melanoma Survival ($147,045)
Dr. Marianne Berwick received NIH ARRA funding for Solar Exposure and Melanoma Survival. The award will support an existing program and case-control melanoma study led by Berwick. The study is designed to aid in understanding melanoma genetics because additional genotyping may shed light on melanoma incidence, progression and survival.

ARRA Supported NCI Clinical Team Leadership Award ($100,000)
Dr. Melanie Royce received the NCI Clinical Team Leadership Award. Only 11 physicians from the 65 NCI-Designated Cancer Centers won this award. The awards ultimately support a shared culture in which investigators collaborate across disciplines, institutions and programs to advance the design and conduct of cancer center trials.

ARRA Funding for Researching Discrepancies in Cancer Clinical Trials ($317,201)
Dr. Claire Verschraegen has been awarded supplemental ARRA funding to hire a researcher who will recruit minority patients to cancer clinical trials. The New Mexico Minority-Based Community Oncology Program’s (NM MBCCOP) mission is to build community capacity for clinical research through cancer education and outreach programs and overcome significant socioeconomic and cultural barriers to increase access and accrual to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

ARRA Funding for a Confocal Stereology Microscope for UNM’s Fluorescence Microscopy Core ($312,322)
Dr. Angela Wandinger-Ness has been awarded funding for a Confocal Stereology Microscope for UNM’s Fluorescence Microscopy Core. The spinning disk non-laser confocal with sterology instrumentation from Microbrightfield and microscope by Olympus will assist the Pathology Department Laboratory to enhance its research efforts.

ARRA Funding for Transposase Protein Metnase in Etoposide Resistance ($617,174)
Dr. Robert Hromas has been awarded funding for Transposase Protein Metnase in Etoposide Resistance. This grant will allow Dr. Hromas and his investigators to research the mechanism by which Metnase mediates resistance to the cancer drug etoposide, which could allow the generation of drugs targeting Metnase, thereby improving the response of cancer patients to etoposide. This research could also shed information on whether Metnase levels can predict which patients respond to etoposide.

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. Link

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