Arnold scientists part of
team awarded $10.7 million grant to develop colorectal cancer research
scientists from the Arnold School of Public Health are part of a USC
team that has received a $10.7 million, five-year grant from the
National Institutes of Health to continue building a comprehensive
research center for colorectal cancer, which claims the lives of nearly
900 South Carolinians annually.
The researchers are
associated with the university's
Center for Colon Cancer Research (CCCR), which
was established in 2002 with an $11.2 million grant from the NIH.
In the last five
years, the center has grown from18 to nearly 30 biomedical scientists,
all of whom are concentrating their efforts on the cause, prevention and
treatment of colorectal cancer. The combined grants, which total nearly
$22 million, are among the largest in the university's history.
The Arnold School
researchers working with the center are:
James Hebert, director, South Carolina Statewide Cancer Prevention
and Control Program; professor, Department of Epidemiology and
James B. Burch, assistant professor, Department of Epidemiology and
James A. Carson, associate professor, Department of Exercise
Tom Hurley, senior biostatistician, Department of Epidemiology and
Biostatistics; manager, Diet Assessment Unit, South Carolina Statewide
Cancer Prevention and Control Program.
Dr. Frank Berger, the
CCCR director and the lead researcher on both grants, said the new
funding will enable the university to support the research of promising
young scientists, as it did with the first grant, and to build a
nationally competitive research center.
"This award is
significant because it brings together scientists from disciplines as
varied as biology, pharmacy, public health and medicine to solve the
mysteries of a cancer that kills far too many people in our state and
nation," Berger said. "It also recognizes the strong collaboration that
has developed over the past five years between senior and junior
investigators at the University of South Carolina."
Society statistics show that colorectal cancer is the third most common
cancer among men and women and the second most common cause of U.S.
cancer deaths. About 150,000 new cases and 56,000 deaths occur annually
in the nation, and approximately 2,400 new cases are diagnosed in South
Carolina each year.
Andrew Sorensen said the grant underscores the reputation of Carolina's
"The initial grant was
awarded because the university was viewed as a major research
institution capable of attracting top scientists in their fields," he
"Not only have our
researchers proved their ability to develop a quality colorectal cancer
research program, but they also are proving their success to compete
with their peers at top institutions for NIH funding, which is
increasingly competitive," Sorensen said.
Since 2002, individual
CCCR researchers have garnered nearly $20 million in grants and have
published more than 300 articles in prestigious peer-reviewed journals.
Their studies are examining the origin and development of cancer tumors,
how DNA can repair itself to prevent tumor formation, the role of
inflammation in colorectal cancer, anti-cancer drugs and new methods of
screening and diagnosis.
The CCCR also has
developed a strong outreach program that is uniting scientists,
physicians, community health groups and healthcare professionals
throughout the state to increase general awareness and knowledge about
the benefits of colorectal cancer screening.
"We have created an
environment in which academic discovery flourishes and is shared with a
larger community interested in the prevention and treatment of this
deadly disease," Berger said.
The success of the
CCCR is being seen beyond South Carolina, said Dr. Russell Pate,
associate vice president for health sciences and a professor in the
Arnold School’s Department of Exercise Science.
"The awarding of these
two major grants, coupled with funding to individual researchers,
underscores the national reputation that the University of South
Carolina has earned," Pate said. "The team at the CCCR already is making
a difference in the lives of many people in South Carolina, but its
impact extends far beyond the Palmetto State."