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The Catalyst

Hollings Cancer Center receives NCI designation renewal

Staff Reports

Dr. Chrystal Paulous, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology in the College of Medicine, conducts melanoma research as a member of Hollings Cancer Center.  photo by Julia Lynn

The MUSC Hollings Cancer Center has been awarded a five-year renewal of its National Cancer Institute designation, a distinction held by only 68 cancer centers in the U.S. The Hollings Cancer Center is the only institution in South Carolina with this prestigious status.

Andrew S. Kraft, M.D., HCC director, said this renewal affirms that HCC researchers and physicians are leaders in discovering, developing and delivering cutting-edge treatments, based on laboratory research, to patients in South Carolina and beyond. The immediate benefit to patients is increased access to early clinical trials offering promising new treatments.

“This renewal confirms that MUSC researchers and clinicians are working together as a team to make advances in the war on cancer,” Kraft said. “We are grateful that this outstanding effort by so many is being recognized and supported through continued NCI Designation.”

The five-year renewal is accompanied by $7.5 million in funding to sustain and grow research efforts at MUSC. The NCI designation and renewal is based on outstanding facilities, commitment to research, leadership and vision.

Eminent Scholar Dr. Besim Ogretmen, professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, uses a pipette in his lab. Ogretmen is director of the Lipidomics Shared Resource at Hollings Cancer Center.

Since originally receiving NCI Designation in 2009, HCC has continued to grow and expand programs. The cancer center now has more than $42 million in cancer research funding and over 200 clinical trials open to patients.  Today, the HCC faculty includes 120 scientists representing more than 20 MUSC departments, with 107 team members from the College of Medicine. In the last four years, Hollings scientists published 722 articles in peer-reviewed publications.  Additionally, HCC now has an established Phase I Clinical Trials program, and accrual to therapeutic clinical trials has seen a 40 percent increase since 2009.

MUSC President David J. Cole, M.D., hailed the renewal as affirmation of the strength of the work being done at HCC: “It’s gratifying to see the Hollings Cancer Center receive renewal of our NCI designation. Hollings continues to be at the forefront of biomedical research at MUSC, and this renewal validates the significant, ongoing and dedicated effort by Hollings scientists toward advances in cancer prevention, diagnoses and treatment, with the ultimate goal of finding cancer cures.”

NCI-designated cancer centers are characterized by scientific excellence and the capability to integrate diverse research approaches that focus on cancer. They play a vital role in advancing the goal of reducing morbidity and mortality from cancer through increased clinical trials that offer patients new drugs and treatment protocols that would be unavailable to them otherwise.

When NCI Designation was initially achieved by HCC, U.S. Senator Lindsey L. Graham called the designation "a game changer for the thousands of South Carolinians with cancer,” adding, “The NCI designation only comes to the best and brightest.  It is a compliment to the men and women who put in countless hours at this facility and recognition that the Hollings Cancer Center is among the best of the best in cancer research.”

According to the NCI, designated cancer centers are a major source of discovery of the nature of cancer and the development of more effective approaches to cancer prevention, diagnosis and therapy.  They also deliver medical advances to patients and their families; educate health care prfoessionals and the public; and reach out to underserved populations. They are characterized by strong organizational capabilities, institutional commitment, and trans-disciplinary, cancer–focused science; experienced scientific and administrative leadership; and state–of–the–art cancer research and patient care facilities.

NCI designation is awarded for a five–year period, after which centers undergo an extensive renewal submission and examination.  HCC submitted its Cancer Center Support Grant renewal to NCI in 2013, underwent a three-day site visit in September and received official notification of renewal in late June.

Etta Pisano, M.D., vice president for medical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine, added, "We are very proud of our faculty and staff who serve our cancer patients and do outstanding cancer research. This renewal is a tribute to their excellence."

July 21, 2014



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