The Women's Cancers Research Program at the University of New Mexico Cancer Center is a highly interactive, transdisplinary research program that brings together outstanding basic, translational, clinical and population scientists who are focused on cancers affecting women and on hormone-responsive cancers and signaling pathways. The 26 Program Members come from 6 Departments in the UNM School of Medicine (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Physiology, Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pathology, and Surgery), the College of Pharmacy, Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico State University Department, and Senior Scientific Corporation. The new leaders of the program, Eric Prossnitz PhD (an expert biochemist and cell biologist focused on steroid hormone receptors and signaling pathways) and Michelle Ozbun PhD (an expert on HPV infection, tissue cultivation, and cervical cancer) have done an outstanding job in integrating the program's strengths and developing strategic directions for the future. The Program has four primary areas of tumor-focused investigation of historic strength at the UNM Cancer Center: breast, endometrial, ovarian, and cervical cancer. These four cancers are highly prevalent, and in many instances increasing in prevalence, in New Mexico's multiethnic population. The Scientific Goals of the Program are: (1) to dissect signaling pathways in hormone-responsive cancers leading to the identification of novel targets and treatment modalities; (2) to develop novel screening and imaging approaches to enhance detection,prognostication,and prevention of women's and hormone-responsive cancers; and (3) to translate basic science discoveries to clinical application and novel clinical trials and to the community to reduce the mortality and disparities in these cancers. Since the prior NCI CCSG review in 2005, the Program's funding, intra-programmatic and inter-programmatic interactions, and clinical trials accrual have all increased dramatically. From 2005-2008, members of the program published 60 manuscripts per year on average, of which 21% were intra-programmatic and 25% were inter-programmatic; in the last reporting period, 2008, these rates were 17% and 35% respectively. As of September 2009, Program Members held $6,861,676 in total annual direct funding (representing a 60% increase in funding since 2005), $5,663,309 in peerreviewed funding (representing a 156% increase since 2005), and $2,193,370 in NCI funding (a 108% increase or a doubling since 2005). With significant collaborations with each of the other UNM Cancer Center Research Programs, members of the Women's Cancers Program are internationally know for their innovative accomplishments, including studies of the natural history of HPV infections in multiethnic populations and the successful introduction of a HPV vaccine which led to one of the nation's preeminent Interdisciplinary HPV Prevention Centers (U19AI084081); identification and characterization of the biologic function and clinical significance of a novel G-protein coupled estrogen receptor (GPR30) in endometrial, ovarian and breast cancer as well as the development of receptor-specific agonists and antagonists and imaging agents in collaboration with The UNM Center for Moiecuiar Discovery; identification of GTPase modulators as potential novel therapeutics; and the development of novel maging modalities including SQUID, MRSI, MRI and light scatter. Members of the Program have been National Principal Investigators on investigator-initiated clinical trials through the Southwest Oncology Group and the Gynecologic Oncology Group. Program members are Principal Investigators on 13 active and 5 pending investigator-initiated clinical trials and they participate in 27 therapeutic trials, and 14 non-interventional clinical trials with a total accrual of 2223 to clinical trials in 2008. In the past 12 month period, 33% of new patients seen at the UNM Cancer Center and treated by the Multidisciplinary Clinical Working Groups (Breast / Gynecologic Malignancies) affiliated with the Program were accrued to therapeutic or intervention trials, with 736 total accruals of which 114 were therapeutic trial accruals.
The Women's Cancers Research Program brings together a talented group of laboratory and clinical scientists to investigate the etiology, subsequent behavior, and diagnosis and treatment of cancers specific to women. This collaborative group of scientists seeks to translate laboratory discoveries, as well as behavioral and epdeimiologic findings, into new methods of prevention and treatment for the multiethnic populations of New Mexico.
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