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NCI Renews M. D. Anderson Core Grant; Peers Bestow Outstanding Rating

Five-year, $52.7 million award supports broad array of cancer research

M. D. Anderson News Release 10/02/08

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has renewed The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center's Cancer Center Support Grant, an essential step in extending the institution's elite status as a comprehensive cancer center.

In the process, M. D. Anderson was awarded NCI's highest rating of "outstanding" during an intensive peer-review evaluation.

The five-year renewal totals $52.7 million to support 19 specific research programs and 24 shared-resource services and technologies used by M. D. Anderson researchers.

"The NCI and our peers rightly hold us to the most rigorous standards when evaluating the magnitude and quality of our research," said M. D. Anderson President John Mendelsohn, M.D. "This grant renewal is powerful recognition of M. D. Anderson's achievements and expertise in furthering our understanding of cancer and identifying more effective ways to prevent, detect and treat these diseases."

M. D. Anderson is one of three original comprehensive cancer centers designated by the NCI in 1974. There are now 41 such centers nationally. Renewal of the core research grant is the first of two steps toward renewal as a comprehensive cancer center.

The NCI requires comprehensive cancer centers to demonstrate depth and breadth in laboratory, clinical and population-based research, with substantial programs that bridge all three research areas. They also must demonstrate professional and public education and dissemination of medical and public health advances to the communities they serve.

"Cancer Center Support Grant renewal involves an extensive evaluation of the quantity and quality of our research," said Robert C. Bast Jr., M.D., vice president for translational research. The core grant award for 2008-2013 marks a 15 percent increase over the previous five-year renewal. M. D. Anderson received the highest numerical score it has ever achieved on a core grant application.

Bast and his staff organized and led M. D. Anderson's renewal application process, which began in the fall of 2006 and included submission of a 3,000-page proposal to NCI in September 2007. More than 40 scientists chosen by NCI from other institutions conducted a site visit in February to review M. D. Anderson research programs.

To evaluate the productivity of M. D. Anderson research, peer reviewers and the NCI examine a variety of quantitative and qualitative measures. For example, total research funding at M. D. Anderson increased from $210 million to $410 million between 2002 and 2006. Quality is assessed by the impact of published research and by individual scientific presentations during the site visit, to name two examples.

The core grant provides key partial funding for critical shared resources in 24 areas, including DNA analysis, genomics, tissue banking, high resolution electron microscopy, genetically engineered mice, biostatistics, pharmacology, flow cytometry and cellular imaging, nuclear magnetic resonance facility, clinical trials support and the clinical/translational research center.

These shared resources support research programs throughout the institution. Programs that were peer-reviewed in the grant include:

  • Basic science research programs in genes and development, carcinogenesis, metastasis, immunology and cell biology.
  • Clinical/translational research in brain, breast, gastrointestinal, gynecological, head and neck, lung, genitourinary and blood cancers.
  • Clinical/translational thematic research in stem cell transplantation and cell therapy, targeted therapy, and radiation oncology, physics and biology.
  • Population-based research in behavioral and health disparities, clinical cancer prevention and epidemiology.

© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center