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Annual Report - Winter 2012

New research facilities move patients closer to promising therapies


By Jacqueline Mason

Advances in cancer detection and treatment will materialize rapidly in the coming decade thanks to the convergence of genome analysis, advanced imaging and the development of targeted therapies at MD Anderson’s South Campus Research Buildings III and IV.

The new facilities added more than 500,000 gross square feet of research and support space to the South Campus complex in 2010-2011. And they brought together, under one roof, key investigational departments, including Imaging Physics, Experimental Diagnostic Imaging and Experimental Therapeutics.

John Hazle, Ph.D., believes that new technologies, like this
3 T MR scanner, will better evaluate patients' responses to
therapy and speed the delivery of advanced cancer 
treatments.
Photo: John Everett

John D. Hazle, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Imaging Physics, believes research collaborations will speed the delivery of advanced cancer treatments.

“Many of the new imaging techniques and technologies we develop are designed to better evaluate responses to therapy,” he explains.

“Being close to and interacting with the people developing the therapies will be an advantage as we move forward in research related to new therapeutics. We hope we can provide quantitative information about whether a therapy is working — is the therapy impacting a certain pathway or characteristic of cancer — either completely, non-invasively with image alone or by less invasive image-guided biopsies.”

To detect cancer at its earliest stages

Imaging research at South Campus Research Building III will also help identify new biological targets using tracers or contrast agents that help detect cancer in its earliest stages as well as enhance the imaging of therapeutic response.

The equipment forms the basis of the first-floor translational imaging core and includes a 3 T MR scanner, PET/CT scanner, dual-energy CT scanner and a cyclotron to explore extended-life isotopic tracers.

Wide-open laboratories

South Campus Research Building IV distinguishes itself with highly versatile wet and dry laboratories for drug discovery and related studies by the Center for Targeted Therapy and Institute for Applied Cancer Science.

“Open lab space is conducive to collaboration,” says Kim Dulski, a former researcher who now designs laboratories as director in Research and Education Facilities in the Division of Operations and Facilities Management. “When a researcher expands his or her research, we can quickly reconfigure space.”

Faculty, junior researchers and educational fellows also find collaborative areas in the facility’s small-group study carrels, distance learning and teleconferencing rooms, and three 60-seat conference centers.

These collaborations will help bring translational research in promising therapies to patients more effectively, Dulski says. “We’re doing everything in our design to advance science, to make collaborations count, and to facilitate the meeting of the best and the brightest.”

Resources: Cancer Research

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