The Joe Moakley Leukemia SPORE

The goal of the Joe Moakley Leukemia SPORE (Specialized Program of Research Excellence) is to develop therapies that improve prognosis in leukemia. The Leukemia SPORE will serve as a vehicle for integration of innovative translational studies that bridge laboratory, epidemiologic and clinical research. For this purpose, we have included a group of dedicated leukemia researchers with outstanding track records in leukemia research who will collaborate to accomplish our goals. The ultimate goal is to cure all leukemias through this long-term integrated approach.

Importance of Research in Leukemia

Leukemias are a heterogeneous group of hematologic disorders encompassing acute myelogenous and lymphoid (AML, ALL) and chronic myelogenous and lymphoid (CML, CLL) leukemias, as well as closely related disorders such as myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and lymphoproliferative disorders (hairy cell leukemia, mantle cell leukemia, others). A sizable number of people in the United States and worldwide are affected annually, who could be helped significantly from the research and progress to be made through the research proposed in this Leukemia SPORE.

What is SPORE?

SPORE stands for Specialized Program of Research Excellence. Funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) with a $12.75 million grant, the program is part of a nationwide initiative to speed the flow of promising knowledge from the laboratory to the clinic, where it will benefit patients the most. This SPORE will enhance MD Anderson's ongoing efforts to develop new, better treatments and therapies for leukemia, and to understand the biological basis of clinical observations. MD Anderson also has SPORE grants to study bladder, brain, head & neck, lymphoma, melanoma, multiple myeloma, uterine, prostate, lung and ovarian cancer.

Joe Moakley Research Excellence Program

The Hematological Cancer Research Investment and Education Act, S 1094, sponsored by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), was signed into law by President George W. Bush on May 14, 2002. It called for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to establish the Joe Moakley Research Excellence Program as a coordinated blood cancer research initiative. The Leukemia SPORE awarded to MD Anderson was named for Joe Moakley, former Congressman from Massachusetts who died in 2001 of leukemia.  

In FY 2003, overall blood cancer spending was increased from $295 million to $322 million. The law authorized money for the Geraldine Ferraro Cancer Education Program to provide blood cancer education and information to patients and the public. The program was not appropriated money in FY 2003. The Senate appropriations bill for FY 2004 appropriates $5 million for the education program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Leukemia SPORE Program

We have assembled talented clinical and fundamental research scientists who are dedicated to translational (bench-to-bedside) research in leukemia. This SPORE consists of:

  • four major research projects, which focus on multidisciplinary studies targeting innovative translational studies
  • a career development program, which will train physicians and scientists to create research projects that lead quickly to new therapies
  • a developmental research program, designed to support promising pilot studies for leukemia
  • three "core" entities (administrative, pathology and biostatistics), which will support the research projects

By promoting new collaborations and extending existing ones with established leukemia SPOREs across the country, the MD Anderson Leukemia SPORE aims to develop new and effective strategies to treat leukemia. Our common hope is to reduce cancer incidence and mortality, improve the quality of life for cancer patients and, ultimately, to conquer this disease.

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