UI Cancer Center, Big Ten partner to fight cancer

Dr. Howard Ozer

Dr. Howard Ozer, director of the UI Cancer Center (click on image for larger file size)

Big Ten universities may have rivalries on the field, but off it, they are teaming up to battle cancer. The University of Illinois Cancer Center has joined together with the Big Ten University Cancer Centers to form the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium, beginning June 1.

“The ability to work in partnership with all of the Big Ten cancer research centers represents a major step forward in developing personalized and targeted gene-based therapies,” said Dr. Howard Ozer, director of the UI Cancer Center and Heidrick Professor of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine.

The Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium creates a unique team-research culture in which cancer leaders will collaborate with and mentor the research leaders of tomorrow. The consortium will provide junior faculty and fellows the opportunity to write, conduct, and complete trials, which would not normally be done at a single institution or on a national level for young investigators.

The Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium will be comprised of the following universities:

  • Indiana University (Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center)
  • Northwestern University (Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center)
  • Penn State University (Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute)
  • Purdue University (Purdue University Center for Cancer Research)
  • Rutgers University (The Cancer Institute of New Jersey becomes part of Rutgers on July 1)
  • University of Illinois (University of Illinois Cancer Center)
  • University of Iowa (Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center)
  • University of Michigan (University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center)
  • University of Minnesota (Masonic Cancer Center)
  • University of Nebraska (Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center)
  • University of Wisconsin (Carbone Comprehensive Cancer Center)

The Indianapolis-based Hoosier Oncology Group will serve as the administrative headquarters for the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium.

“Working together with basic and clinical researchers from other Big Ten institutions will accelerate the discovery of novel cancer therapeutics and bring improved care to cancer patients,” said Dr. Arek Dudek, medical director of clinical trials at the UI Cancer Center and steering committee member for the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium.

The University of Illinois Cancer Center includes research collaborations at campuses in Chicago, Peoria, Rockford and Urbana; partnerships with UIC’s health sciences colleges; and integration with the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System.

The Cancer Center includes more than 250 researchers and physicians, with cancer-related research funding exceeding $59 million. Researchers are investigating carcinogenesis and chemoprevention; cancer cell signaling; cancer targets, therapeutics and imaging; and population health behavior and outcomes. The Cancer Center is tightly linked to clinical research and treatment in areas such as breast, lung, gastro-intestinal and prostate cancers.

The Big Ten Conference is an association of world-class universities whose member institutions share a common mission of research, graduate, professional and undergraduate teaching and public service.

Founded in 1896, the Big Ten has sustained a comprehensive set of shared practices and policies that enforce the priority of academics in student-athletes’ lives and emphasize the values of integrity, fairness and competitiveness.

The broad-based athletic programs of the 12 Big Ten institutions sponsor more than 300 teams competing for championships in 25 official conference sports, 12 for men and 13 for women. Big Ten universities provide in excess of $136 million in athletic scholarship aid to more than 8,200 men and women student-athletes, the most of any conference.