October 28, 2010

Cancer Center lands major NCI grant renewal

Cancer Center lands major NCI grant renewal

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center has been awarded a five-year renewal of its Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG) from the National Cancer Institute.

Under the NCI's Cancer Center Support Grant Program, VICC will receive more than $6.2 million per year for the next five years. The total represents a 12.7 percent increase over the previous award.

The CCSG is an institutional grant designed to provide operational stability for shared resources used by investigators throughout VICC for innovative cancer research.

Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D.

Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D.

The grant supports direct costs for cancer research, as well as indirect costs needed for Cancer Center facilities and administration.

This is the third renewal of the CCSG grant for VICC, which is an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“The national review team from the NCI rated VICC outstanding or exceptional in nearly every program category, which is a validation of the superior work being done by the researchers, clinicians and staff members at our nationally-recognized cancer center,” said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.

“VICC received one of the highest scores in the nation in recognition of Vanderbilt's strength in basic science research, and the ability of our investigators to build on that strength as they search for new cancer treatments.”

Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., B.F. Byrd Jr. Professor of Oncology and director of VICC, received the highest score possible for her leadership of the Cancer Center.

Pietenpol, who also oversees a laboratory research program focused on breast cancer research, was named VICC director in 2008.

“The successful renewal of our CCSG grant represents true teamwork and is a reflection of the collaborative spirit throughout the institution. I thank all of the senior leadership and administrative staff in the VICC for months of hard work and attention to detail,” said Pietenpol.

“The NCI recognized our team's unwavering dedication to excellence in translational research, which is designed to bring discoveries from our research programs to the patients in the clinic.

“We have some of the most talented cancer researchers and clinicians in the country working here and the renewal of this award is a wonderful validation of their efforts to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients,” Pietenpol said.

She noted that the 12.7 percent increase in the size of the grant award is particularly noteworthy during a time when the federal cancer research budget has been flat or decreasing.

The Cancer Center launched in 1993, under the direction of Harold L. (Hal) Moses, M.D., Hortense B. Ingram Professor of Molecular Oncology, who remains Director Emeritus.

As a matrix cancer center, VICC enjoys support from and shares faculty members with several University and Medical Center departments, as well with Meharry Medical College.

The new Cancer Center received its first CCSG award from NCI in 1995, with re-competition in 1999.

The center was renamed following a major donation from the Ingram family of Nashville.

In 2001, the NCI designated the Vanderbilt cancer program a Comprehensive Cancer Center and it remains one of only 40 such centers in the country.

VICC is one of the few centers in the United States with three NCI-designated Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant programs for breast, lung and gastrointestinal cancers.

Since the last renewal of the CCSG grant, VICC has been on a fast growth trajectory. Sixty-six new recruits have joined the center and there has been a 107 percent increase in lab space and a 91 percent increase in clinical space.

During the same time period, VICC has received a 46 percent increase in peer-reviewed funding and a 62 percent increase in NCI funding, with significant additional philanthropic support.