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Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Partners in Cancer Research:UCSF and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory


The UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center collaborates closely with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to leverage unique strengths at both institutions and to encompass mutual interests in cancer research and technological discovery. Collaborative opportunities extend to joint proposals for extramural funding as well as to leadership positions at the Cancer Center by LBNL investigators. The range of scientific interests represented by this relationship is extremely broad, encompassing such areas as:

Cancer Biology: immunology; systems biology; radiobiology; DNA repair; stem cell biology; cancer and the microenvironment; carcinogenesis (including response to low doses of radiation); molecular oncology; signal transduction; toxicology

Therapy: radioimmunotherapy; combinatorial chemistry; predictive markers

Computational Biology: bioinformatics; computational biology; gene ontology; network modeling; data visualization; large-scale computing

Multi-scale Imaging: cryoelectron microscopy; electron tomography; crystallography; X-ray imaging; small-angle X-ray scattering; high-resolution light microscopy; magnetic resonance imaging; positron-emission tomography

Technology: nanotechnology; pharmacokinetics; proteomic analysis; custom engineering of medical or research devices; process engineering; neutron-capture therapy; radiopharmaceutical production

Genomics: pharmacogenomics; microarray technology for DNA, RNA, and protein analysis; high-throughput DNA sequencing; diagnostics; disease susceptibility; nutrition; cancer genetics

Now in its 75th year, Berkeley Lab is the oldest of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Laboratories. It is managed by the University of California and located on a 200-acre site in the hills above the UC-Berkeley campus. From its earliest days, when Ernest O. Lawrence assembled colleagues from physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, and medicine, the lab has exemplified the value of multidisciplinary scientific teamwork.

Among the discoveries, inventions, and historic firsts in the lab’s history are milestones with enormous impact to medicine, and to cancer research:

  • Construction of a 60-inch cyclotron (1939) gave birth to the field of nuclear medicine
  • Invention of the proton linear accelerator (1946)
  • Invention of the gamma ray camera (radioisotope imaging in tissue) and the chemical laser
  • Development of the world’s highest-resolution PET scanner
  • Establishment of immortal human epithelial cell lines
  • Proposal of the extracellular matrix theory, linking breast cancer development to breakdown in the micro-environment surrounding breast cells
  • One of two DOE centers participating in the Human Genome Project
  • Bioassay identification of senescent cells within living organisms
  • Establishment in 2006 of the Molecular Foundry for the design, synthesis, and characterization of nanoscale materials

Berkeley Lab has an annual budget of $500 million and comprises a scientific and support staff of 4,000, along with 800 students and postdoctoral fellows. Some 250 LBNL scientists hold joint faculty/scientist appointments at University of California campuses. Scientific areas of relevance to cancer researchers include divisions devoted to Life Sciences, Chemical Sciences, Advanced Light Source, Computational Research, Genomics, Nuclear Science, and Physics; national user facilities at the lab include the Joint Genome Institute, the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, and the Molecular Foundry.

LBNL Life Sciences is organized into five departments (Cancer Biology, Biophysics, Functional Imaging, Genome Biology, Molecular Biology) and 11 scientific programs, focusing on Aging, Cancer, DNA Repair, Nuclear Structure and Function, Genomics, Medical Imaging, Membrane and Cytoskeletal Biology, Neuroimaging, Systems Biology, Radiation Biology, and Structural Biology. The Division comprises 58 PI-level scientists and has an annual budget of approximately $43 million, of which half comes from the NIH.

Detailed information about Berkeley Lab can be found on its website, at http://www.lbl.gov.