University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

Brain Cancer Linked to Inherited Genetic Risk

July 6, 2009

UCSF scientists have discovered commonly inherited genetic risks for the deadliest types of brain tumors, marking the first time such a link has been definitively established. At least 20 percent of these advanced brain cancers may be attributable to the newly discovered genetic risks, according ...

Study Identifies How Tamoxifen Stimulates Uterine Cell Growth and Cancer

July 3, 2009

UCSF researchers have identified a new "feed-forward" pathway linking estrogen receptors in the membrane of the uterus to a process that increases local estrogen levels and promotes cell growth. The research is significant in helping determine why tamoxifen and other synthetic estrogens are linked to ...

Even in Weak Economy, Business Is Booming at UCSF Biotech Incubator

July 2, 2009

With San Francisco's office leasing market in the doldrums and availability up nearly 20 percent from last year, many property managers are doing whatever they can to entice new tenants. UCSF's Douglas Crawford, PhD, has the opposite problem. "We're chock-full, and my phone keeps ringing," ...

GI Oncology Group Honored for Outstanding Patient Care

July 1, 2009

Members of UCSF's Gastrointestinal (GI) Oncology group are the inaugural recipients of the Helen Diller Family Quality Award, an honor that recognizes exceptional commitment to providing superior patient care. The group, led by gastrointestinal cancer expert Alan Venook, MD, was named the top performer in ...

New Biomarker Method Could Increase the Number of Diagnostic Tests for Cancer

June 30, 2009

A team of researchers, including several from UCSF, has demonstrated that a new method for detecting and quantifying protein biomarkers in body fluids may ultimately make it possible to screen multiple biomarkers in hundreds of patient samples, thus ensuring that only the strongest biomarker candidates ...

Mercy Medical Center and UCSF Collaborate to Improve Cancer Care

June 27, 2009

RELEASED JOINTLY BY MERCY MEDICAL CENTER AND UCSF MEDICAL CENTER Mercy Medical Center Redding in Redding, Calif., and UCSF Medical Center have signed a letter of intent formalizing a collaboration that aims to improve cancer-related care for Mercy's patient population in the far northern region ...

Prostate Cancer Test Improves Prediction of Disease Course

June 12, 2009

A new prostate cancer risk assessment test, developed by a UCSF team, gives patients and their doctors a better way of gauging long-term risks and pinpointing high risk cases. According to UCSF study findings, published this week, the test proved accurate in predicting bone metastasis, ...

New Breast Cancer Treatments May Stem from $16.5 Million Award

June 9, 2009

A UCSF research pioneer in breast cancer - a disease that still kills about 40,000 US women each year - will co-lead a new, $16.5 million effort to develop more effective, targeted therapies to vanquish various types of breast tumors, including cancers that are particularly ...

Quest to Conquer Cancer Continues in New Research Building at Mission Bay

June 3, 2009

More information about the opening of the Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building is available here. Hundreds turned out at UCSF Mission Bay on Tuesday for the opening of the Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building, a $135 million facility where scientists are working to conquer cancer. "This is a great moment for UCSF and for the City of San Francisco and above all else for cancer research and cancer patients," said UCSF Chancellor Mike Bishop, MD. Bishop, who will step down as chancellor this summer, marveled at the manifestation of UCSF Mission Bay, the largest academic development project in the United States and a magnet to a thriving life sciences and biotech sector in San Francisco. Bishop noted that the cancer research building was but a gleam in the eye of a few when he took the helm of UCSF 11 years ago. Although told that there was no room at UCSF Mount Zion, where another cancer research building and clinics are clustered, and no money for the project, the vision of campus leaders and the generosity of supporters prevailed. "Along came a small group of angels," Bishop said, referring to Helen and Sanford Diller and their family, who were among the project's 300 donors. The Dillers' daughter, Jackie Safier, said the family is "very excited about the building and the spirit of collaboration in which it was designed." She joined her husband, Dan, and their children, Josh and Lauren, on stage for the ribbon cutting ceremony. In a keynote address at Tuesday's opening event, J. Craig Venter, PhD, who pioneered the Human Genome project, said the future of cancer research and treatment will be determined in places like the Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building. "It sounds like science fiction scenarios," he said of some of the latest innovations in the field, "but it all has come from simple ideas in labs that turned into breakthroughs. Good environments have a huge impact on how science is conducted." The standing-room only audience for the afternoon address and panel discussion spilled onto the building's balconies and main staircases, while others watched via live webcast or followed the day's events on Twitter. Many toured the five-story research building, designed by award-winning architect Rafael Vinoly. Frank McCormick, PhD, director of the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, reflected on the occasion, saying that just a decade ago UCSF was applying for national designation; today it ranks sixth nationwide in National Cancer Institute research grants. "The quest to conquer cancer will be even more possible given the proximity of the basic scientists with their colleagues in clinical care," noted McCormick, referring to the effort to build a new medical center at Mission Bay.

Goal of Personalized Medicine for Cancer Goes Mainstream

June 3, 2009

More information about the opening of the Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building is available here. Four experts discussed progress, hopes and challenges related to personalized cancer treatment Tuesday at UCSF's new Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building on the Mission Bay campus. J. Craig Venter, PhD, a human genome pioneer; Brook Byers, a leading biotech venture capitalist; Frank McCormick, PhD, FRS, the director of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer; and Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, the former head of product development at Genentech and UCSF chancellor-elect, participated in a panel discussion as part of the celebration of the opening of the building, dedicated entirely to cancer research. Among the challenges discussed: How can researchers obtain and analyze the massive amount of human DNA needed to develop the knowledge base that will support the development of a new, more potent, and better targeted drug armamentarium? What can be learned from the abnormalities within the tumor in comparison to what can be learned about the normal human genetic variations carried by the person in whom the tumor has arisen? What are the business, regulatory and reimbursement model for new treatments -- and new diagnostics? Can the cost of bringing personalized medicine to the drug marketplace be reduced? It used to be that large pharmaceutical firms swung for the fences, trying to find a cancer drug to treat all cancers, or at least all patients with a particular cancer. Scientists and physician researchers at academic medical centers were among the first to advocate a more personalized approach. From Blockbuster to Personalized Medicine Cancer arises as a result of normal genes acquiring abnormalities, a discovery made three decades ago by Nobel-Prize-winning UCSF researchers Harold A. Varmus, and J. Michael Bishop, MD -- the current UCSF chancellor. Now it's clear that individual tumors differ from one to the next in significant ways when it comes to exactly which genes become abnormal and drive tumor formation, growth, survival and deadly migration to distant tissues.