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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.
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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.
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Human Genome Pioneer Talks Personalized Medicine at UCSF Mission Bay

June 3, 2009

More information about the opening of the Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building is available here. J. Craig Venter, PhD, the first man to have his own DNA decoded in exhaustive detail, addressed the topic of personalized medicine as keynote speaker for the celebration of the opening of the Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building on the UCSF Mission Bay Campus on Tuesday. Although few others have similarly had their complete genomes decoded, Venter, during a brief talk titled "From Reading to Writing the Genetic Code," cited a need to decode 10,000 or more human genomes to take full advantage of the information within them. This goal will become more attainable as the cost of completely decoding a single human genome drops to under $2,000 in the next 18 months to two years, Venter predicted. Advances in computational science will be key to understanding what these decoded genomes can reveal about human physiology, individual differences and personalized medicine. "That's how it's really going to start to impact research that goes on here and around the globe," he said. Venter has a reputation for provocative speech, but generally appeared low-key in sharing his thoughts about personalized medicine with many UCSF supporters, faculty, staff and news media assembled in the grand foyer of the new cancer research building for the event. Venter later joined UCSF Chancellor-elect Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, Frank McCormick, director of UCSF's Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Brook Byers, a venture capital investor and entrepreneur, in a panel discussion about the future of cancer research. Supporting Basic Science In his talk, Venter emphasized the importance of basic science research in generating unanticipated discoveries that then lead to breakthroughs applicable to solving human problems. He honored the role of private philanthropy in advancing fundamental research discoveries.
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UCSF Celebrates Grand Opening of Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building at Mission Bay

June 2, 2009

More information about the opening of the Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building is available here. UCSF officially opened the Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building on its Mission Bay campus today with a ribbon-cutting and open house highlighting a new vision for cancer research, treatment, and prevention. The research facility, designed by award-winning architect Rafael Vinoly, strengthens and expands the University's commitment to translational research, which is the process of applying ideas, insights and discoveries generated through basic science to the treatment or prevention of human disease. It is the first UCSF building specifically focused on translational research for one particular disease. The state-of-the-art building will house scientists investigating cancer's basic biological mechanisms, including brain tumors, urologic oncology, pediatric oncology, cancer population sciences, and computational biology. For the first time ever, the scientists of the UCSF Brain Tumor Research Center, one of the largest and most comprehensive programs of its kind nationwide, will be united in one place. "This is the manifestation of a vision our outstanding cancer specialists have been working toward for more than a decade," said UCSF Chancellor J. Michael Bishop, who has been instrumental over the past 11 years in bringing development of the Mission Bay campus to fruition. "Thanks to the generous support of Helen Diller, her family and many others, UCSF now has an expanded home for its integrated research and clinical cancer program, with the ability to contribute in a significant manner to advancing cancer care throughout the world." A resident of the Bay Area, Helen Diller has a history of philanthropic giving to education, science and the arts. She created the Helen Diller Family Foundation of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund 10 years ago. In 2003, the Foundation made a generous $35 million grant to support construction of a cancer research building, and the facility was named the Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building in recognition of the family's pivotal role in making it possible. With 163,865 gross square feet, the five-story building will more than double the UCSF laboratory space in buildings exclusively dedicated to cancer research. UCSF's overall commitment to cancer research is undertaken in laboratories and clinics across nearly all UCSF departments and facilities. "Many UCSF cancer research programs are breaking new ground and exploring exciting new horizons that have enormous potential," said Frank McCormick, PhD, FRS, director of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. "This new building gives our basic scientists and clinical researchers the essential space they need to expand these programs. "We are excited to open this extraordinary new research facility, and we are especially grateful for the Diller Family's passionate philanthropic support," he said.
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I-SPY Trial Offers Key Insights into Locally Advanced Breast Cancer

June 1, 2009

Scientists are reporting two findings that could influence the way researchers screen for, treat and assess prognosis for women with locally advanced breast cancer, an aggressive form of the disease. One finding offers a critical message regarding treatment strategy, they say. "Women with locally advanced ...
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New Building to Spur Advancement in Integrated Cancer Research

June 1, 2009

More information about the opening of the Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building is available here. A groundbreaking new research facility at UCSF's Mission Bay campus will help take the University's scientific leadership in cancer to the next level and will foster the collaboration and innovation that are vital to combating one of the world's leading killers. The Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building, which opens its doors tomorrow, will enhance the already world-class UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center by doubling the existing laboratory space in buildings exclusively devoted to cancer research. Designed by award-winning architect Rafael Viñoly, the new cancer research building will be home to about 400 researchers when fully occupied. These scientists will focus on fundamental research in cancer across disease types, including such areas as urologic cancer and brain tumors. "This is the manifestation of a vision our outstanding cancer specialists have been working toward for more than a decade," said UCSF Chancellor J. Michael Bishop, MD. "Thanks to the generous support of Helen Diller, her family and many others, UCSF now has an expanded home for its integrated research and clinical cancer program, with the ability to contribute in a significant manner to advancing cancer care throughout the world." UCSF has been a trailblazer in cancer care and research since the Cancer Research Institute was established on campus in 1948. In the 1970s, a discovery by Bishop and fellow cancer researcher Harold Varmus, MD, showed that the disease is caused by normal genes gone awry. This discovery led to a 1989 Nobel Prize for Bishop and Varmus--the University's first. Today, the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only cancer center in Northern California to hold the National Cancer Institute's prestigious "comprehensive" designation. The center ranks first in California and seventh nationwide in National Cancer Institute research grants and is home to pioneers in research into genetic, cellular and immune-system causes and responses to cancer. "The center has established a national reputation for its outstanding research in basic, clinical and population sciences, and for its culture of innovation and multidisciplinary interactions," said Frank McCormick, PhD, director of the cancer center. UCSF has the country's largest brain tumor program, offering state-of-the-art research and treatment for both children and adults. Thanks to the new research building, investigators from the Brain Tumor Research Center (BTRC), who work at other locations, will be able to operate under one roof. "This is a monumental moment for us in the brain tumor research community," said Mitchel Berger, MD, BTRC director. "The new building allows us to come together for the first time in our history to collaborate and accelerate our research goals. We can expect to make tremendous progress because of this opportunity to all be together in this phenomenal space."...