$1 million Walther Cancer Foundation grant to fund Purdue-IU collaboration

February 2, 2010

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue's Oncological Sciences Center and the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center will share a five-year, $1 million grant from the Walther Cancer Foundation to exchange medical fellows, engineers and scientists for advancing cancer research.

The Walther Oncology Physical Sciences & Engineering Research Embedding Program will be launched through the IU-Purdue Cancer Care Engineering project to create opportunities for postdoctoral fellows to train in clinics and for medical fellows to work in Purdue laboratories as interdisciplinary cancer research teams.

Purdue and IU each will invest an additional $250,000 in the project.

"This innovative partnering of medical fellows and engineering/physical sciences postdoctoral fellows on joint cancer-focused projects will benefit the translation of newly developed technology to the patient," said Marietta Harrison, associate vice president for research and director of Purdue's Oncological Sciences Center in Discovery Park.

Purdue engineers, chemists and physicists have global expertise in the development of diagnostics, imaging techniques and systems engineering and would benefit from the perspective of a clinical setting, Harrison said. At the same time, the IU Simon Cancer Center is an international leader in applying technologies in a clinical patient setting.

"Using the strengths of these two premier institutions as a living laboratory for cross-training scientists, engineers and medical fellows, this initiative will be a transformational change in how we train the next generation of medical researchers," said Dr. Patrick Loehrer Sr., Kenneth Wiseman Professor of Medicine and interim director of the IU Simon Cancer Center.

Project leaders at Purdue are Julie Nagel, managing director of the Oncological Sciences Center; Joe Pekny, interim head of industrial engineering and chemical engineering professor; and Harrison. Purdue's project partners include the colleges of Science and Engineering, the Purdue Center for Cancer Research, and the Office of the Vice President for Research. Loehrer is leading IU's efforts in the partnership.

The Cancer Care Engineering project, led by IU and Purdue faculty, is applying systems-engineering principles, data visualization and statistical modeling to the broad spectrum of cancer prevention, treatment and care delivery.

Cancer Care Engineering is a collaboration among the Oncological Sciences Center, Bindley Bioscience Center, Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering and the Rosen Center for Advanced Computing at Purdue along with the IU Simon Cancer Center, Regenstrief Institute/Indiana University Center for Health Services & Outcomes Research, and the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

The Walther Cancer Foundation, Regenstrief Foundation in Indianapolis and the U.S. Department of Defense are providing funding for this research project.

Since it was launched in 1985, the Walther Cancer Foundation has invested almost $100 million in cancer-focused medical research.


About the Oncological Sciences Center

The Oncological Sciences Center is the Discovery Park arm of the National Cancer Institute-designated Purdue University Center for Cancer Research. The Discovery Park center is integrating the broad areas of research in life sciences, liberal arts, engineering and chemical sciences to advance the application of cancer research to the clinic. It focuses on engaging cancer clinicians, both locally and at the IU Simon Cancer Center in the early stages of new technology and drug development.


About the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center

The Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center advances the understanding, prevention and treatment of cancer throughout Indiana and the world with patient-centered care, acceleration of promising science and collaborative educational programs. Established in 1992 as the IU Cancer Center in Indianapolis, it has been an NCI-designated Cancer Center since 1999 and is the only center with such distinction in Indiana that provides patient care. Its name was changed in 2006 to reflect the philanthropic support of the Melvin and Bren Simon family.


About the Walther Cancer Foundation

The Indianapolis-based Walther Cancer Foundation is an independent, private grant-making foundation committed to eliminating cancer as a cause of suffering and death through supporting and promoting interdisciplinary and interinstitutional basic laboratory, clinical and behavioral cancer research. The foundation is particularly interested in supporting efforts to strengthen cancer research institutions in Indiana.

Media Contacts: Phillip Fiorini, 765-496-3133, pfiorini@purdue.edu
                              Eric Schoch, 317-274-8205, eschoch@iupui.edu

Sources: Marietta Harrison, 765-494-1442, jrnagel@purdue.edu
                  Patrick Loehrer, 317-278-0070