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May is National Cancer Research Month
Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center Joins the American Association of Cancer Research to Promote Cancer Research Awareness
Posted Date: 5/16/2012 9:30 AM

May is National Cancer Research MonthUCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center joins with the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and other cancer centers across the nation in recognizing May as National Cancer Research Month, as declared by the United States Congress in 2007.

The Jonsson cancer center is designated a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute—one of only 40 such centers in the nation—and in July 2011 was named among the top 10 cancer centers nationwide by U.S. News & World Report, a ranking it has held for 11 of the last 12 years.

The cancer center’s mission is to maintain the highest standards of excellence in patient care, education, basic science, clinical and translational research and cancer prevention and control. In honor of National Cancer Research Month, here are some leading-edge research highlights from the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center in our quest to find new and more effective therapies for cancer. The cancer center leads the way and/or is among the leaders in clinical trials testing of molecularly-targeted therapies that kill cancer cells while leaving the healthy cells alone. The cancer center was either the top or in the top three in accrual in clinical trials for:

  • Herceptin for breast cancer, developed based on pre-clinical and clinical research conducted by Dr. Dennis Slamon, director of clinical/translational research at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Avastin in colon and lung cancer, Jonsson Cancer Center scientists did the pre-clinical testing on the angiogenesis inhibitor
  • Rituxan for lymphoma
  • Tarceva and Iressa for lung cancer
  • Gleevec for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and gastrointestinal stromal tumors, Jonsson Cancer Center scientists did the pioneering work linking the BCR-abl gene and its mutant protein to CML
  • Zelboraf for metastatic melanoma
  • Sutent for kidney cancer
  • Sprycel for CML and breast cancer
  • Vetabix for colorectal cancer
  • Tykerb for breast cancer

UCLA's Dr. Patricia Ganz

Dr. Patrica Ganz
Additional highlights include our work in survivorship and quality of life research in both adults and children. Dr. Patricia Ganz, a nationally renowned expert in the field, directs the cancer center’s UCLA-LIVESTRONG Survivorship Center of Excellence, which provides clinical care and information on improving survivorship quality-of-life and offers community education on care and leading-edge research for survivors.

The Jonsson Cancer Center's Cancer Molecular Imaging Program Area has resulted in compelling insights into cancer. Cancer center researchers have been able to track gene therapy at work in animal models and watch, in real time, the immune system’s first response to cancer. The program may one day help oncologists find cancer spread in the human body when it’s still too tiny to be detected by conventional imaging modalities and it may allow oncologists to watch as treatments find the cancer and kill it. Additionally, using Positron Emission Tomography (PET), researchers can now tell in soft tissue sarcoma patients whether their chemotherapy is working after just one round has been administered, saving them from further toxic therapy that is not effective.

Jonsson Cancer Center leaders have developed a focus in stem cell biology to study cancer stem cells, which are thought to be the cause of several cancers. Dr. Judith Gasson, the cancer center director, was a primary force behind the creation of a stem cell institute on campus, which has a major cancer focus.

Cancer center researchers also have been using nanotechnology to develop novel drug delivery systems, to determine if a cell is malignant by the way it feels and create a localized and controlled drug delivery method that is invisible to the immune system, which could provide newer and more effective treatments for cancer and other diseases. Additionally, cancer center investigators have teamed with researchers from the California Institute of Technology, the UCLA Institute for Molecular Medicine (IMED) and the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) in Seattle to develop new technologies for early detection and classification of cancers using nanotechnology, systems biology and molecular imaging.

UCLA and the California Institute of Technology have established Joint Center for Translational Medicine, which will advance experimental research into clinical applications, including the diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as cancer. The center will build upon UCLA's strength and international reputation in conducting translational research.

UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center has more than 240 researchers and clinicians engaged in disease research, prevention, detection, control, treatment and education. One of the nation's largest comprehensive cancer centers, the Jonsson center is dedicated to promoting research and translating basic science into leading-edge clinical studies. In July 2011, the Jonsson Cancer Center was named among the top 10 cancer centers nationwide by U.S. News & World Report, a ranking it has held for 11 of the last 12 years. For more information on the Jonsson Cancer Center, visit For more information on National Cancer Research Month, visit the American Association for Cancer Research.


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