Levine Cancer Institute, UNC Charlotte announce innovative pancreatic cancer research partnership

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Carolina HealthCare System’s Levine Cancer Institute and UNC Charlotte will enter into a joint project to advance translational and clinical research in the field of pancreatic cancer, one of the most deadly forms of cancer.

The collaborative effort, called the Charlotte Pancreatic Cancer Project (CPCP), aims to foster more working relationships between physicians and scientists at both institutions by offering funding for innovative research ideas, submitted to and reviewed by a committee of their peers.

raghavan“The survival figures for pancreatic cancer are unacceptable. There is a glaring need to conduct more research into prevention, earlier detection and treatment options, and together with UNC Charlotte, we are uniquely positioned to be a national model for accelerating research in this area,” said Derek Raghavan, Levine Cancer Institute president and internationally renowned cancer researcher and medical oncologist. “Levine Cancer Institute is dedicated to enhancing the quality and convenience of cancer care for patients. This partnership will spur scientific investigation and discovery and bring more access to pancreatic cancer research closer to home for people across the Carolinas.”

According to the American Cancer Society, pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States and only one-fifth of Americans diagnosed with pancreatic cancer survive for a full year. The most common type is pancreatic adenocarcinoma, an aggressive disease that can spread quickly to other parts of the body and is difficult to cure, which accounts for more than 90 percent of all pancreatic cancer diagnoses.

“Through clinical and basic science research, we are rapidly learning how to better detect and treat many diseases,” said Robert Wilhelm, vice chancellor for research and economic development and executive director of the Charlotte Research Institute at UNC Charlotte. “By combining the efforts of a strong research university with a strong academic healthcare organization, we hope to drive advances in pancreatic cancer research and offer access to more cutting-edge research to improve outcomes for people with this devastating disease.”wilhelm

This partnership is part of an ongoing relationship between the two institutions to advance the health care of the region and beyond. Since 2010, researchers at UNC Charlotte have worked with CHS researchers and clinicians to analyze pancreatic cancer tissue samples. The University has researchers active in other epithelial cancers such as breast and ovarian. The project will incorporate ideas from various disciplines including virus therapy, engineering, chemistry, physics and biology.

Photo: Pinku Mukherjee, Irwin Belk Endowed Professor for Cancer Research, is one of the University’s leading scientists studying pancreatic and breast cancers.