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Keystone Programs for Collaborative Discovery Launch at Fox Chase

PHILADELPHIA (Feb. 27, 2008) Fox Chase Cancer Center today announced the first four awards in an innovative new research program designed to bring the power of team-based science to bear on some of the most significant questions in cancer research. The Keystone Programs for Collaborative Discovery aim to accelerate the pace of medical progress against cancer.

At the heart of each of the four new Keystone Programs is a self-organized group of scientists, clinicians, and other research professionals seeking to integrate and focus their joined expertise on an important cancer problem. Selected after a competitive external peer-review process, each of the new Keystone Programs will receive at least $5 million in support over five years. The funding will come primarily from new sources, including Fox Chases Board of Directors and private philanthropy. Additional Keystone Programs are in development and will be added to the portfolio as soon as is feasible.

The Keystone Programs for Collaborative Discovery represent an unprecedented reimagining of Fox Chases research enterprise to seize the opportunities for progress against cancer unique to this moment in scientific history, says Michael V. Seiden, M.D., Ph.D., president and CEO of Fox Chase Cancer Center. In the post-genomic era, the next wave of major advances against disease will depend on self-assembled teams of researchers from different fields effectively pooling their skills and resources. The Keystone Programs were designed specifically to encourage and support the kind of creative team-based science at Fox Chase that will be required to solve the most challenging cancer problems.

The first four Keystone Programs for Collaborative Discovery are:

  • The Keystone Program in Personalized Risk and Prevention
    Goal: To discover molecular markers that predict cancer risk and to develop risk reduction strategies tailored to the profile and personal values of the individual

  • The Keystone Program in Epigenetics and Progenitor Cells
    Goal: To investigate two new views of the origins and maintenance of tumor cells with the aim of creating novel approaches to diagnosis, treatment, and prevention

  • The Keystone Program in Blood Cell Development and Cancer
    Goal: To identify the genes essential for blood precursor cells to give rise to the many distinct blood cell types, a critical step towards understanding blood cell cancers and improving the treatment of patients with leukemias and lymphomas

  • The Keystone Program in Personalized Kidney Cancer Therapy
    Goal: To investigate the mechanisms of kidney cancer metastasis and to uncover the molecular signals that anticipate how a kidney tumor will respond to therapies in order to optimize therapy for individual patients

In recent years, federal agencies funding biomedical research have recognized the importance of multidisciplinary team-based strategies for solving important disease problems. Funding mechanisms intended to support this kind of research include the Program Project Grants (P01) sponsored by a number of the National Institutes of Health and the Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) supported by the National Cancer Institute, one of the NIH institutes.

In launching the Keystone Programs, Fox Chase Cancer Center is making a remarkable institutional commitment to promoting team-based research to accelerate discovery in cancer medicine, says Seiden. The scope of our investment in this program is unusual and may well be unique among academic research centers.

In confronting cancer, Fox Chase Cancer Center has two advantages over most other leading medical centers, according to Seiden, both of which will contribute to the success of the Keystone Programs. The first is its tight focus on only one major health problem. Unlike most medical centers, Fox Chase is dedicated solely to confronting the challenge of human cancer. A second pronounced advantage is Fox Chases intimate organizational culture, which encourages the kind of collaborative interactions among scientists and physicians that will drive the success of the Keystone Programs.

Twelve proposals for Keystone Programs funding were submitted for consideration by teams of Fox Chase researchers. At the invitation of Fox Chase president and CEO Seiden, an external scientific advisory panel of sixteen leading cancer scientists and clinicians agreed to review the proposals in detail to assess their scientific strengths. The panel also traveled to Fox Chase to listen to presentations by the proposal teams. The counsel provided by this independent group of advisors served to ensure the fairness of the award process, as well as the high quality of the winning programs.


Contact: Franklin Hoke
Fox Chase Cancer Center

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