University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI)


December 2012

The last weeks of 2012 - an eventful year both nationally and internationally - give us the opportunity to reflect on the events of our year at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) and UPMC CancerCenter. As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of our move to the Shadyside campus, we have so many reasons to be proud of what we have accomplished on behalf of our patients and our field. Here are just a few of our highlights.

Drs. Chang, Moore, and GrandisSeveral of our research leaders garnered national attention for their sustained accomplishment in the field of cancer research. We are especially proud that Drs. Yuan Chang and Patrick Moore were elected to the National Academy of Science and Dr. Jennifer Grandis was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 2012. These elections confirm that our leaders and their teams are among the elite in our field. We were delighted that two of our neurosurgery leaders, Drs. Ian Pollack and Robert Friedlander, were elected to the Association of American Physicians, an honorary society for physicians that dates back to the 1880's and whose founders include legendary physician, Sir William Osler.

We are equally proud of some of our youngest scientists including the three University of Pittsburgh medical students who won competitive and prestigious fellowships from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to spend a year working with a UPCI mentor. And let's not forget the 28 high school students who participated in the UPCI Summer Academy. We hope their introduction into the fascinating world of biomedical research will capture their interest for life.

We are grateful to the many organizations and individuals who believe in and have chosen to invest and reinvest in our cancer research mission. Many of them came together at the 2012 Hillman Cancer Center Gala “Faces of Hope” to celebrate our progress and recommit to our mission. It is not possible for me to recognize each of them individually, but three gifts are especially noteworthy. We are extremely pleased to be the recipients of a generous $1 million gift from the Pittsburgh Foundation to establish the Pittsburgh Foundation Chair for Innovative Cancer Research and we are hard at work raising $1 million in matching funds to fully support this chair. A gift from the children of long-time UPCI Council member and supporter, Sally Levin, established the Sally M. Levin Endowed Fund for Innovative Cancer Research-a birthday gift that truly keeps on giving. Finally, another long-time supporter and UPCI Council member, golf great Arnold Palmer, provided continued generous support to fund a program of high risk-high impact pilot projects in cancer epidemiology, prevention, control and behavior.

Our clinicians have continued the critical and demanding task of caring for all those in need of our services across the UPMC CancerCenter network in western Pennsylvania. Their ability to provide high quality care led to our certification by the Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI) of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, recognition that our UPMC CancerCenter members are working to provide the best care across all sites of our network. This commitment to excellence is exemplified by our ongoing work to link our centers through the launch of a common electronic medical record wherever possible. This stepwise launch began with our physician champions, Drs. William Ferri, Stewart Lancaster, and Grace Tarabay-Caridad, at UPMC CancerCenter Beaver and has moved to the team at UPMC St. Margaret. The effort will continue at a number of sites into the next year.

Hillman Cancer CenterGiven the pace of medicine and research and the age of our Hillman Cancer Center (10 years!) it should not be a surprise that we continue to renovate our facilities at Shadyside to maximize our ability to perform cutting-edge research and provide state-of-the-art care. Two such projects will come to fruition by the end of 2012. A key need in our research domain is the ability to use advanced imaging techniques in preclinical models of cancer to understand cancer biology and develop new therapies. Thanks to a vibrant partnership with Dr. Ty Bae and leaders in the Department of Radiology, we dedicated a full service imaging facility for animal models of cancer in October. This will allow us to apply the same imaging capabilities in laboratory investigations of cancer –PET scans, CAT scans, MRI, ultrasound and more–that we utilize in care and clinical research for our patients. Such a facility should truly enable seamless bench to bedside translation.

A second highlight is the opening of the Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Cancers that is scheduled to open in early 2013. This renovation of the 4th floor of the Hillman Cancer Center was made possible by a catalytic gift from the Mario Lemieux Foundation, generous support from UPMC, and the hard work of our staff, patient advocates, architects and builders. The hallmarks of this initiative are the UPMC tenets of patient-centered care, good science and smart technology. This truly will be the next step in our long-standing commitment to develop and practice personalized or precision cancer care.

Of course these are just a few of the highlights of the activities of our cancer team of thousands of individuals who work toward our goal of translating knowledge from the lab to the clinic to the community. Truly we believe that the tag line of our new brand of UPMC CancerCenter Partner with the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute launched earlier this year says it all: For one we are many. For many we are one.

Best wishes for the holiday season.



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