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Coveted SPORE grant makes the U a leading site for pancreatic cancer research and care

Selwyn Vickers, M.D. The University of Minnesota has been awarded jointly with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Comprehensive Cancer Center one of the National Cancer Institute’s most coveted cancer research grants.

The five-year, $11.5 million Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant aims to give the two cancer centers the means to achieve breakthrough research discoveries to better understand, diagnose, and treat pancreatic cancer, a deadly disease with a poor prognosis.

The SPORE program is designed to promote interdisciplinary research and move basic science findings from the laboratory to clinical settings. Its ultimate goal is to reduce cancer incidence and mortality as well as improve survival and patients’ quality of life.

Two research projects are assigned to the University and will be conducted by Masonic Cancer Center scientists. One is focused on identifying and targeting pathways of pancreatic cancer progression and metastasis, while the other is focused on developing an oncolytic adenovirus to attack pancreatic tumor stem cells.

“This SPORE grant is an honor and a testament to the high-level cancer research capabilities at the University of Minnesota, its Masonic Cancer Center, and UAB,” says Selwyn Vickers, M.D., the grant’s coprincipal investigator and associate director of the Masonic Cancer Center’s Translational Research Program. “Most importantly, this [grant] further assures patients and their families that when they come to the University of Minnesota for treatment of pancreatic cancer, they’re coming to one of the best places in the whole United States.”

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