Media contacts:
Vincent Dollard, Winship Cancer Institute, 404-778-4580
Gail Whitehead, Department of Defense, 301-619-7783
March 24, 2003


Emory's Winship Cancer Institute to Lead $10 Million Prostate Cancer "Manhattan Project"

Atlanta, GA--The Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University announced today that it has been awarded a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Prostate Cancer Research Program.

The grant will fund development of a new prostate cancer research consortium consisting of 13 universities from eight states over three years. Led by Jonathan Simons, MD, director of the Winship Cancer Institute (WCI) and Leland Chung, PhD, director of Emoryís Molecular Urology and Therapeutics Program and a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Scholar, the consortium will work to identify entirely new therapeutic targets and concepts for effective treatment of advanced prostate cancer.

It is the largest, federally funded, three-year award for prostate cancer research in history. Presented by the DoD Prostate Cancer Research Program of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Commandís Office of the Congressional Directed Medical Research Programs, the award also represents a new model in federal agency funding that removes barriers and brings together the best U.S. team of scientists to address the eradication of prostate cancer.

More than 20 institutions applied for the $150,000 first phase planning grants. From those, five were chosen by the DoD to move forward and compete for the final consortium award, which the Prostate Cancer Research Program refers to as the "Manhattan Project of prostate cancer," named after the 1942 project that brought together the best scientists in the nation. WCIís proposal earned the highest marks among the five final submissions.

The WCI plan is comprised of prostate cancer investigators from across the country, assembled by Dr. Simons and Dr. Chung who will serve as primary investigators. Participants will employ Web-based videoconferencing and online, real-time video streaming and data sharing technologies.

Based on research completed with the planning grant award, WCI investigators created a web-based "Virtual Corridor of Adjacent Programs" (V-CAP) system. The V-CAPs connect team members and allow all consortium investigators, regardless of geography, to enter each otherís laboratory or clinic to share an idea, problem, unpublished manuscript or clinical trial protocol.

"To our knowledge, the V-CAP infrastructure for real time interaction is a first in prostate cancer research," says Dr. Simons. "Investigators from 13 universities in eight states will work together as if they were all located in one giant laboratory. The Web-based technology presents the opportunity to share critical discoveries and important data."

Investigators are from Emory, WCI, Wayne State University in Detroit, Johns Hopkins Oncology Center in Baltimore, Harvard Medical School in Boston, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, The University of California at Davis in Sacramento, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center in Los Angeles, The University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, The University of Virginia, and Harvard/Brigham and Womenís Hospital in Boston.

Consortium investigators include PhD-level basic scientists in tumor biology, bone physiology, molecular genetics, pharmacology and biostatstics, as well as physician scientists who are urologists, pathologists, radiation oncologists and medical oncologists. The investigators and their laboratory members will form five teams, each of which will be assigned specific roles in attacking the lethal phenotype of prostate cancer.

The Prostate Cancer Research program was initiated by Congress in 1997 and has received $395 million dollars for peer-reviewed research from 1997 to 2002, providing more than 800 awards to institutions for research into better diagnosis, treatment and steps toward a cure for cancer. For fiscal year 2003, the Prostate Cancer Research program has received an appropriation of $85 million.

As a leader in cancer patient care and research, Emory Universityís Winship Cancer Institute offers cancer patients new therapies, including more than 200 clinical trials for all tumor types and stages of cancer. WCI also serves as the coordinating center for a vast array of resources in medical, surgical, and radiation oncology, diagnostic imaging, and the subspecialties of cancer care throughout Emory University. WCI is an active partner in the Georgia Cancer Coalition, an innovative public/private initiative to develop and improve state-wide cancer research, treatment, prevention and care for all of Georgiaís citizens.

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