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News Release

For immediate use

Aug. 1, 2007

North Carolina legislators establish University Cancer Research Fund

CHAPEL HILL – The North Carolina General Assembly created the state’s first University Cancer Research Fund with the passage of the new state budget. The fund, established to accelerate cancer research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Medicine and its Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, will provide $25 million in 2007-2008 and is slated to increase to $50 million per year beginning in 2009.

Gov. Mike Easley signed the budget bill into law, Tuesday, July 31, 2007.

With this new funding, the UNC School of Medicine and Lineberger are poised to continue their international leadership in cancer research, officials said. The research funding will serve to improve the quality of life and treatment of cancer patients nationwide and enhance UNC’s access to science and technology. It will also increase UNC Lineberger’s ability to discover and disseminate knowledge across the spectrum of cancer research, and make real improvements in prevention, early detection and therapies that will benefit all patients.

“We are extremely grateful to the members of the North Carolina General Assembly and Governor Easley for providing this groundbreaking funding. It will allow our university’s great researchers to make significant advancements against a disease that has touched the lives of nearly everyone,” said Dr. William L. Roper, dean of the School of Medicine and chief executive officer of the UNC Health Care System. 

“Our legislators have sent a clear signal about the value they place on building even more momentum in Chapel Hill for strengthening the faculty’s capacity to conduct life-changing research and improve patient care,” said UNC’s chancellor James Moeser. “The research fund will further enhance the state’s wise investment in the North Carolina Cancer Hospital, the University, the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and UNC Health Care.”

“At UNC alone, we saw 15,000 cancer patients last year, representing every one of our state’s 100 counties,” Roper said. “We want to lead the way in combating cancer at home and around the world. As one of only a few states with a dedicated comprehensive cancer research fund, I am confident that our institution will excel in developing novel and more individualized regimens of care for cancer patients,” he said.

The fund will enable interdisciplinary research in three major areas by creating a statewide cancer assessment and prevention program, continuing to undertake groundbreaking basic and translational research, and enhancing multidisciplinary clinical care and research teams.

“With the support of the General Assembly for construction of the North Carolina Cancer Hospital in 2004, and now this extraordinary cancer research fund, UNC has been provided an opportunity and a challenge – to become the nation’s best university cancer center,” said Dr. Shelley Earp, director of UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“We must and will develop pathways to move prevention, early detection and therapeutic research into the clinic and the community, the outcome of which will be improved cancer care, grounded in the latest research findings,” said Earp.

“The National Cancer Institute is extremely gratified to learn of the General Assembly's commitment to making a difference in the lives of those afflicted with cancer. UNC Lineberger is one of the outstanding cancer centers supported by NCI that conduct groundbreaking clinical research and provide state-of-the-art cancer care,” said NCI Director Dr. John E. Niederhuber. “Having the state government make a long-term investment in decreasing the burden of cancer and, ultimately, the burden of cancer health care costs, is truly visionary.”

“As a cancer survivor, the University Cancer Research Fund makes me optimistic about a solution to cancer,” said Kate MacIntyre, a UNC Health Care lung cancer patient who lives in Davidson, N.C. “The state of North Carolina is putting a stake in the ground, emphasizing the importance of cancer research to make very real progress under a dedicated program unlike any we have ever had. North Carolina is saying ‘We can do this.’”

UNC Health Care System
The UNC Health Care System is a not-for-profit integrated health care system owned by the state of North Carolina and based in Chapel Hill. It exists to further the teaching mission of the University of North Carolina and to provide state-of-the-art patient care. UNC Health Care is comprised of UNC Hospitals, ranked consistently among the best medical centers in the country; the UNC School of Medicine, a nationally eminent research institution; community practices; home health and hospice services in seven central North Carolina counties; and Rex Healthcare and its provider network in Wake County. For more information please go to www.unchealthcare.org

UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
As part of the UNC system, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center is the public comprehensive cancer center for the state and the people of North Carolina. The center’s mission is to reduce cancer occurrence and death in North Carolina and the nation through research, treatment, training and outreach. Center faculty treat cancer patients, conduct research into the causes of cancer, develop and direct statewide programs in cancer prevention and train future physicians, nurses, scientists, and public health professionals. In 2009 UNC Health Care will open the new North Carolina Cancer Hospital, the clinical home of UNC Lineberger. For more information please go to http://unclineberger.org

Note: To reach Roper or Earp, contact:
Stephanie Crayton, (919) 966-2860, scrayton@unch.unc.edu
or Dianne Shaw at (919) 923-6012, dianne_shaw@unc.edu

News Services contact: Clinton Colmenares, (919) 843-1991, or clinton_colmenares@unc.edu