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UPCI Receives $1 Million Grant From Benedum Foundation

PITTSBURGH, May 2, 2000 — University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has received a $1 million grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation for the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) to expand its current oncology informatics program by establishing the new Benedum Oncology Informatics Center. This center, the first of its kind, will be located at the Hillman Cancer Center, UPMC Shadyside , which is slated to open in early 2002.

"To establish a highly efficient informatics program for a major cancer center such as UPCI is of great importance, especially because informatics is key to providing quality patient care and performing leading edge biomedical research," said Ronald B. Herberman, M.D., director of UPCI, Hillman Professor of Oncology and associate vice chancellor for research, health sciences, University of Pittsburgh. "I am delighted that, with the generous assistance from the Benedum Foundation, UPCI will take a national role in such developments."

Because cancer centers have become increasingly dependent on information technology, UPCI established a Oncology Informatics Program in 1998 under the direction of Henry Lowe, M.D., director of Oncology Informatics at UPCI, director of the new Benedum Oncology Informatics Center, and a nationally recognized informatics expert. The program was developed in an attempt to combine information technology and the Internet to improve the care of cancer patients across the region and integrate clinical, research and genomics data, making it available in a meaningful way to cancer patients. Dr. Lowe also is principal investigator of the Chart Engine Project. This medical informatics research initiative, funded by the National Library of Medicine and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, provides a secure, Internet-based multimedia medical record system at UPCI. The Chart Engine system allows clinicians and researchers to view not only the text-based components of the patient record, but also to retrieve, view and manipulate a wide variety of digital imaging studies, such as CT and MRI scans.

With the new Benedum Oncology Informatics Center, UPCI will be able to expand upon these programs through the development of a comprehensive cancer information management structure at UPCI, the creation of an academic oncology informatics research program and the establishment of an oncology informatics fellowship training program.

"This center will help support a vigorous research and development program focused on creating the infrastructure and resources necessary to apply 21st century information systems and Internet technologies to UPCI’s mission as the region’s hub in preventing cancer, providing state-of-the-art cancer care and educating our community," Dr. Lowe said, adding, "The Internet continues to drive new applications in biomedicine that will have a major impact on oncology, especially in the area of Internet-based clinical trials, where patients and clinical researchers throughout the region will be linked through secure Internet-based data collection, review and reporting systems."

As the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in western Pennsylvania, UPCI is a recognized leader in providing innovative cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment; biomedical research; compassionate patient care and support; and community outreach services. UPCI investigators are world-renowned for their work in clinical and basic research on cancer.

For additional information on UPCI, please access or call 1-800-237-4PCI (4724).

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