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University Of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Windber Research Institute, Walter Reed Army Medical Center And Georgetown University Awarded $4.2 Million For Gynecologic Cancer Program​

JOHNSTOWN, Pa., June 29, 2004 At a press conference this morning at Windber Research Institute, Congressman John P. Murtha (PA-12) announced funding for a major initiative to foster new understanding of gynecologic cancers that are newly diagnosed in approximately 80,000 women each year 27,000 of whom are expected to die of their disease.

Murtha obtained $4.2 million from the U.S. Department of Defense for the initiative, a collaboration among the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), the Windber Research Institute (WRI), Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Georgetown University to create a program solely dedicated to reducing the incidence, morbidity and mortality of gynecologic cancers.

This program represents an important step in our effort to make significant advances in womens health in this case, the prevention and treatment of gynecologic cancers and other debilitating diseases that have a tremendous impact on women, Murtha said.

The key to cures, or at least long-term survival from cancer, lies in our ability to detect it early, before symptoms have appeared and before the cancer has spread, said Ronald Herberman, M.D., director of UPCI. Thanks to the support of Congressman Murtha, we now have the opportunity and tools to work collectively to improve our ability to detect gynecologic cancers and make a true impact on morbidity and mortality rates from these diseases.

The initiative will focus on characterizing the molecular alterations associated with benign and malignant gynecologic diseases and facilitate the development of novel early detection, prevention and treatment strategies for the management of gynecologic cancers such as ovarian, cervical and endometrial, as well as non-cancerous gynecologic diseases such as uterine fibroids and endometriosis.

By using our combined knowledge of novel technologies such as microarray and proteomics to analyze blood and tissue samples for proteins that may be linked to gynecologic diseases, we can step-up the progress we are making in improving womens health, said F. Nicholas Jacobs, president, WRI. According to Jacobs, proteomics the study of the shape, function and expression of proteins may allow researchers to diagnose diseases such as ovarian cancer earlier by identifying specific proteins in blood or other fluids and tissue that indicate the presence of disease at its earliest stages, leading to better prevention, screening and treatment options.

This initiative represents a truly complementary partnership, said LTC Larry Maxwell, M.D., director of research, division of gynecologic oncology, Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Each partner brings unique knowledge and expertise to the table that will enable us to develop a state-of-the-art capability for clinical and basic research to improve screening, early detection, prevention and treatment of gynecologic disease.

Georgetown University is pleased to be part of this initiative, said Seong K. Mun, Ph.D., director of special programs, Georgetown University Medical Center. Only through working together and sharing knowledge can we more quickly translate research into prevention and treatment strategies that can make a difference in womens lives in the military as well as civilian community.

The five aims of the program are to improve the ability to detect gynecologic diseases earlier, develop molecular profiling technologies, determine the influence of hormones on cancer risk, identify the molecular expression patterns associated with disease, and develop new therapies for gynecologic tumors. To achieve the objectives of the partnership, the organizations will utilize tissue banking, epidemiologic data collection, clinical research and basic science research.

The Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) of the U.S. Army Reserve and Material Command will provide administrative and technical support for the initiative.

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