October 06, 2006

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and the National Foundation for Cancer Research Launch New Research Center for Molecular Imaging


Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) announced the establishment of a new NFCR Center for Molecular Imaging. This center, funded by a 5-year grant from the NFCR, will be led by James P. Basilion, Ph.D., associate professor of radiology and biomedical engineering at Case Schools of Medicine and Engineering, and will be focused on assisting cancer scientists in identifying specific genes that are ideally suited for molecular imaging and diagnosis improvement that will lead to earlier-stage treatments for cancer patients.

Research has consistently shown that the earlier a physician can diagnose a tumor, the greater the chance of effectively treating the patient against cancer and increasing their chance of survival. "Molecular imaging is being recognized as the next revolution in cancer research and is paving the way for patient-specific imaging evaluation based on molecular and genetic markers" said Basilion.

By collaborating with over 40 additional cancer researchers at universities and hospitals worldwide, the NFCR Center for Molecular Imaging at Case School of Medicine will provide a new and vital imaging and diagnostic research platform for scientists in the early diagnosis and clinical development of novel anticancer drugs. The Case center joins other NFCR Centers established at Oxford, Yale, University of Alabama-Birmingham, University of California-Berkeley, Dana Farber Cancer Center, University of Arizona, Freie Universit├Ąt Berlin, and the Institute of Medicinal Biotechnology in Beijing to form a broader international collaborative network of top researchers.

"This new initiative marks one of the first research centers in the United States dedicated solely to cancer molecular imaging," said Sujan Ba, Ph.D., chief scientific officer for the NFCR. "We expect that the discoveries we make will hasten the development of safe, effective treatments for patients and allow researchers to more rapidly and thoroughly evaluate the benefits and limitations of new experimental therapies."

Research Being Conducted at the NFCR Center for Molecular Imaging at Case Western Reserve University Current traditional cancer detection methods such as MRIs and Ultrasounds are not effective at detecting small, newly formed tumors in patients. This new center will work to improve these results by identifying cancer-specific genes that are ideally suited for molecular imaging and diagnosis. Center scientists will then conduct additional research to develop methods that will more accurately predict how a patient will respond to certain chemotherapy drugs based on their diagnosis. This method checks the production level of a group of cancer-related genes inside the patients' body and helps doctors to determine more accurately what therapy should be given to a patient.

Center research benefits from the expertise of Case researchers in the fields of biomedical engineering, chemistry, pharmacology, and radiology, among others. The center also benefits from Case's clinical partnerships including its primary affiliation with University Hospitals Case Medical Center and affiliations with the Cleveland Clinic, MetroGeneral Hospitals and the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center.

James P. Basilion, Ph.D.

Dr. Basilion concentrates on research related to the development and application of molecular imaging technologies. He is primarily focused in designing novel imaging tools to image individual and multiple molecular markers of disease. His research focuses on imaging tissues at the molecular rather than macromolecular level; offering a significant difference in the sensitivity and specificity of medical imaging. Some areas of active research include defining "molecular signatures" of disease, imaging multiple markers of disease simultaneously, developing methods to image intracellular disease markers in breast cancer, and developing molecular imaging technologies that allow for a greater assessment of disease progression.

"This new center provides a vital link among the worldwide network of NFCR sponsored scientists that will significantly move imaging research to the forefront of cancer research," Basilion said. "At Case School of Medicine, we believe in the value of exploring every avenue in our quest to cure cancer, and with this partnership between NFCR and the university, we move one step closer to that goal."

National Foundation for Cancer Research
Since it's founding in 1973, NFCR has spent more than $230 million funding basic science cancer research and prevention education focused on understanding how and why cells become cancerous. NFCR is dedicated to funding scientists who are discovering cancer's molecular mysteries and translating these discoveries into therapies that hold the hope for curing cancer. For more information, visit http://www.nfcr.org/ or call 1-800-321-CURE (2873).

About Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Founded in 1843, the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine is the largest medical research institution in Ohio and 12th largest among the nation's medical schools for research funding from the National Institutes of Health. Eleven Nobel Laureates have been affiliated with the school.

The School of Medicine is recognized throughout the international medical community for outstanding achievements in teaching. In 2002, it became only the third medical school in history to receive the best review possible from the national body responsible for accrediting the nation's medical schools. It ranks in the top 25 among U.S. research-oriented medical schools in the U.S. News and World Report guide to graduate education. Annually, the School of Medicine trains more than 600 M.D. and M.D./Ph.D. students. The School's Western Reserve2 curriculum interweaves four themes--research and scholarship, clinical mastery, leadership, and civic professionalism--to prepare students for the practice of evidence-based medicine in the rapidly changing health care environment of the 21st century.

The School of Medicine's primary clinical affiliate is University Hospitals at Case Medical Center and the school is additionally affiliated with MetroHealth Medical Center, the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, with which it opened the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University in 2004. http://casemed.case.edu

Media Contacts:

Silas Deane, National Foundation for Cancer Research, (800) 321-2873, ext. 105, sdeane@nfcr.org

Susan Licate, Case Western Reserve University. School of Medicine, (216) 368-3635, susan.licate@case.edu

Posted by: Heidi Cool, October 6, 2006 01:00 AM | News Topics: Collaborations/Partnerships, Grants, Healthcare, Philanthropy, Provost Initiatives, Research, School of Medicine

Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.