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Vol. 2, No. 12                                                                                                                June 12, 2019

Cancer Institute Member Spotlight

Maurizio Zangari, M.D.
Department of Hematology Oncology
UAMS College of Medicine
Director of Myeloma Bone Disease Research

Dr. Zangari's research focuses on the clinical and preclinical aspects of bone disease. He first described the bone anabolic properties of proteasome inhibitors in myeloma patients and the effects on the PTH axis. Specifically, he investigated the effect of proteasome inhibition on the PTH axis and parathyroid hormone 1 and 2 receptors. Read more>
What is NCI Designation? 
Part IV: The Six Essential Characteristics of an NCI-Designated
Cancer Center
NCI believes there are six essential characteristics that make up the foundation of a designated cancer center: These six characteristics serve as the starting place for any center pursuing NCI Designation and as a reminder of fundamental expectations for renewing centers. 

1.    Physical Space
NCI-Designated Cancer Centers have a distinct physical space that is dedicated to the conduct of cancer-focused research, promotes the use of shared resources and facilitates scientific interactions.  

2.    Organizational Capabilities
NCI-Designated Cancer Centers have a programmatic structure that effectively promotes scientific collaborations within the center, with other NCI-Designated Cancer Centers and with other external partners. Cancer centers are expected to take maximum advantage of institutional capabilities in cancer research. Cancer centers must identify their mission, vision and five-year research goals for the center, and research programs must demonstrate how they are achieving these center-wide research goals. 

3.    Transdisciplinary Collaboration and Coordination
NCI-Designated Cancer Centers promote innovative and interactive research opportunities through the formation of formal scientific research programs. Members of these research programs participate in competitively funded research, publications and other interactive activities. Inter- and intra-programmatic collaborations are important, as well as collaborations with other NCI-Designated Cancer Centers and other external partners. These collaborations are expected to maximize transdisciplinary, translational and collaborative research. Demonstration of the ability to move scientific discoveries across the translational pipeline from basic research through clinical or community impact is critical. NCI strongly encourages engagement in large grant mechanisms (SPORES, program project grants, multi-PI R01s) and NCI NCTN clinical trials to facilitate this pipeline. 

4.    Cancer Focus
NCI-Designated Cancer Centers have a clearly defined cancer research focus as demonstrated by cancer-relevant grants, contracts, publications and clinical trials. These research activities must align with the objectives of the research programs. 

5.    Institutional Commitment
NCI Designation lends stature to an institution by attracting patients, industry research support and philanthropy. With NCI Designation comes substantial investment by NCI in a cancer center, and NCI expects a similar commitment from cancer centers’ parent institutions (e.g. UAMS). NCI details a long list of commitments it expects from parent institutions including authority of the cancer center director, policies that promote research, and facilitation of clinician scientists to conduct research. 

6.    Center Director
The cancer center director at an NCI-Designated Cancer Center is a highly qualified scientist and administrator with leadership experience and expertise appropriate for establishing a vision for the center, advancing scientific goals and managing a complex organization.

While NCI does not typically alter these six essential characteristics, it will update the language and some components that fall under these six characteristics periodically. The NCI Office of Cancer Centers reported this spring that it will likely include an entrepreneurship pipeline in the upcoming new guidelines this fall. While we don’t have any details yet on this language, the general expectation is that starting next year, cancer centers will have to demonstrate within the six essential characteristics how they facilitate entrepreneurship and commercialization of scientific discoveries. The new Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG) guidelines are expected to be released sometime from September – December 2019.


Undergrads Explore Cancer Research Careers at UAMS Workshop

As Hendrix College junior John Pablo-Kaiser considers his career options, cancer research is high on the list.

“We’ve made leaps and bounds in what we know about cancer, but there is so much left to learn. I really think of it like a new frontier,” he said.

A biochemistry for pre-med major, Pablo-Kaiser recently took advantage of the opportunity to explore the field of cancer research during a daylong workshop at UAMS sponsored by Arkansas INBRE (IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence).

The Arkansas INBRE program supports research in public and private four-year colleges across Arkansas by building research capacity and raising awareness about career opportunities in biomedical research. It is supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Institutional Development Award (IDeA), which was established to broaden the geographic distribution of NIH funding for biomedical and behavioral research. Read More>
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