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October 26, 2009

NCI Launches Physical Sciences-Oncology Centers to Develop New Fields of Cancer Research

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded multiple institutional grants to establish twelve Physical Sciences-Oncology Centers (PS-OC) as part of its Physical Sciences in Oncology initiative to better understand the physical laws and principles that shape and govern the emergence and behavior of cancer. The goal of the five year initiative is to engage trans-disciplinary scientific teams from fields of physics, mathematics, chemistry and engineering to examine new, non-traditional approaches to cancer research. Researchers will explore the physical laws and principles of cancer; evolution and evolutionary theory of cancer; information coding, decoding, transfer and translation in cancer; and de-convoluting cancer’s complexity. These ongoing efforts will enable experts to explore new and innovative approaches to better understand, diagnose, treat, and control cancer.

"I truly believe the initiative's objective of applying physical sciences and engineering perspectives and principles to cancer will lead to paradigm-shifting science toward understanding and, ultimately, treating the disease," said Larry Nagahara, Ph.D., NCI PS-OC program director. "I'm very excited with the team of world-class researchers assembled in these centers and that they will be working together as a collaborative network."

The PS-OCs will serve as focal points of a network that span across the United States and include:

  • Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz.
  • Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.
  • H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, Tampa, Fla.
  • Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md.
  • Massachusetts Institutes of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, N.Y.
  • Northwestern University, Chicago, Ill.
  • Princeton University, Princeton, N.J.
  • Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, Calif.
  • University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, Calif.
  • University of Southern California, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, Texas

Each of the awarded PS-OCs have convened several groups of experts that, individually and together, will support and nurture a trans-disciplinary environment and promote research that: (1) originates and tests novel, non-traditional physical-sciences based approaches to understand and control cancer; (2) generates independent sets of physical measurements and integrates them with existing knowledge of cancer; and (3) develops and evaluates approaches from the physical sciences to provide a comprehensive and dynamic picture of cancer.

Ultimately, through coordinated development and testing of novel approaches to studying the cancer processes, the network of PS-OCs are expected to generate new bodies of knowledge, in order to identify and define critical aspects of physics, chemistry, and engineering that operate at all levels in cancer processes.

Learn more about the PS-OCs.

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