U.S. Rep. Tim Holden announces $3.2 million for cancer research

January 11, 2010

U.S. Rep. Tim Holden (PA-17) today announced a $3.2 million appropriation he successfully included in the Department of Defense appropriation for fiscal year 2010 for the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute at Penn State Hershey Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. In the past seven years, Holden has helped to secure nearly $37 million in federal funding for cancer research and enhanced patient care in Hershey.

The funds announced today will support the Penn State Center for Pharmacogenetics, which will create a repository of samples from individual cancer patients treated by Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute. Researchers will use what they learn from comparing these samples to develop more effective ways to treat and prevent cancer.

Holden made the announcement during an event at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, which included remarks from Harold L. Paz, chief executive officer of the Medical Center, Penn State’s senior vice president for health affairs and dean of the College of Medicine; and Tom Loughran, director of the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute.

“I am pleased this funding will be used for the National Functional Genomics Center Collaborating Site,” Holden said. “This site will allow individuals to respond in the most positive way to chemotherapy and radiation-based therapies for cancer treatment or prevention.”

Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute is an affiliate member of the U.S. Department of Defense National Functional Genomics Center (NFGC), which was established by Congress in 2002 to accelerate nationally coordinated cutting-edge translational research on cancer.

The NFGC was created to bridge the gap between pure science and patient care and will accelerate applied, translational research by bringing together partners from government, industry and academia. The NFGC uses this network to develop strategic alliances that will produce benefits that directly apply to future military health care effectiveness and efficiency, while aggressively advancing the war on cancer -- a disease that causes the death of more than 500,000 Americans each year.

Specimens from the Center for Pharmacogenetics cancer repository will be used to determine individual responses to therapeutic drugs and environmental toxins with the aim of identifying specific gene variations, or molecular signatures that will accelerate the identification of new molecular variants and ultimately lead to development of more effective and personalized cancer therapies and prevention. Phillip Lazarus, associate director of the Cancer Institute, program leader for cancer control and population sciences, and professor of pharmacology, will serve as director of the Center for Pharmacogenetics.

Cancer is a very complex disease. The genetic make-up of tumor types varies greatly and the genetics of each individual patient adds to the complexity.

“The best chance for a cancer patient to beat his or her disease lies with the first treatment. However, each patient’s genetic makeup may cause them to react differently to the same treatment for similar tumor types,” Loughran said. “If we can better predict the interaction of tumor genetics and the genetics of individuals with prescribed cancer therapies before treatment begins, we can improve the care and outcomes for cancer patients and minimize the potential side effects of treatment.”

Paz offered appreciation to Holden for his long-standing support of cancer research and care at Penn State.

“Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute is a leader in cancer treatment and research thanks in large part to the efforts of Congressman Holden and the appropriations he has been able to secure for us over the years,” Paz said. “These new funds will help us continue to translate the knowledge gained through cutting-edge scientific research into state-of-the-art health care that will benefit our patients, their families and our region.”

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated January 14, 2010