"Rhode Island Hospital has done outstanding work in this field, and I am pleased it will continue to receive federal funds to support cancer research. This federal investment will help Rhode Island Hospital transform lab discoveries into patient treatment and attract more elite researchers to the state", stated United States Senator Jack Reed, who supported the programme and serves on the Appropriations subcommittee which oversees federal funding for NIH programmes.
One area within the COBRE CCRD is proteomics - the identification and quantification of proteins with the goal of determining how they interact, how their expression changes by disease and how they are modified by environmental change. This type of basic research has the potential to go from "bench to bedside", by identifying breakthroughs that will translate to changes in the treatment of patients with cancer. Another area within the COBRE CCRD is molecular pathology, which deals with the characterization of the molecular and cellular events critical to the development of cancer, with the goal of identifying biomarkers with diagnostic and prognostic potential.
Peter Snyder, Lifespan's vice president of research, stated: "The renewal of this grant shows the NIH's recognition of the valuable research being performed here at Rhode Island Hospital's CCRD. In addition, it helps to solidify our role of supporting the Rhode Island economy by increasing the research and biotechnology being done locally."
Under the leadership of principal investigator Douglas Hixson, PhD, the centre received its first grant in 2003. Douglas Hixson stated: "Over the past five years we have established an infrastructure and the technology to support basic research in the area of gastro-intestinal cancer and to engage investigators in developing new research initiatives centered around the role of adult stem cells in the genesis of cancer."
He further noted: "This year we also received a $500.000 economic stimulus fund grant that allowed our proteomics core to purchase a state-of-the art imaging mass spectrometer. By allowing investigators to identify proteins differentially expressed in malignant and normal cells by directly scanning tissue sections, this exciting new technology will accelerate the identification of biomarkers by directly linking the fields of proteomics and molecular pathology."
"This award will enable these investigators to continue to build their capacity to perform state-of-the-art research in specific cancers, such as in gastro-intestinal tumours", stated NCRR Director Barbara Alving, MD. "The centre will also provide excellent opportunities to train new generations of biomedical researchers."
Since its opening in 2003, the centre has already made discoveries that have broadened knowledge of different types of cancer. Douglas Hixson explained: "We've identified a new mode of transmitting signals regulating the growth and spread of cancer, a new gene that determines sensitivity to anti cancer drugs, another gene elevated by acid reflux that increases the risk of esophageal cancer and two novel tumour suppressor genes whose loss elevates the risk of stomach cancer.
"The renewal of our grant provides us with an outstanding potential for groundbreaking research in our centre", he commented. Over the next five years, the centre will focus its efforts on generating new avenues of research by facilitating collaboration among cancer investigators within the CCRD and at other universities and hospitals in Rhode Island. Douglas Hixson stated: "Of particular interest will be research aimed at identifying characteristics of cancer stem cells that could serve as therapeutic targets. We also expect our new imaging mass spectrometer to become a catalyst for collaborative interactions aimed at developing novel clinical and basic research applications for this largely unexplored technology."
Peter Snyder concluded: "Not only are we helping to fuel our local economy, but overall, our research may someday prove to be the key to unlocking medical breakthroughs that may completely change the course of cancer treatment to improve outcomes. We look forward to that day."
Founded in 1863, Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, is a private, not-for-profit hospital and is the largest teaching hospital of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. A major trauma center for southeastern New England, the hospital is dedicated to being on the cutting edge of medicine and research. Many of its physicians are recognized as leaders in their respective fields of cancer, cardiology, diabetes, emergency medicine and trauma, neuroscience, orthopaedics, paediatrics, radiation oncology and surgery. Rhode Island Hospital receives nearly $50 million each year in external research funding. It is home to Hasbro Children's Hospital, the state's only facility dedicated to paediatric care, which is ranked among the top 30 children's hospitals in the country by Parents magazine. Rhode Island Hospital is a founding member of the Lifespan health system.