The University of Virginia Cancer Center was renewed this month as one of 66 National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Centers in the country, according to a news release from the center.
The center is one of two Virginia facilities with the designation.
To earn the renewal, the center submitted a 950-page proposal detailing efforts from the past five years and plans for the next five years.
In June 2011, a group of 20 scientists and clinicians from other cancer centers visited the center, where they heard presentations on its cancer care and research.
The center was granted a rating of “outstanding,” the release said.
The designation comes with a $2.29 million grant to support cancer research programs.
The previous NCI grant paid for 30 new faculty members and staff to manage clinical trials and technology, such as DNA-sequencing equipment, that aids researchers in pilot projects to develop potential treatment breakthroughs.
One program, led by John H. Bushweller, a molecular physiology and biological physics professor, is working to develop drugs to prevent the formation and growth of leukemia-causing cancer cells, unlike existing chemotherapy treatments that target and kill all rapidly growing cells, both healthy and cancerous.
Such drugs could be more effective and less toxic for patients, the release said.
The center’s goal for the next five years is to achieve NCI designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Comprehensive Cancer Centers are recognized for their efforts to better integrate their expertise in research, education and care with surrounding communities.
In a first step toward achieving the goal, the center used state funding to form the Virginia Cancer Network, the release said.
The money is being used to support partnerships for clinical research and develop partnerships with the Virginia biotechnology industry.