Today, we announced creation of a new UMHS Translational Oncology program to be housed at the North Campus Research Complex and led by Diane Simeone, M.D. This program will strengthen the bridge between our tremendous strength in basic science and our excellent clinical care.
I first heard the impressive vision for a UMHS Translational Oncology program from Cancer Center director Max Wicha within my first few months at Michigan. Since then, he, Diane and others in the Health System have worked diligently to bring this idea to fruition.
The new program will bring together scientists from diverse areas, as well as industry partners, thus promoting multidisciplinary collaboration and innovation. The program fulfills the mission and vision of the NCRC, which are to expand the University’s capabilities as one of the nation’s top translational research institutions and create a world of fast-paced scientific discovery that ignites improvements to humanity’s health and well-being.
At the same time, it is one of many efforts that will ‘move the needle’ on our cancer-related strategic goals and, thus, move us closer to achieving our institutional vision of creating the future of health care through discovery and establishing UMHS as a national leader in health care and biomedical innovation.
As Diane says, the new Translational Oncology program will provide an opportunity to “really make a difference in patients’ lives – which is the real reason we are all here.”
I can think of no one more suited to direct this new program and ensure its success than Diane. She has served as the director of the Gastrointestinal Oncology Program at the Cancer Center since 2005 and is a world-renowned leader in pancreatic cancer surgery. Her lab was the first to identify cancer stem cells in pancreatic tumors, and has translated this finding into clinical trials testing new treatments aimed at the cancer stem cells. Additionally, she is co-PI on the GI SPORE (Specialized Program in Research Excellence) grant and was part of the team responsible for the original work defining the genes important in pancreatic cancer development and progression. Nationally, she has served as president of the American Pancreatic Association.
This is an exciting initiative for our Health System and one that holds tremendous promise in the fight against cancer. Please join me in congratulating Diane and taking great pride in the exemplary science taking place in our Health System.