Newswise — New Brunswick, N.J., October 21, 2015 – Helping to propel groundbreaking research in the field of precision medicine at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the Omar Boraie Chair in Genomic Science has been established. Considered the gold standard in higher education, endowed chairs express the commitment of a university to an academic discipline at the highest levels—and ensure its continued support and progression. The chair is named for New Brunswick developer Omar Boraie, who has made a $1.5 million pledge to support it. Establishment of the Omar Boraie Chair is part of Rutgers University’s ‘18 Chair Challenge’ campaign, in which an anonymous donor is providing a $1.5 million match to each of 18 new chairs resulting in a $3 million endowment each.
The field of genomic science and precision medicine is changing how medical professionals approach cancer diagnosis and treatment. Relatively new, it involves analyzing and treating tumors on a genetic level, allowing oncologists to prescribe individualized therapies for better outcomes. Attesting to its national importance during his most recent State of the Union Address, President Obama announced the launch of a national Precision Medicine Initiative focused on finding a cure for cancer and other diseases.
Although several cancer centers are performing next-generation gene sequencing on tumors for research, Rutgers Cancer Institute was one of the first facilities in the country and the only one in the state to apply genomic sequencing as a precision medicine approach to patient care. Genomic sequencing has been especially valuable in finding novel therapies for those who have rare cancers, poorer prognoses, and/or whose treatment options have been limited or ineffective. Advances in precision medicine increase the ability to classify cancers into subpopulations with similar characteristics but different genetics in order to predict better patient outcomes as well as determine individualized cancer therapies.
“Physician-scientists at Rutgers Cancer Institute are making significant advances with precision medicine for those patients whose cancers are no longer responsive. Imagine being able to apply that science to all cancer patients? I am hopeful this pledge will leverage the support of others so that this important work can satisfy and exceed that goal,” says Boraie, who has a background in chemistry and a long-standing interest in cancer research. “Just as the anonymous donor for the ‘18 Chair Challenge’ encouraged others to come forward, I hope my family’s pledge will also inspire others to do the same.”
“Mr. Boraie has long been an integral part of the development of New Brunswick as the ‘Healthcare City.’ His desire to support an endowed chair in genomic science will have a lasting impact on cancer research and the treatment of cancer patients not only in and around New Brunswick, but beyond – and we are grateful for his generosity,” notes Rutgers Cancer Institute Director Robert S. DiPaola, MD.
Shridar Ganesan, MD, PhD, associate director for translational science and principal investigator of the precision medicine clinical trial at Rutgers Cancer Institute as well as associate professor of medicine and pharmacology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, has been named to this chair. A medical oncologist internationally regarded as a top academic researcher and leader, Dr. Ganesan came to the Cancer Institute in 2005 from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School.
“What we have learned through the years is that cancer is not a single disease, but rather a collection of diseases, each with unique features. Instead of determining cancer type by only the organ in which it originates, time-saving genomic analysis opens the door for additional classification by the set of changes present in each cancer, which can guide more precise – or tailored – therapy,” notes Ganesan. “I am honored to be named the Omar Boraie Chair in Genomic Science. This pledge will help innovate clinical research to enable new understandings of cancer biology to benefit patients across even the most challenging disease sites, offering renewed hope for cancer patients and their families.”
About Rutgers Cancer Institute of New JerseyRutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey (www.cinj.org) is the state’s first and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. As part of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, the Cancer Institute of New Jersey is dedicated to improving the detection, treatment and care of patients with cancer, and to serving as an education resource for cancer prevention. Physician-scientists at the Cancer Institute engage in translational research, transforming their laboratory discoveries into clinical practice, quite literally bringing research to life. To make a tax-deductible gift to support the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, call 848-932-3637 or visit www.cinj.org/giving. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheCINJ.
The Cancer Institute of New Jersey Network is comprised of hospitals throughout the state and provides the highest quality cancer care and rapid dissemination of important discoveries into the community. Flagship Hospital: Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. System Partner: Meridian Health (Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Ocean Medical Center, Riverview Medical Center, Southern Ocean Medical Center, and Bayshore Community Hospital). Major Clinical Research Affiliate Hospitals: Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Morristown Medical Center and Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Overlook Medical Center. Affiliate Hospitals: JFK Medical Center, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton (CINJ Hamilton), and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset.