Newswise — New Brunswick, N.J., August 21, 2017 – Cancer researchers have learned that by sharing their knowledge and forming strategic partnerships, they can more rapidly advance their discoveries leading to drug development, clinical trials and ultimately new therapies for cancer patients. Thanks to $4 million in combined support, including $2 million in funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, physician-scientists at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey are embarking on a new collaboration with the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) intramural Center for Cancer Research (CCR). NCI is part of the National Institutes of Health.

The two-year project will explore new drug development along with how to optimize existing cancer drugs for the treatment of cancers that arise due to mistakes made in the repair of DNA. Another focus of the research is to learn more about the genetics behind tumor development so that therapies can be better tailored to patients.

Common genetic mutations such as BRCA1 or BRCA2 put women at a higher risk of developing breast or ovarian cancers, and BRCA2 is the most common inherited mutation in men with metastatic prostate cancer (Pritchard, et al., N Engl J Med 2016). As a result, targeted therapies have been developed to treat these cancers, but not all patients respond to these treatments. Other cancers that stem from mutations in other DNA repair genes lack effective therapies.  It is for these reasons that Rutgers Cancer Institute, New Jersey’s only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the NCI’s CCR will leverage their overlapping research successes in this area to tackle this problem.

“Many cancers result from errors in DNA repair, thus funding research efforts in this area is critical,” says Rutgers Cancer Institute Director Steven K. Libutti, MD, FACS, who is also senior vice president of oncology services for RWJBarnabas Health. “This new research partnership will accelerate the discovery of cancer therapies and clinical trials, and will also allow us to leverage data and results from this work into potential funding for future projects. Together with the NCI’s Center for Cancer Research, we are committed to rapidly improving our knowledge base in this area,” he adds.

The CCR is the NCI’s largest division in its intramural research program with nearly 250 basic and clinical research groups working on cutting-edge cancer research. The CCR’s mission is to improve the lives of cancer patients by solving important, challenging and neglected problems in cancer research and patient care. It seeks to support long-term projects and foster collaboration among academia, private industry and NCI cancer centers across the country.

“This partnership will hopefully accelerate laboratory discoveries into clinical treatments that will benefit cancer patients across the nation,” says Scientific Director for Clinical Research at NCI’s CCR William Dahut, MD. “We look forward to leveraging the unique strengths of CCR’s intramural program with our partner NCI-designated cancer centers.”

“The support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in conjunction with the NCI not only allows our world-renowned scientists at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey to make faster progress in the fight against cancer, but sends a strong signal to other potential funders that this area of research holds tremendous promise. We are sincerely grateful for this important partnership,” notes Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences Vice President for Development Will Green.

While support for this research was provided in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.

About Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey ( is the state’s first and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. As part of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Rutgers Cancer Institute is dedicated to improving the detection, treatment and care of patients with cancer, and to serving as an education resource for cancer prevention both at its flagship New Brunswick location and at its Newark campus at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey at University Hospital. Physician-scientists across Rutgers Cancer Institute also engage in translational research, transforming their laboratory discoveries into clinical practice that supports patients on both campuses. To make a tax-deductible gift to support the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, call 848-932-8013 or visit Follow us on Facebook at