Newswise — In 1973, the University of Pennsylvania established a cancer center to serve as the focus and stimulus for all cancer-related activities at the University. In 1974, it was designated as a comprehensive cancer center by NCI and in 2002, it was renamed the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The mission of the Center is the eradication of cancer as a cause of human disease and suffering. The Abramson Cancer Center (ACC) seeks to achieve this through relentless progress in basic research, innovative translation of new knowledge through clinical trials, and state-of-the-art, compassionate cancer care.

The 318 faculty members in the Abramson Cancer Center support 11 research programs that bring together investigators from 37 departments and eight school at the University of Pennsylvania with a shared interest in specific types of cancer or scientific themes. The goal of the Abramson Cancer Center is to facilitate collaborations that would otherwise not be possible in a traditional cancer center organized by departments. The research teams are multidisciplinary, bringing together experts in laboratory, translational and clinical research. In addition to robust research programs for cancers of all kinds, teams are investigating cancer prevention and control, novel therapeutics, immune and gene therapies, radiobiology and imaging, tobacco and environmental carcinogenesis, tumor biology, and tumor virology.

Cancer treatment at the Center is provided by multidisciplinary teams that include physicians – medical oncologists, surgeons, and radiation oncologists – nurses, patient support specialists, cancer counselors, dietitians, and rehabilitation therapists. The Abramson Cancer Center offers a full range of clinical trials to its cancer patients, and the Madlyn and Leonard Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute allows patients to benefit directly from basic and translational research efforts that are accelerating the process of discovery between the lab and the clinic.

Cancer genetics is a large focus of the Abramson Cancer Center’s clinical practice and research agenda. Medical geneticists work closely with other physicians and genetic counselors to help patients and their families dealing with diagnosis or risk of inherited cancers. The Basser Research Center for BRCA, established in 2012, for example, is the nation’s only center devoted to research on the prevention and treatment of cancers associated with the BRCA 1 and 2 mutations.

Penn Medicine’s new Center for Personalized Diagnostics, a joint initiative of the department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine and the Abramson Cancer Center, offers next generation DNA sequencing that can refine patient diagnoses with greater precision than standard imaging tests and blood work, all with an aim to broaden treatment options and improve their efficacy. Armed with information about rare mutations within patients’ tumors, Abramson Cancer Centers oncologists are able to pair patients with novel targeted therapies and detect resistance mutations that could slow or halt patients’ response to drugs, which allows for custom-designed combination therapies to attack tumors through multiple pathways.

The Abramson Cancer Center also provides assistance for cancer survivors through its Living Well After Cancer™ Program and LIVESTRONG Care Plan powered by Oncolink. A full range of support services are provided during and following treatment, from dietary plans to rehabilitation programs. The Center takes a holistic approach to care, addressing the psycho-social and physical needs of patients. The Abramson Cancer Center’s Penn Integrative Oncology program, for example, offers support for patients who seek complementary or integrative medicine and wellness services to supplement traditional treatment services. The program also includes a research component aimed at assessing the effectiveness of these modalities to manage side and late effects of cancer therapies and establish best practices for their use.

Additional institutions at the University of Pennsylvania related to the ACC’s work are the Center for Cancer Pharmacology, the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, the Center of Excellence in Cancer Communication Research, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, the Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology, Center for Digestive, Liver, and Pancreatic Medicine, the Penn Genome Frontiers Institute, Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics, and the Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center.

The full range of cancer therapies are offered at the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine on the Abramson Cancer Center’s main building on the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania campus, including proton therapy at the Roberts Proton Therapy Center. Additional sites where Abramson Cancer Center clinicians care for patients include Penn Medicine Cherry Hill, Penn Medicine Valley Forge, and at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center and Pennsylvania Hospital.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Abramson Cancer Center is a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center. These centers are characterized by scientific excellence and the capability to integrate a diversity of research approaches to focus on the problem of cancer. They play a vital role in advancing towards NCI's goal of reducing morbidity and mortality from cancer.

This piece does not necessarily represent the views of the National Institutes of Health.