ECU, UNC Team Up on Cancer Care, Research
By Doug Boyd
The University of North Carolina’s two medical schools and their cancer centers have created a partnership to advance cancer research and bring leading-edge treatment to North Carolinians.
Officials of East Carolina University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the UNC system have signed an agreement outlining basic aspects of an arrangement where they will work together to improve cancer care for North Carolinians and further research into the state’s leading cause of death.
“Service to North Carolina is a key part of the university’s mission, and this new partnership involving our two highly respected medical schools will help us advance and expand how we care for cancer patients, train physicians, and conduct collaborative research that benefits our citizens,” said UNC President Erskine Bowles. “Working together, medical faculty and scientists at ECU and UNC-Chapel Hill can accomplish far more than they could individually. This is truly a case where two plus two can equal five.”
Physicians, scientists and administrators at UNC and ECU will collaborate on research projects, patient care programs and recruitment of physicians and scientists to boost efforts to develop improved treatments and prevention strategies for cancer as well as translate scientific discovery to clinical benefit.
ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard said the agreement the schools signed in December “represents another significant partnership in medical education with UNC-Chapel Hill. It will be important to the Leo Jenkins Cancer Center, to the Brody School of Medicine at ECU, and, most importantly, to the citizens of North Carolina.”
The Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center at ECU and the Lineberger Cancer Center at UNC-Chapel Hill already work together in some areas, said Dr. Adam Asch, associate director of the Jenkins Center. For example, oncology fellows at ECU travel to Chapel Hill to study bone marrow transplantation. Areas where the institutions might further cooperate include opening a clinic at ECU for pre- and post-transplant patients, expanding clinical trials to provide access and accrual to patients at both centers, giving ECU faculty members access to Lineberger facilities and research projects, and cancer survivorship.
“This important partnership will strengthen cancer research and care by creating an increased flow of ideas, clinical trials, prevention strategy projects, training opportunities and technologic advancements between our two institutions,” said Dr. Shelton Earp, UNC Lineberger director.
Physicians from the two schools participated in a Jan. 24 “listening tour” stop in Greenville to hear ideas from the public on areas to study using the University Cancer Research Fund. Last year, the N.C. General Assembly established the fund to accelerate and advance discoveries and treatments for North Carolinians whose lives are touched by cancer.
Established at UNC-Chapel Hill, the fund will receive $25 million in 2007-2008 and $50 million a year beginning in 2009.
“We were all delighted to vote for this in the General Assembly,” said Rep. Marian McLawhorn of Grifton, who attended the listening event.
In 2006, cancer passed heart disease as the leading cause of death in North Carolina. The American Cancer Society estimated that in 2007 more than 34,000 North Carolinians were diagnosed with cancer and close to 17,000 would die from their disease.
North Carolinians were diagnosed with cancer and close to 17,000 would die from their disease.