UCSF doubles size of cancer labs with new center

June 9, 2009 9:56:03 AM PDT
A new state-of-the-art cancer research center opened on Tuesday, bringing all of UCSF's cancer researchers together under the same roof. It's being described as a world-class facility that holds great promise.

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The Helen Diller Family Foundation poured $35 million into UCSF's cancer research building located on the Mission Bay campus. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was led by Diller's grandchildren.

So what makes this new research facility so unique is that it now houses all of UCSF's cancer researchers in one place. This ability to work shoulder to shoulder has multiple benefits.

UCSF chancellor Michael Bishop is a 1989 Nobel Prize recipient.

"It's given them a proximity to some of the best scientists at UCSF, in fact some of the best scientists in the world," said UCSF Chancellor Dr. Michael Bishop.

Russ Pieper is a researcher working on brain tumors.

"You can get some help, some directions. You're project might end up merging with other people's projects," said Pieper, Ph.D.

There will be 33 labs working together.

"A lot of the techniques these days are highly sophisticated and we can't actually afford to duplicate systems at multiple sites. So having people in one place you have access to the same equipment," said UCSF researcher Rosemary Akhurst, Ph.D.

Funding for cancer research was cut during the past administration mainly for budget reasons. Today, there is renewed enthusiasm with the Obama White House.

"Ninety percent of all grants we submitted were rejected. So there was a high attrition rate in science especially for young people who were intimidated by the whole process, but now that funding level has been increased," said Dr. Mitchel Berger from UCSF Brain Tumor Research Center.

"And the intention of the group is to do science that is going to make a difference for patients, develop better therapy better care for patients," said Pieper, Ph.D.

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