Center to Open New Directions for Cancer Research

EVANSTON, Ill. — Northwestern University has been awarded a $13.6 million five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to establish an interdisciplinary research center for the study of genes and their role in cancer. A better understanding of the mechanisms could lead to better diagnostics and therapeutics and open up new directions for research.

Northwestern’s Physical Sciences-Oncology Center (PS-OC), one of 12 established nationwide by the NCI, brings together physical scientists and cancer biologists to use non-traditional, physical-sciences based approaches to understand and control cancer.

“Our center will be studying the regulation and expression of genes in both normal health and development and in cancer,” said principal investigator Jonathan Widom, the William Deering Professor in Biological Sciences in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. “We need to understand healthy cells to understand and control cancer.”

The PC-OS initiative is expected to generate new knowledge in order to identify and define critical aspects of physics, chemistry and engineering that shape and govern the emergence and behavior of cancer at all scales.

“By bringing a fresh set of eyes to the study of cancer, these new centers have great potential to advance, and sometimes challenge, accepted theories about cancer and its supportive microenvironment,” said NCI Director John E. Niederhuber, M.D. “Physical scientists think in terms of time, space, pressure, heat, and evolution in ways that we hope will lead to new understandings of the multitude of forces that govern cancer — and with that understanding, we hope to develop new and innovative methods of arresting tumor growth and metastasis.”

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