at UC Berkeley and UCSF have formed a research center to explore the
physical principles that govern the origin and behavior of cancer
cells, and how they multiply in humans.
a five-year, $15.6 million grant from the National Cancer Institute,
the UC researchers have formed the Physical Sciences-Oncology Center
where they will seek to understand the mysterious ways that cancer -
its onset and responses to radiation and chemotherapy - are subject to
the laws of physics.
The NCI announced the new grant Monday and said that related centers
with similar goals have been created at 11 other major universities and
research centers, and that all the groups will be collaborating with
Physicists, chemists, engineers and mathematicians will be linked
with physicians to probe the mechanisms of the disease's many aspects.
Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UCSF's
Helen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center also will be included.
The other centers are at Arizona State, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, MIT,
Northwestern, Princeton, Southern California and Texas, as well as the
Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla (San Diego County), the H. Lee
Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, and the Memorial-Sloan Kettering Center
in New York.
The first year of grants for the 12 centers will total $22.7
million, coming from stimulus funds under the National Recovery Act,
according to a spokesman for the NCI. The national total is expected to
exceed $250 million over five years.
"By bringing a fresh set of eyes to the study of cancer, these new
centers have a great potential to advance, and sometimes challenge,
accepted theories about cancer and its supportive microenvironment,"
said Dr. John E. Niederhuber, the NCI director. "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."
Director of the new UC center is Berkeley research biophysicist Jan
T. Liphardt, and the co-director is UCSF pathologist Thea Tlsty.
Neither could be reached for comment.