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Health, Science & Tech

UPMC Cancer Center Rated 'Outstanding' By National Cancer Institute

The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) has been rated “outstanding” by the National Cancer Institute and has been designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“Each five years we have to go through a process of self-assessment and an evaluation by outside colleagues and we’re really please this year we were labeled as ‘outstanding’ among the most elite, and of course we’re extremely excited about the funding that this brings to help to support our important research and care missions,” said Dr. Nancy E. Davidson, director of UPCI and UPMC Cancer Center.

That designation also comes with a grant.

“The funding is about $25 million over five years, and it helps to fund the infrastructure to support our research and clinical trials at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute,” said Davidson.

That research includes studies such as DNA repair and its role in developing cancer or the ties between the immune system and a predisposition to cancer. In addition, Davidson said clinical trials looking at different types of cancers are critical along with community health education.

“Lung cancer, head and neck cancer, breast and ovarian cancer, melanoma and other skin cancers,” said Davidson, “and we’re interested in what we call ‘population health,’ the kinds of things that help people reduce their risk of cancer like smoking cessation.”

With 320 faculty members from 42 Pitt departments, UPCI received $68 million in annual funding from NCI in 2015 to support cancer research activities. UPCI is one of 45 UNI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation and the only one in western Pennsylvania. It has held the designation since 1990.