Fall 2019 Breakthroughs Message from the Director

Fall 2019 Breakthroughs Cover

Shaping the Future of Cancer Care

Michael Kastan, MD, PhD

I HAVE EXCITING NEWS TO SHARE FROM DUKE CANCER INSTITUTE (DCI). After many months of preparation and an extensive review process, DCI was renewed as a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center for another five-year period.

This award means that we retain the elite designation of a “comprehensive” cancer center, an honor held by only 51 institutions in the United States. The accompanying five-year grant of approximately $30 million supports our broad range of clinical, research, and educational programs, which aim to reduce the impact of cancer on the lives of people in North Carolina and beyond.

As one of the original eight compre­hensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), our cancer center has been continuously funded by NCI since 1973. So, while this grant renewal is not a new infu­sion of funding, it does mean that NCI recognizes DCI’s continuing leadership in shaping cancer research and care.

I am also happy to share with you some of our recent investments in one of our priority focus areas—cancer immunotherapies (treatments that boost the immune system’s own ability to fight cancer).

In addition to running industry-sponsored clinical trials of these treatments, DCI has untapped potential to develop and test truly novel immunotherapies based on discoveries made right here at Duke.

To build on that opportunity, we have launched the new DCI Center for Cancer Immunotherapy. Leaders of this center (see “Accelerating Immuno­therapy,” page 10) are partnering with the outstanding talent across Duke to accomplish the many steps required to move new immunotherapy discoveries from the research lab into a human clinical study.

Friends and donors like you are vital partners in this work. Without you, many promising therapies would never get beyond a culture dish or a mouse study. Donations can provide support to gather early data to prove that a new discovery is worth invest­ment from a large funding agency.

With your help, we will build upon our strengths and advance new prior­ities like immunotherapy to achieve our mission of delivering tomorrow’s cancer care…today.

Will you please join us?

Michael Kastan signature

Michael B. Kastan, MD, PhD
Executive Director, Duke Cancer Institute
William and Jane Shingleton Professor,
Pharmacology and Cancer Biology
Professor of Pediatrics

This message appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of Breakthroughs, a magazine produced twice yearly by Duke Cancer Institute Office of Development. Subscribe to Breakthroughs.

In This Issue

Fall 2019 Breakthroughs cover

Taking a new finding from the lab to the clinic can be a long slog up a steep hill. The new DCI Center for Cancer Immunotherapy helps researchers with the climb. Read

FIGHTING SIDE EFFECTS By Mary-Russell Roberson and Angela Spivey
Despite battling some major side effects, melanoma survivor Stephen Totty believes immunotherapy saved his life. Read

Can research make immunotherapies work better, for more people? Read 

A LIVING DRUG By Mary-Russell Roberson
The promise of CAR-T Therapy. Read

A TALE OF TWO DRUGS By Whitney Palmer
Man's best friends are helping create new treatments for osteosarcoma. Read

AT THE HEART OF IT By Whitney Palmer
What is beating cancer means weakening what beats in the chest? Read

THE MIRACLE MAN By Angela Spivey
Bob Porter has survived six different types of cancer, with the help of Joe Moore, MD. Read

As a Duke alumnus, Ross Bierkan has long supported efforts at his alma mater. But he decided to give to melanoma research because of personal experience. Read

CIRCLE PHOTO (TOP): Metastatic melanoma survivor Stephen Totty with sons Harrison and Craig and wife, Heather. Totty currently shows no evidence of cancer thanks to treatment with immunotherapy. (Photo by Alex Boerner).