Commission on Cancer Research
2000 Annual Report
"Dedicated to Conquering Cancer Through Scientific Research"
|The Honorable Donald T. DiFrancesco
Dear Governor DiFrancesco:
Consistent with its legislative mandate, the Commission focused its efforts during the past year on basic research directed to increase our understanding of this disease and reduce morbidity and mortality related to the disease. Toward this goal, the Commission awarded twelve grants for basic, clinical, and psychosocial research,seven pre-doctoral and post-doctoral research fellowships, and fifteen summer research fellowships, designed to encourage college students to pursue careers in cancer research.
The Commission has long recognized that research carried out in a vacuum has reduced value, and in this regard, we continue to serve as a catalyst and supporter of educational and research meetings. This year, the International Conference on Advances in Cancer Immunology, the Annual Retreat on Cancer Research in New Jersey and the Conference on Cancer Survivorship Throughout the Life-span, brought together hundreds of consumers, educators and scientists, in an atmosphere conducive to networking and program development, and in a way designed to highlight New Jersey's strengths in these programs. Additionally, as part of its responsibility in more broad-based cancer control efforts, the Commission is working closely with the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, the University of Medicine and Dentistry School of Public Health, the American Cancer Society, and The Cancer Institute of New Jersey to develop a Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan for New Jersey. Additional details regarding all of these efforts can be found in the body of this report.
In conclusion, I would be remiss in not mentioning a significant transition issue for the Commission. After 15 years of tireless and extraordinary efforts, Frederick Cohen, M.D. made the difficult decision to step down as the Founding Chairman of the Commission. Although Dr. Cohen will remain a Commission member, his leadership will be sorely missed by all citizens of New Jersey.
On behalf of the Commission members and all citizens of
New Jersey, I want to express my sincere gratitude for your efforts and
support of cancer control activities and wish you well in your future,
To ensure that the citizens of New Jersey receive the fullest benefit of our nation's fight against cancer through the promotion and funding of research into the causes, prevention and treatment of cancer.
State of New Jersey
Working Together to Eradicate Cancer
Everything we do as Commission members, staff and volunteers working in support of The New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research (NJCCR), is to fulfill our mission to eradicate cancer and enhance the life of those living with cancer in New Jersey.
The NJCCR was established in 1983 (Cancer Research Act of 1983 - P.L.83,Ch.6) to promote and fund significant cancer research projects proposed and carried out by New Jersey scientists. The Act dedicates annually a sum of no less than $1 million to the NJCCR to fund research into the causes, prevention and treatment of cancer. The Commission's ten members, who are appointed by the Governor with the consent of the Senate, are distinguished leaders from the scientific, medical, and business communities. The members, along with NJCCR staff and hundreds of volunteers, strive to make the state competitive in the area of cancer research. The primary activity of the Commission is the funding of scientifically peer reviewed cancer research grants and training fellowships at eligible nonprofit institutions throughout the state.
Since 1983, we have been making a difference in the lives of New Jerseyans by helping to educate them about the early signs of cancer, offering programs and services to those experiencing cancer, advocating for healthy public policy, and of course, funding innovative cancer research leading to better treatment and prevention strategies.
In 2000, over 40,000 New Jerseyans learned they had cancer and 18,100 died of the disease (American Cancer Society 2000 estimates). The New Jersey State Cancer Registry estimates that there are currently over 275,000 citizens living with a history of cancer in our state. New Jersey also consistently ranks among the ten highest states for cancer incidence and mortality. It is for these reasons that the Commission is dedicated to carrying out its mandate.
Early on in its development, the Commission recognized that the only sure strategy for success was to invest in the most talented people. With this in mind, the Commission has consistently supported emerging research talent seeking to break into the competitive world of cancer research and senior investigators embarking on new research directions. The Commission uses an NIH system of scientific peer review in making its awards and this assures a rigorous and fair approach to all of its endeavors.
We've made great strides over the last 17 years awarding over $15.6 million for 237 grants and over $4.4 million for 192 summer, pre- and post-doctoral fellowships to date. However, as a new millennium is now upon us, we must strive to do more to carry out our mandate.
International Conference on Advances in Cancer Immunology
The International Conference on Advances in Cancer Immunology was presented by the Center for Molecular Medicine and Immunology at the Garden State Cancer Center and the New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research. This two-and-a-half day conference, held March 2-4, 2000, at the Princeton Marriott, brought together over 150 cancer researchers from around the world to discuss their work and develop collaborations in the field of immunotherapy.
Four general areas were covered including cancer vaccines, cell-based therapies, immunconjugates of drugs & toxins and radioimmunoconjugates. Oral presentations and posters emphasized the translation of immunotherapy from the laboratory to the clinic. It is expected that the proceedings will appear in the journal Critical Reviews in Oncology and Hematology in the near future.
Session Chairpersons included Gerald L. DeNardo, M.D., Professor of Internal Medicine, Radiology and Pathlogy, University of California-Davis, Sacremento, CA; Dorothee Herlyn, D.V.M., Professor and Chair, Immunology Program, Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, PA; David Parkinson, M.D., Vice President for Clinical Research, Novartis Pharmaceutical Corp., East Hanover, NJ; Ira Pastan, M.D., Chief, Laboratory of Molecular Biology, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD; Ralph A. Reisfeld, Ph.D., Professor, Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA; Jeffrey Schlom, Ph.D., Chief, Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology, National Cancer Institue, Bethesda, MD; Ellen S. Viteta, Ph.D., Professor of Microbiology and Director, Cancer Immunobiology Center, UT-Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX; Louis M. Weiner, M.D., Senior Member and Chairman, Department of Medical Oncology, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA; and Christine A. White, M.D., Senior Director, Oncology and Hematology, IDEC Pharmaceuticals Co., San Diego, CA.
Speakers included Kenneth A Foon, M.D., Director, Barrett Cancer Center, University of Cincinnati, OH; Stephen D. Gillies, Ph.D., President, Lexigen Pharmaceuticals Corp., Lexington, MA; Richard P. Junghans, Ph.D., M.D., Director, Biotherapeutics Development Lab, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA; Donald L. Morton, M.D., Medical Director and Surgeon-in-Chief, John Wayne Cancer Institute, Santa Monica, CA; Gert Riethmuller, M.D., Professor, Institute fur Immunology, University of Munich, Germany; Susanna M. Rybak, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Developmental Therapeutics Program, National Cancer Institute, Frederick, MD; and Shimon Slavin, M.D., Professor and Chairman, Dept. of Bone Marrow Transplantation, Hadassah Hospital, Jerusalem, Israel.
2000 Annual Retreat on Cancer Research
The Commission on Cancer Research and The Cancer Institute of New Jersey cosponsored the "Annual Retreat on Cancer Research" on May 9-10, 2000 at the Princeton Marriott. The format for this conference was very different than previous years, adding a public forum and a special nursing and psychosocial program in addition to the traditional general session.
The public forum focused on advances in cancer research and treatment in the year 2000. A panel of expert researchers from New Jersey presented perspectives on the following subjects: nutrition and cancer prevention, angiogenesis, emerging new drugs for therapy, genetics of cancer, and complementary medicine. The program proved to be a great success, attracting over 100 cancer survivors, friends and family.
The nursing and psychosocial program attracted close to 75 health care professionals to learn of each others work, share ideas, and develop collaborations. The keynote address was given by David Cella, PhD, Professor of Psychology & Behavior Science at the Institute for Health Services Research and Policy at Northwestern University. Dr. Cella discussed his findings surrounding quality of life issues. This insightful talk was followed by a plenary/poster discussion session.
Over 450 cancer researchers, health care professionals and students from throughout New Jersey, enjoyed the general session. Keynote speakers included Leonard B. Saltz, M.D., Associate Attending Physician, GI Services, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center who spoke on the advances in the treatment of GI cancer and Carlo Croce, M.D., Director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University who spoke on the genetics of human cancer.
The day ended with an award ceremony to honor the talented graduate and postdoctoral students who competed for the NJ Cancer Research Award for Scientific Excellence. Bristol-Meyers Squibb served as the major sponsor of the program and the following state's leading pharmaceutical companies sponsored the awards:
New Jersey Breast Cancer Research Fund
The New Jersey Breast Cancer Research Fund, which is fueled by contributions through a state income tax return, had a monumental year in 1999. The Fund finished number one in donations, raising over $249,000 for breast cancer research.
When combined with private donations and other special project revenues, the NJCCR will be able to award more grants, fellowships and scholarships to breast cancer researchers throughout the state.
The Conquer Cancer License Plate
The NJCCR also administers the proceeds raised through the Conquer Cancer license plate. The plate is available at your local Division of Motor Vehicles and can be purchased at any time during the registration cycle for $50 (over $40 goes to cancer research), with a $10 annual renewal fee (100% of the renewal fee goes to cancer research projects).
To date, over 18,690 plates have been sold, raising more than $880,000 for cancer research. With the consistent success of the license plate, New Jersey cancer researchers can look forward to increased budgets in upcoming grant cycles.
Building a Comprehensive
Despite the efforts of many people and programs throughout the state to prevent cancer, detect it early, treat it successfully and assure quality of life, New Jersey still has some of the highest rates of cancer in the country. In response, cancer experts, public health officers, community leaders, advocates and health care professionals met frequently this year to work on improving the coordination of their cancer control activities in order to maximize resources and achieve desired cancer prevention and control outcomes.
The first phase of this meeting was held on July 11, 2000 at the Doral Forrestal Conference Center in Princeton, New Jersey. This meeting was successful in developing a common baseline knowledge that defined the elements of comprehensive cancer control based upon scientific thinking and provided an understanding of the process required to develop an integrated and collaborative approach to cancer control at the state level.
Experts from outside the state such as Nancy Lee, M.D., Director for Cancer Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA; Robert Hiatt, M.D., Deputy Director, Cancer Control & Populations Sciences, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD; and Hugh Stallworth, M.D., MPH, American Cancer Society, National Headquarters, Atlanta, GA, presented their knowledge and experiences in building a successful comprehensive cancer control program and how to implement these effective strategies into existing programs in New Jersey.
The second phase of this program was held on November 21, 2000 at the Woodbridge Hilton, Woodbridge, New Jersey. This interactive workshop was designed to open channels of communication with community leaders, grassroots organizations and advocacy groups. Carolyn Fang, Ph.D., Assistant Member of the Psychosocial and Behavior Medicine Program at Fox Chase Cancer Center, spoke about the importance of understanding what drives health behavior and Michael Gallo, Ph.D., Professor of Toxicology at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, shared his knowledge in science to unravel what we really know about cancer causes and prevention.
Overall, the combination of these two meetings left the attendees with a greater understanding into the challenges of delivering community-based programs, health education and health promotion services. In addition, the seminars provided the tools to move forward with the coordination and collaboration efforts throughout the state.
Sponsors included the New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research, New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, University of Medicine and Dentistry-School of Public Health, The American Cancer Society and The Cancer Institute of New Jersey.
The Ladies at White Beeches Golf and Country Club in Haworth, N.J., sponsored a charity affair on July 18, 2000 that raised over $36,000 for patient care and cancer research. The daylong event brought together over 250 women who competed in bridge and golf tournaments. A wonderful luncheon and award ceremony followed which also featured a Chinese auction.
The White Beaches Ladies felt so many fundraisers focused on physical activities so they wanted to offer different events that anyone could participate in. Unfortunately, cancer has hit many members of the club either one way or another and it was thought that it was time to take a pro-active role towards fighting this disease.
By underwriting all expenses, The Ladies of White Beeches were able to donate one hundred percent of the proceeds towards innovative cancer research projects right here in New Jersey through the New Jersey State Commission on Cancer Research.
New Jersey Law Makers Recognize Pediatric Cancer
A Joint Legislative Resolution, designating the "Rainbow
of Hope" pin as the official symbol of New Jersey Cares About Children
With Cancer Month, was presented on the Senate floor on Thursday, September
21, 2000 by Assemblywoman Carol J. Murphy (R-26) and Senator Robert J.
The rainbow and gold pin, designed by Kathy Ingato in recognition of her daughter, Kristina Marie Ingato's courageous battle with childhood cancer, is a symbol of HOPE for all who have cancer, and a PROMISE that every citizen will join the fight to conquer this disease.
Kristina Marie was diagnosed in 1997 with an aggressive form of childhood cancer. For two years she fought her battle through chemotherapy and radiation, but treatments were unsuccessful and she passed away September 3, 1999. Kristina was twelve years old.
Coincidentally, it was September of 1999 when Governor Whitman signed into law legislation, introduced by Assemblywoman Murphy, which declared September as New Jersey Cares About Children With Cancer Month.
Cancer Survivorship Throughout the Lifespan
"CHALLENGES FOR THE 21ST CENTURY"
The New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research and the Tomorrows Children's Fund cosponsored its second national conference entitled "Cancer Survivorship Throughout the Life Span; Challenges for the 21st Century" on October 19-20, 2000 at the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City.
Over 300 physicians, nurses, allied health professionals and administrators from across the country attended this conference. Their goal was to investigate a systematic approach to the care of cancer survivors, either within or across various stages of life.
As the treatment of various forms of cancer has become increasingly effective, the interest in "survivorship" has grown in importance. The survivorship concept has different implications over the lifespan; affecting quality of life, treatment approaches and post-treatment management. Thus, while cancer survivors appear to have a myriad of potential clinical needs, the specific providers and optimal mechanisms of service to address those needs remains to be defined.
Each speaker addressed these particular elements and audience members were challenged to collaborate across their disciplines and specialties in order to answer these unmet needs.
Co-sponsors of the event included the American Cancer Society, National & Eastern Division, Association of Oncology Social Workers, Cancer Care, Inc., Hackensack University Medical Center, Intercultural Cancer Council, National Cancer Institute, The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, Office of Survivorship, Oncology Nursing Society, Saint Barnabas Health Care System and UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School.
2001 Breast Cancer Research Calendar
New Jersey Artists joined forces with breast cancer experts to design a unique 2001 Breast Cancer Calendar. The calendar provided helpful information about breast cancer including reminder stickers for breast self-exams and an annual mammogram. It contained healthy eating tips, inspirational quotes and valuable resource information. Thirteen top professional artists whose lives have been touched by breast cancer have donated their artwork for the calendar. One Hundred Percent of proceeds raised from the calendar will support innovative breast cancer research at non-profit institutions throughout New Jersey through the New Jersey Breast Cancer Research Fund.
The New Jersey Breast Cancer Fund was created by law to support research into the causes, screening, treatment and cure of breast cancer and is funded mainly through a state income tax check-off box.
Since New Jersey has some of the highest breast cancer rates in the country, a low rate for participation in clinical studies, and does not receive its fair share of federal research dollars (based on National Cancer Institute and Department of Defense spending per capita), there are a large number of New Jersey breast cancer issues that must be addressed.
The calendar is jointly sponsored by the Breast Cancer Research Advisory Group to The New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research and Rutgers, The State University. Bristol-Myers Squibb provided a major educational grant to support its development.
In order to attain its goals, the Commission invests in the state's scientific infrastructure by supporting basic laboratory and preventive studies, as well as clinical protocols, epidemiologic and psychosocial research. The Commission's six specialized advisory groups along with the input from public advocates assist the NJCCR in generating its research agenda.
To ensure a nonpartisan approach, awards are based on the highest scientific merit. The NJCCR uses a competitive peer review process, similar to the methods used by the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society. The majority of NJCCR seed grants have been very successful in attracting national funds back to New Jersey for continued research. On average, for every dollar the NJCCR has awarded, over three dollars have been attracted to the state for additional research, strengthening the scientific infrastructure and New Jersey's economy. In the course of its work, the NJCCR has gained national recognition by the National Cancer Advisory Board, and has been a model for other states such as Arizona, Colorado, and Wisconsin, which have launched similar programs.
Through this highly competitive grant program, six two year grants, three one year grants and three breast cancer research fund awards were distributed to investigators at non-profit research institutions throughout New Jersey in 2000.
One Year Grants
The New Jersey Cancer Research Fellowship program was initiated by the NJCCR in 1988 to attract and retain scholars pursuing careers in cancer research. Since then, outstanding scientists continue to focus on a range of research projects that have contributed significantly to the educational reputation of the State. In addition, jobs have been created, our technological base has enhanced, and the quality of science has improved.
Proving to be a sound and promising investment, NJCCR fellowships have generated over 350 published papers in peer-reviewed journals in addition to numerous presentations at conferences within and outside the State.
This year, the Commission was able to fund three post-doctoral, four pre-doctoral and fifteen summer fellowships to students of outstanding merit.
Cancer Research Pilot and Grant Awards
In 2000, the New Jersey State Legislature passed Bills S1039/A2055 allocating monies to the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) for cancer research grants involving the prevention and control of prostate cancer. The New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research provided administrative services to the DHSS so that the following grants could be awarded:
Thomas Atherholt, Ph.D.
Eddy A. Bresnitz, M.D., MS
Frederick B. Cohen, M.D.
Lawrence R. Coia, M.D.
George E. Dunaif, Ph.D.
Lynn W. Enquist, Ph.D.
Barbara Rabinowitz, Ph.D.
Anna Marie Skalka, Ph.D.
Jeffrey A. Warren, M.P.A.
Advisory Group Update
Breast Cancer Research
The New Jersey Breast Cancer Research Fund tax check-off mechanism collected more than $240,000 last year, making it #1 among the contribution check-offs on the state tax return. One hundred percent of monies raised will be used for breast cancer research projects in New Jersey and awarded during the 2001 grant cycle.
Cancer Prevention and Control
Prostate Cancer Advisory Group
This conference hopes to keep New Jersey's momentum moving forward to develop concrete and defined strategies to conquer this disease. Physicians, community leaders, social workers, nurses, patient advocates and business leaders will coordinate their efforts on three major areas: early detection, education and research.
Basic Research Advisory Group
NJ Pediatric Hematology Oncology
Members worked closely with the state legislature to designate the "Rainbow of Hope" pin as the official symbol in New Jersey to recognize the impact pediatric cancer has on our state. A ceremony was held on the Senate floor for this initiative and legislatures recognized the opportunities New Jersey has to offer children with cancer and the need to raise more awareness about this disease.
Joint Nursing & Psychosocial
Basic Research Advisory Group
Breast Cancer Research Advisory Group
Cancer Control And Prevention Advisory Group
Joint Psychosocial/ Nursing Advisory Group
Prostate Cancer Research Advisory Group
2001: Planning for the Future
The Commission, and its advisory groups will be working on the following projects/programs in the coming year:
Prostate Cancer Research Summit
Release of 2001-2002 NJCCR grants and fellowships, April, 2001.
Release of 2001-2002 Breast Cancer Research Fund Awards, April, 2001.
"The 2001 Annual Retreat
on Cancer Research in New Jersey"
Sharing Perspectives Series