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Fox Chase Cancer Center Awarded Congressional Funding to Support American-Russian Cancer Alliance

PHILADELPHIA (October 24, 2003) — Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, Pa., a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, has received $590,000 from Congress (FY03) to support the American-Russian Cancer Alliance (ARCA). ARCA is a consortium of American and Russian cancer research institutes lead by Fox Chase Cancer Center conducting scientific research and medical education conferences both in the United States and Russia. Centers in ARCA include Fox Chase, University of Maryland-Greenebaum Cancer Center , N.N. Blokhin Cancer Center, and the Russian Research Centre-Kurchatov Institute.

As a result of the congressional funding, two collaborative research programs have been initiated. Fox Chase researchers have exported a tobacco prevention and control program to the Blokhin Cancer Center in Moscow for cancer patients who continue to smoke. This is the first known program of its kind in Russia. The University of Maryland-Greenebaum Cancer Center has initiated laboratory research to explore the therapeutic use of radioactive isotopes supplied by the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow.

"Both of these innovative research projects draw from existing strengths of the institutions in Russia and the U.S.," said Paul F. Engstrom, MD, Ph.D., senior vice president of population science at Fox Chase who chairs its ARCA activities. "We are applying what American researchers have learned about smoking cessation and its clinical importance for the benefit of Russian cancer patients. In a separate project, we're is utilizing the scientific strengths of our Russian counterparts to explore the therapeutic possibilities of stockpiled radioactive isotopes."

"We received valuable bi-partisan advice and support from Congress in particular Representative (Steny) Hoyer, Senator (Arlen) Specter and Representative (Curt) Weldon. They became interested in our program early-on and then sponsored our efforts," explained R. Donald Leedy, chief operating officer of Fox Chase. "Their interest in this project permeates political boundaries for the benefit of cancer patients here and abroad. Their efforts are critical to the success of our mission."

Since its formal inception in 2001, ARCA members have planned and executed three major cancer conferences in the U.S. and Russia.

"The conferences provide a forum for information exchange and also set the stage for future collaborative research efforts," said Engstrom.

In June 2004, ARCA will be one of the sponsors for the first Russian National Conference on Cancer Prevention to be held in St. Petersburg, Russia. Later in 2004, a conference on colon and liver cancers will take place in Moscow under the sponsorship of ARCA.

Future goals include the development of a collaborative pathology research project and the initiation of a chemoprevention study to examine agents in patients with oral or head and neck pre-cancerous lesions. Finally, ARCA plans to explore real-time videoconferencing for treatment planning and physician consultation on the management of difficult cancer cases. Future conferences, both in the U.S. and Russia, will emphasize bioinformatics training and clinical trials research.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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