Cancer Research Centers

In addition to formal scientific programs, Stephenson Cancer Center (SCC) houses a number of research centers funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other sponsors that serve to focus collaborative research around specific thematic areas. Because of their transdisciplinary nature, these research centers help to promote collaborations among members in different SCC research programs. Current SCC research centers are:

Center for Cancer Prevention and Drug Development

The goal of the NIH-funded Center for Cancer Prevention and Drug Development (CCPDD) is to eliminate benign or recurrent tumors before they can become cancerous and spread throughout a person's body. To accomplish this goal, the CCPDD is studying how risk factors increase the development and progression of tumors. The knowledge gained is used to devise and test strategies to prevent cancer in preclinical models. These strategies include drugs that target specific molecules shown to drive cancer development and progression, and also drugs that stimulate the immune system to eliminate tumor cells. The CCPDD has a unique combination of molecular and cellular biologists, pharmacologists, pathologists, veterinary scientists, immunologists, nutritionists, natural product and medicinal chemists, and clinicians who conduct translational research trials. This multidisciplinary team facilitates the identification of risk factors and drug targets, the development of prevention strategies, and the design and conduct of successful clinical prevention trials.

TSET Health Promotion Research Center

The mission of the TSET Health Promotion Research Center is to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, tobacco-related morbidity and mortality in Oklahoma through research that informs interventions and policies with a particular emphasis on addressing tobacco-related health disparities. The goals of the TSET HPRC are to: 1) be a leading tobacco research program with a focus on the entire translational continuum – from the discovery of basic mechanisms of tobacco use, cessation and relapse, to the development and evaluation of novel tobacco treatments, to the dissemination and implementation of treatments, policies and education throughout Oklahoma; 2) effectively and efficiently deliver state-of-the-science, evidence-based tobacco treatment to Oklahomans throughout the state; and 3) train the next generation of tobacco researchers. The TSET HPRC is housed in SCC and is funded by a grant from the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET).

NIGMS P20: Mentoring Translational Cancer Research in Oklahoma

The goal of the NIH-funded Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) is to enhance cancer research and infrastructure in Oklahoma, focused on a theme of mentoring translational research. The program supports four Promising Junior Investigators (PJIs), each of whom are paired with a mentoring team of NIH-funded scientists. The PJIs work on an independent research project, funded by the COBRE grant, with the goal of submitting an NIH or other national peer-reviewed grant at the end of their mentorship terms.

Collaborating Research Centers

SCC also actively collaborates with a number of university and campus-based research centers to leverage expertise and resources to fight cancer. These include:

Reynolds Oklahoma Center on Aging

The Reynolds Oklahoma Center on Aging (ROCA) is one of the nation’s premier interdisciplinary programs conducting aging research, combining basic science research in biogerontology and clinical research in geriatric medicine with the training of the next generation of scientists in the conduct of aging studies. Resources housed in ROCA include an NIH T32 Geroscience Training Program and an Oklahoma Nathan Shock Center in Aging. The program is supported by generous funding from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. SCC and ROCA are actively collaborating to establish a focus in Gero-Oncology through focused pilot grant funding and joint recruitment. Eight ROCA investigators conduct cancer-related work and are members of SCC.

Oklahoma Shared Clinical and Translational Resources (OSCTR)

The Oklahoma Shared Clinical and Translational Resources (OSCTR) is an NIH-funded infrastructure and faculty development center designed to: 1) serve as a catalyst to facilitate clinical and translational research in Oklahoma; 2) improve health for underserved and underrepresented populations living in rural areas; 3) provide clinical and translational research training and infrastructure to junior investigators; 4) expand opportunities for communities to participate in clinical and translational research; and 5) improve the overall health of Oklahoma’s citizens. The OSCTR supports numerous programs designed to build research capacity and to facilitate student and faculty career development. The SCC and OSCTR collaborate to enhance research on the OUHSC campus. Both support career development of promising junior investigators through joint recruitment dollars and funded pilot grants. In addition, they collaborate to organize and support grant writing training symposia. SCC members serve as mentors in several OSCTR education and training programs as well as in key OSCTR program leadership positions. Finally, the OSCTR provides important support for SCC biospecimen storage.

Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation

The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF) is a private, not-for-profit biomedical research institute located on the OU Health Sciences Center (OUHSC) campus in Oklahoma. OMRF houses nearly 50 faculty researchers and is nationally recognized for outstanding vascular biology and immunology research. In addition, OMRF has well-developed research core infrastructure available to the OMRF and OUHSC campus community. Most OMRF faculty hold adjunct appointments in OUHSC departments, underscoring the close relationship between the two institutions. The SCC and OMRF have a long history of collaboration. Several OMRF-based faculty are Affiliate Members of the SCC and work with SCC researchers on cancer-focused projects, especially in the area of basic cancer biology. The SCC has supported recruitment of cancer investigators at OMRF and has provided pilot grant funding to OMRF researchers.

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