NEWS | July 20, 2011

Major research grant awarded UC Davis Cancer Center to foster patient-oriented research


UC Davis Cancer Center has received a $3.5 million grant to help foster development of the next generation of cancer physician-scientists.

The 5-year grant, from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute, will provide training to junior UC Davis faculty members dedicated to patient-oriented cancer research.

While the School of Medicine has received other NIH mentored training funding, the new grant is the first such award for UC Davis that is solely focused on cancer.

Dr. Primo Lara © UC Regents
Primo Lara

Primo "Lucky" Lara, a medical oncologist and professor of medicine, who is principal investigator of the grant, will lead more than two dozen senior UC Davis faculty and mentors in the grant implementation. Lara said the new Clinical Oncology Research Career Development Program will facilitate translation of advances made in the laboratory into treatments that will improve outcomes for cancer patients.

"This is seed money that will blossom," said Lara. "By investing in these young, talented researchers, we are advancing patient care through development of new drugs, imaging techniques and therapeutic targets. The research data generated from this grant also will most likely foster additional research funding opportunities."

Scholars selected for the program will benefit from an interdisciplinary and collaborative training program that will include experiences in cancer molecular biology, clinical pharmacology, bioethics, clinical trial design, developmental therapeutics, biostatistics and other relevant topics.  With clinical, basic and translational research mentors, each scholar will then develop a patient-oriented research project in some aspect of cancer therapeutics. The program will be open to physicians, nurses, pharmacists and clinical scientists interested in advancing patient-oriented cancer research. Six scholars will take part in the program at any one time.

Lara said the first group of scholars will be selected by the Spring of 2012 and begin work in July of 2012. 

With this grant - officially called the Paul Calabresi K12 Clinical Oncology Award - UC Davis Cancer Center now joins a prestigious group of approximately 20 cancer centers in the nation, including MD Anderson, Memorial Sloan Kettering, City of Hope and Duke University.

"The cancer center is a major contributor to the UC Davis Health System, the university and the health of people in Northern California," said Ralph deVere White, cancer center director. "This grant ensures that we can train the next generation of doctors, researchers and clinicians who will make sure this growth continues."

UC Davis Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute- designated center serving the Central Valley and inland Northern California, a region of more than 6 million people. Its top specialists provide compassionate, comprehensive care for more than 9,000 adults and children every year, and offer patients access to more than 150 clinical trials at any given time. Its innovative research program includes more than 280 scientists at UC Davis and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The unique partnership, the first between a major cancer center and national laboratory, has resulted in the discovery of new tools to diagnose and treat cancer. Through the Cancer Care Network, UC Davis is collaborating with a number of hospitals and clinical centers throughout the Central Valley and Northern California regions to offer the latest cancer-care services. For more information, visit