I hope that 2004 brings its share of new and exciting events to all of you, as it has to us at the Cancer
Center. We ended last year with a tremendous turnout for the Cancer
Centers annual gala. I am extremely grateful to Darrell and Julie Petray, John Thomas and everyone
at Regent Development in Sacramento for hosting the event. The highlight of the evening was a tribute
to Jim and Sally Otto, ending with a special video greeting from Jims former coach, John Madden.
A legendary center for the Oakland Raiders, Jim has become a formidable adversary against cancer
and Sally has been his partner every step of the way. The tribute allowed us, in a small way, to honor
this extraordinary couple for everything they have done, and continue to do, to help the Cancer
In this issue of Synthesis, youll be introduced to Dr. Primo Laras new project designed
to reduce barriers that prevent cancer patients from enrolling in clinical trials of promising new therapies.
Dr. Lara was recently awarded a large grant to carry out this project; his proposal was one of only six
in the nation to win funding.
Nationwide, fewer than 3 percent of adult cancer patients participate in clinical trials but there
are exceptions to this dismal rule. For example, most children with cancer, and nearly all men with testicular
cancer, receive treatment through a clinical trial. The reason: These are relatively rare cancers that
usually require treatment at academic medical centers, where clinical trials are basic to the culture.
We need to spread this culture to the more common cancers, and Dr. Lara will tell us how we are going
to do so.
Also in this issue, youll read reports of exciting research by Dr. Katherine Ferrara in biomedical
engineering on the Davis campus, Drs. Paul Gumerlock and Philip Mack at the Cancer
Center, and Dr. Allen Christian at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. These joint projects exemplify
the sort of high-risk, high-gain research that allows the Cancer
Center to become a leader, rather than a follower, in beating cancer. The projects also exemplify
the potential of our growing collaboration with Lawrence Livermore to turn biodefense into cancer offense.
And finally, these research projects illustrate the power of donor contributions. Drs. Ferrara, Mack
and Christian were testing their promising new technologies against brain and lung cancers, when an anonymous
donor gave them funds to extend that research into prostate cancer as well. Indeed, our entire Prostate
Cancer Research Program, which today boasts 24 researchers and some $4 million in research funding, got
its start with a gift from Susan and Robert Mathews, pioneers in the high-tech industry. Today, a decade
later, we are once more indebted to Susie for a most generous contribution to the Cancer
Center. Youll learn about her latest contribution in this issue.
Donors often ask if their gifts will truly make a difference in cancer research. The answer is yes. Donor
contributions are invaluable. The gifts go to specific projects. As youll see in these pages, our
donors make possible discoveries that otherwise wouldnt be made.